The much anticipated Windows Live Wave 4 suite has landed. I got a chance to get hands on with the new suite of Essentials suite of applications from Microsoft. Rebranded as Windows Live Essentials this version includes:
- Windows Live Messenger,
- Windows Live Writer,
- Windows Live Photo Gallery,
- Windows Live Movie Maker
- Windows Live Mail
- Windows Live Sync
- Family Safety Family Safety
Windows Live Writer 2010
If your a blogging running Windows, then you’re likely using Windows Live Writer, if your not, you should be. Windows Live Writer 2010 supports the new ribbon UI consistent with other Windows 7 applications. In terms of functionality, it’s very much the same as the previous version, The main difference being that your options panel on the right is now in the context-sensitive ribbon. In the top left of the application you’ll also notice the menu bar has been replaces by an office 2010 style menu button.
Another small change is the move from having the category, tags and publish date toolbar up to the top directly under the Ribbon, personally I think this is a great decision. It can be easy to miss these before posting as they were positioned outside of your point of attention.
Windows Live Photo Gallery 2010
There’s a few new very useful features in the 2010 version of Windows Live Photo Gallery
Face detection is a feature available in most photo management applications these days and has been in WLPG for a while now. The new version comes with a much improved way to find people. The way you tag people hasn’t changed by the way you display all the photos of that person has. Using the Find Tab you can see the Top People and All People sections, the Top people are the most commonly tagged people in your gallery. Clicking on that person’s thumbnail will create a search filter which shows all the photos that contain that person.
This is a brand new feature that allows users to add location information to their photos. After selecting one of more photos you can begin typing in the Location section of the info pane on the right. As you type is searches for places that may refer to your location, if it finds multiple entries, just select the one your after.
From here it works very similar to the faces search filter explained above. Clicking on the location will filter all photos taken at that location. Unfortunately there’s no quick access from the Find tab like there is for people, also there’s no mashup of your photos positioned on a map. As you can tell from the orange circle thumbnails, this is still in beta, so we may see that added before final release.
Windows Live Movie Maker 2010
Good news for fans of HD video, Windows Live Movie maker now supports up to 1080p video. There’s also convenient access to publishing your masterpiece on YouTube, SkyDrive and Facebook.
A feature with a lot of potential is AutoMovie themes. If your imagining something akin to what’s on offer in Apple’s iMovie, you’ll be bitterly disappointed. Windows Live Movie Maker’s AutoMovie themes simply add intro titles, closing credits and either transition effects like a fade between clips, or a video effect like colour to your movie. Sure this will be a time saver for people, it’s got a long way to go.
Windows Live Messenger 2010
Unfortunately this build of Windows Live Essentials doesn’t allow messenger to connect correctly. However there are still a couple of new things we can learn. After jumping into Tools > Options we see a couple new and noteworthy additions.
First and foremost, tabbed conversations are coming to Windows Live Messenger in 2010. Secondly there’s a new item under the Sign In section that lists a new Social Mode. Not sure what exactly this entails, however Windows Live already has strong integration with pretty much every social network
out there. It’s likely a single view into what your friends have been up to online.
Something interesting to note is the image below of the Windows Live Messenger 2010 login screen is 100% pixel for pixel display of the smallest dimensions you can make the window. This is slightly concerning given that many of us use messenger in it’s tradition long rectangle form at the edge of the monitor. Reminder: still beta and this is by no means a detailed look at messenger, there could be a very good reason for this.
Thanks to the wonders of the internet, there’s a patch available that opens Windows Live Messenger, revealing the following screen. The UI can indeed be dropped back to the traditional sidebar style by turning off social mode in the options.
Taking strong influence from the Zune / Windows Phone 7 UI, the new Social view. This works great in Full-screen view. Time to get another monitor, call it the Social monitor.
Windows Live Mail 2010
Mail looks, well, like you expect mail to look. Like the rest of the 2010 Live Essentials apps, the ribbon features heavily in the application’s functionality. You’ll notice the right hand column includes calendar entries of different colours, these represent entries from multiple Windows Live calendars.
Setup was incredibly simple, just sign in and the Live Sync agent takes care of the rest. Windows Live Mail is actually a really capable mail client, the more the application evolves, the less of a reason non-domain users have for Outlook. Although webmail is sufficient in most scenarios, it’s nice to have a rich client or a least a local backup of your mail.