Windows 7 Feature Request: Presence & Status API

When RSS feeds were all the rage, Microsoft took notice and built support into Internet Explorer 7 and Windows Vista. I think the Common Feed List was a great addition to the operating system – why try to manage and synchronize a different list of feeds for each application? It makes far more sense for the OS to manage it. This situation is a good example of how Windows can make your life easier.

I would like to see a similar feature added in Windows 7 – a common presence and status API.

Presence is your availability, such as “Available”, “Busy”, and “Not Available”. There are dozens of applications that support this type of functionality in their own way. I’ve got three running right now – Windows Live Messenger, Skype, and Pidgin (well and Exchange, I suppose). You’ve probably got a similar list, perhaps with a few more applications.

Status is the short text description of what you’re doing, such as “Working in the office”. Think Twitter and Facebook. Many software applications have this type of functionality as well, including Windows Live Messenger and Skype.

Here again, the operating system should be taking care of this to make life easier. When I want to change my presence from “Available” to “Busy”, I currently have to make that change in every single application. Likewise, to update my status I need to copy and paste it to a bunch of different places. Too messy, too much work.

Here’s what I’d like to see in the API:

  • The ability to set the presence and/or status of the currently logged in user.
  • The ability to query the presence and/or status of the currently logged in user.
  • An event subscription mechanism to be notified when the currently logged in user’s presence and/or status has been updated.

That would be very cool, I think. I could then change my presence or status in Skype and it could be reflected in Windows Live Messenger and other applications. This information could also be displayed in other places, such as the Welcome screen, or in my email signature, etc.

But we can make it better – let’s hook in Windows Live support! Extend the Windows Live Presence API to support status updates as well, and let me grant access to third party services. That way I could potentially hook in Ping.fm and other services. When I update my presence and status on my computer, it updates Windows Live in the background, which in turn updates any other services I’ve added.

With that in place, this scenario becomes a reality: I open a gadget on my desktop, change my presence to “Available” and my status to “Writing a blog entry” and it’s reflected in Windows Live Messenger, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I’d love to have that functionality! Perhaps it could work with the new location API too. I’ve got tons of feature requests for Windows 7 (as I’m sure everyone does) but this one would definitely be near the top of my wish list.

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