There I said it – the Wave 3 web stuff looks good. It is a dramatic improvement and really marks a turning point in the Windows Live services. I was originally not going to bother writing about this, I was planning to just cover the software side of the release (rumour has it the release candidates will be made available next week) but I thought this was worthy of some mention and I encourage you to check it out if you haven't already.

Not all parts of it are on the same release, Hotmail, Calendar and People won't be updated to match the rest (there are some subtle differences between them) until early next year.

What's the deal with this release? I suppose I would sum it up as being sort of a Facebook-lite, Spaces has been de-centralised from a lot of the social-networking stuff and the old profiles have been pushed forward instead.

The good:

Looks attractive, well integrated.

When viewing a contacts status on say their profile – it actually changes in real time; you don't need to reload the page. Very nice, lots of fancy AJAX tricks like that used throughout.

Photos taken out of Spaces, stored in SkyDrive now with 25GB of storage (holy moly this web server only has a 13GB drive).

Photo slideshows have no competition if you're using Silverlight.

Spaces actually looks respectable now, hell it actually looks nice, time will tell if they've tackled the comment spam problems though.

Nice to see Profiles being used again, I had a look down my contact list; most haven't been updated in years back when they were integrated tighter with Messenger. Nice to see this being overhauled, previous efforts at social-networking were centred around Spaces and were a complete failure, this is a much better direction to take.

The bad:

Animated graphical ads still around, albeit in better locations. I haven't clicked on an animated ad this millennium. They're annoying, when I'm trying to read something I don't want zero-priority interrupts being sent to my brain thanks. Text ads or at least static graphics please.

Contacts are a bit confusing and how they're handled with regard to Messenger, your Network and so on. I hope that's related to Hotmail being a release behind.

Home has some limited customization options; I'd like to see more. It does have a few nice surprises like being able to see your Office Live Workspaces on there too. which I use as my homepage hasn't been updated. Apparently this is owned by the Live Search team and not the Windows Live team. Guys – update it, hand it over to the Windows Live team if you don't want it, this makes a good home page for power users.

Now I just need to wait for the client-side applications. We'll be relying on these guys for the Windows 7 era applications - let's hope they can bring some dramatic improvements.