Bye, Bye Betas - Windows Live Suite Goes Live!


Tuesday, Microsoft took the wraps off production versions of its Windows Live Suite collection of software and services for Windows Vista and XP users, available since September in a public beta . So, what's new, and who's still waiting for Windows Live to come to their desktops?

New Ways to Connect with Windows Live

Windows Live offers four ways to connect:

  • Hotmail now features 5GB of storage, more customizable design (or you can stick with 'classic' Hotmail for now), integrated virus scanning and cleaning, easier junk mail handling, and Outlook-style previewing and drag-and-drop message organization.
    • Get inside the heads of Hotmail's development team at the Mailcall blog on Windows Live Spaces.
  • Windows Live Mail supports multiple email accounts including Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo premium, and others, integrated spam and virus filtering, access to Windows Live Spaces blogs and easy access to Windows Live Messenger IM from your inbox, for those times that email just isn't fast enough. Use it as the desktop interface for your favorite web-based and POP email services.
  • Windows Live Messenger supports text, voice, and video, works with Windows Live Contacts, and includes drag and drop file sharing.
    • Get the inside story on what's new in Windows Live Messenger from the Messenger Says blog on Windows Live Spaces.
  • Windows Live Toolbar adds Live Search to IE 6 or above, customizations with Windows Live Gallery, smart menus (highlight text to see them), instant maps, and easy addition of RSS feeds to your home page.
    • Find out how the Live Search team is working to figure out what your searches mean at the Live Search blog at
    To learn about new sharing and family protection features in Windows Live Suite, and who's still waiting to try Windows Live Suite, read on.

Sharing with Windows Live

Windows Live offers four ways to share your life with friends, family, and even total strangers:

  • Windows Live Photo Gallery builds on the Windows Photo Gallery feature in Windows Vista with new editing features , support for downloading high-res photo albums from Windows Live Spaces, and easy publishing to Flickr and other online services.
  • Windows Live Spaces joins the "Web 2.0" social-networking craze, and includes support for updating your page via email with mobile devices, picture sharing, print ordering from Snapfish, and privacy controls so you decide which photo albums everyone can see, and which albums are for your friends or family only.
  • Windows Live Writer (which we tried, and liked, in beta ) makes it easy to blog with support for major third-party blog services as well as Windows Live Spaces, support for photo, video, and map content, and offline composing.
    • Learn more about the people behind Live Writer and how it works at the Writer Zone blog .
  • Windows Live Events provides web-based event planning, from invitation design and contact list management to sharing photos after the event. It works seamlessly with Hotmail, Spaces, and Messenger. The Space Craft blog also covers Live Events tips and tricks.

Protection for Your Family from Windows Live OneCare

The last piece of the current Windows Live Collection is the Family Safety package. It provides contact fitering, contact management, filtered searching, activity reports, and remote control of account access.

Install One, All, or Some - It's Up to You

Go straight to the Windows Live Services installation page and select the products you want to try. The final versions, like the betas, are free for the downloading.

x64 User? Vista In, XP Out

The good news is that virtually all Windows Live desktop components (except for Windows Live OneCare Family Safety) run on both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista. Unfortunately, if you're running the x64 version of Windows XP Professional, you're still out of luck.

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