Microsoft we released the beta version of the new Windows Live, generally referred to as Windows Live Wave 3. And just like I had told a few people already in the weeks and months before the release, I think this release looks really good. What you can get after downloading the beta is mainly a refresh to the downloadable applications, the other online services will be update later. You’ll notice one thing immediately after installing the apps and that is that it all looks much crispier, cleaner than before… and me like. These are the new updates I like most:
Windows Live Messenger
Let’s start with the most popular of all Windows Live applications, used by 300 million people worldwide. I have +400 contacts in my Messenger and it’s fair to say that I use this every single day. Being able to add contacts to a favorites list will help me find people faster (although the search bar on top is always pretty handy for that as well). And also the groups feature is useful for me to start instant conversations between a bunch of people working on the same project, both from inside as outside the company. Lastly the “What’s new” update is also a nice feature and like Joe Wilcox notices, one with tremendous potential:
“What’s New is nascent, but it has great potential unifying some of Microsoft’s disparate social networking services. The venue is appropriate. While IMing with your buddies, you see a stream of updates about what your other friends, family or coworkers are doing. I can just imagine the teen exchange when Tracey sees that Wendy and Frank are now an item while chatting with Janie. Oh the gossip. The broader potential is tremendous, if Microsoft chooses to capitalize on it. What’s New, or something like it, could inform what game Jack is playing on Xbox 360 right now, what song Mary is listening to in Zune 3.0 software or what TV shows Manny has scheduled to record today in Windows Media Center….”
Oh and one interesting new feature I’d almost forgotten: the ability to log in on more than one PC.
Windows Live Mail
Next to my Microsoft.com company email address which I read using Outlook, I have about 10 other email addresses. I know I could do with less, but they are my old Hotmail some new Live.com addresses I could snatch at the launch :), my Gmail… etc and since I use a separate email address for each blog, that adds up to 10.
Although you could add your Hotmail accounts also into Outlook by using the Outlook Connector, and you can obviously also add POP3 email to Outlook, I still prefer Windows Live Mail for all that. First of all it keeps my work email separated from all the other email, second it’s just hand to click on ‘Unread email’ and get all new email from across all accounts in one single view. I like that more than using email forwarding from one email to the other as using it like this I will still reply on email using the right account and not give up any other email account. Might sound silly to you, but that’s important to me.
Most important addition to the new version (apart from that new look of course) is the Calendar. I think that will make quite a few people happy and therefore it’s good that is finally in there. My life sits in my Outlook calendar so I won’t use that part of Windows Live Mail that much. Still, especially when you have one or more Hotmail, but also when you just have more than one email account, you should check this out.
Windows Live Photo Gallery
I’m not a Pro photographer (although I wish I was) but that doesn’t mean I don’t take photos of course. There are over 6000 photos on my hard drive and I use this program to sort them all out. I think Windows Live Photo Gallery became part of Windows Live with Wave 2 and it was just what I needed to sort all this out. Unlike real professional photographers I don’t do much of retouching on my photos. Maybe a bit of contrast, cropping maybe but that’s mainly it. And that’s all in here, plus upload to Flickr so that was pretty much all I needed. I missed one Fix – and lucky for me that’s one of the only new things they added to this release: the ability to straighten a photo. I tend to take pictures that are slightly tilted to one side… it’s probably something to do with the camera :)
Most interesting new feature is probably the people tagging which uses some kind of facial recognition. Still playing with that one but I like how you can now use ‘descriptive tags’ and ‘people tags’ and especially that the program does some kind of face detection in your photos.
Hopefully developers will start creating the plug-ins needed to publish to other services (also new in this release) but Flickr is already in there and that’s why I use so again less important for me. A last nice addition (and probably as expected) is that you can start creating your Photosynths now right from Windows Live Photo Gallery as well.
Windows Live Writer
What can I say, it’s the best desktop blogging app out there and it’s improved a bit – like for adding Youtube video to your posts – but main differences with the older version here are that new, fresher, whiter look that comes with Wave 3. Nothing else, but who cares, it was pretty darn good already :)
Note 1: I haven’t used Windows Live Moviemaker nor Windows Live Family Safety yet (my kids aren’t allowed to use my pc basically) so can’t say much about these services for now.
Note 2: I wanted to use some home made screenshots instead of the official ones but believe it or not, I couldn’t find how to mask the names etc in a nice way. Somebody teach me how to use Paint.net please :)