Microsoft has finally launched Windows Live Expo, its dynamic social listing service. In the same vain as CraigsList.org and Google Base, the service aims to provide users an online classified system for buying, selling, posting bulletins and all other classified activities.
The first sign that Windows Live Expo was officially open (post extensive beta testing) was the activation of the expo.org domain. While it still redirects to expo.live.com, the expo.org domain is a far stronger branding move than the existing Live sub-domain.
So what’s special about Windows Live Expo?
Live Expo is embracing the power of social influence by allowing users to view, rate and discuss listings within the site. With the increasing value placed on peer/community suggestion, it seems only logical that the Live Expo’s listing service would facilitate the same feedback and review mechanisms that other online services are offering.
Microsoft has also incorporated its mapping tools into the new listing service. This allows users to view where a listing is located at the click of a button. They can even get driving instructions with the inclusion of Live Local functionality.
Windows Live Expo also utilizes many of the other Windows Live / MSN tools to enhance the user experience. Members are able to create email groups from their Windows Live Messenger / email contacts, contact each other via IM, and post their listings to their MSN spaces.
The online listing/classified market is serious business with many consumers moving away from traditional classified services (i.e. newspapers) to the free online versions available. While all the majors are trying to get their piece of the lucrative pie, I wonder how long these listing services will remain free.