This reputation-based, peer-to-peer question-and-answer service lets you seek and offer all kinds of knowledge online while integrating with other Windows Live Contacts, Messenger, and Spaces.
Once we received access to Windows Live's question-and-answers service with our Windows Live ID, we immediately started posing questions and replying to other users' queries without a hitch. We like that you can type your own topic tags to categorize your question rather than having to choose from a nested list of categories, as Yahoo Answers and Answerbag require. Popular QnA tags include computers, technology, home, and entertainment. You can subscribe to an RSS feed that will ping you via e-mail when a new answer arrives for your question.
Just click the arrow below another user's picture, and you can see that person's Windows Live Spaces blog, view their friends, invite them to be your Windows Live Contact, and chat with them on Windows Live Messenger. We found that Yahoo Answers made it easier to hide our identity off the bat, if we so wished. We hope that Microsoft will make it easier for QnA users to go incognito. After all, aren't some of your most pressing questions also the most embarrassing to ask? You can report users who misbehave, or click on the Superstar Users link to find people who have racked up lots of points.
What's better to use at the grocery store--paper or plastic? When we asked that question, we received five thoughtful answers within 10 minutes. We received three times as many answers--albeit, less thoughtful ones--in half the amount of time at Yahoo Answers, which is publicly available. When anyone with a Windows Live handle can access QnA, we expect the results to be much different.
Windows Live QnA beta users have four days to provide answers before a question becomes closed. Once the answering ends, people can vote for the best answer. We found four days to be a short window of time, especially because the closed beta testing limits the amount of potential users who might reply to you. Yahoo Answers, on the other hand, gives your question a full week before replies are sealed, and you can request an extension.
Microsoft provides assistance in the form of a searchable online knowledge base and a table of contents.
We ran across beta glitches when using the Firefox Web browser, such as links that occasionally didn't work. Still, Windows Live QnA worked well for us overall, and we're interested to see what the final product will look like.