Contacts Overview

Contacts Overview

Current information about Live Connect is now available in the Windows Live Developer Center. The information in the following sections is provided for legacy purposes only.

People store their contact data in many different places—for example, in the address books of their various email accounts; in friend or buddy lists in chat applications; in friend lists on social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and LinkedIn; and on their mobile phones.

Windows Live Messenger Connect provides tools for developers to write web applications and websites that enable users to manage contact data and consolidate it from disparate sources into a common address book. The aim is to create a store of data that is current, inclusive of all contacts on all the services that the user uses, and available on all the devices that the user has—a mobile phone, a desktop computer, or any Internet-connected device. Contact information is stored centrally on Microsoft servers and is available to Windows Live services such as Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger via

A user can import contacts from other services like Facebook, or add contacts individually by searching by name or email address. When a user connects a service to his or her Windows Live account, all of the user's contacts from those services are automatically available in Windows Live. The user can send a message directly to a Facebook user from Windows Live.

To get a contact's email information, use the Messenger Connect invitation feature. For more information, see Working with Invitations and Sending an Invitations Collection (REST API).

This section describes how resource data is structured for contacts. It is helpful to understand the following common terms:

  • Address book. A data repository in which a Windows Live user can store contact information such as names, email addresses, phone numbers, and geographical locations.
  • Contact. A single entry in the user's address book. A contact can belong to one or more categories.
  • Friend. A contact that has a Windows Live ID user account and with whom the user has established a two-way relationship: The Windows Live user has invited the other Windows Live user to be a friend, and the other user has accepted the invitation.
  • Category. A group of contacts in a user's address book. A contact can belong to more than one category. If contacts that belong to a category are part of the user's Windows Live Messenger network, this category appears in Messenger.

The Contacts resource includes two collections: AllContacts and Categories. The AllContacts collection contains a list of all the user's contacts, and the Categories collection contains a list of all the categories. Individual items in the AllContacts collection are called contact entries, and individual items in the Categories collection are called category entries. The following table describes the role of each of these elements.

Resource element Description

Contacts Resource

The Messenger Connect resource that exposes contact data

AllContacts Collection

A collection that contains all of the contact entries in a user's address book

Categories Collection

A collection that represents all of the categories that are used to organize the contacts in a user's address book

Contact Entry

A single item in the AllContacts collection; represents a contact in a user's Windows Live address book

Category Entry

A single item in the Categories collection; represents a category that a user creates in the Windows Live address book

For a description of how the Messenger Connect resource model is structured hierarchically into resources, collections, and entries, see Resource Model Structure. For a description of the Contacts resource architecture and the operations that this resource supports at the various levels, see Contacts Resource.

The following table lists the operations that the Contacts resource supports. You can access the Contacts resource by using the Representational State Transfer (REST) API service or the Messenger Connect JavaScript Library.

Operation JavaScript library REST API service

Retrieve the service document (list collections in the resource)


Contacts Resource

Enumerate contacts

Enumerating Contacts

Retrieve All Entries in a Contacts Collection

Enumerate categories

Working with Categories

Retrieve All Entries in a Categories Collection

Retrieve data from a contact


Retrieve Data from a Contact Entry

Retrieve data from a category

Working with Categories

Retrieve Data from a Category Entry

When working with the contacts of a Windows Live user, your application accesses a set of related properties. For a list of the properties that are unavailable to your application, see the Windows Live Developer Center.

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