Windows Live's Third Wave Now Ready to Try


Windows Live has come a long way since it was first introduced as a Microsoft brand in 2006. The first wave bolted Hotmail, Messenger, and Spaces into a single download. In last year's second wave, tools like SkyDrive ,  Events, Photo Gallery, LiveWriter , Calendar, and Family Safety joined the family, along with support for mobile devices. This week, Microsoft rolled out its third wave , adding a new member to the Windows Live family and new features to several existing programs. We've already told you about the new features in Hotmail, so here's what else that's new:

  • Movie Maker beta joins the Live family , getting an easier to use interface and support for publishing your creations to popular video-sharing sites. Note that this Live product is for Windows Vista only, and requires an ATI Radeon 9500 or NVIDIA GeForce FX 5900 or better GPU.
  • Messenger beta adds customization options as well as drag and drop photo sharing during chats.
  • Photo Gallery beta adds face detection to make it easier to tag people in photos, but don't confuse this with Google's Web Album's new face recognition feature. Photo Gallery also displays photos from friends in your gallery view.
  • Writer beta adds WYSIWIG previewing , photo border and tilting options, and support for publishing videos to MSN or YouTube, so you can more easily add videos to your blog.
  • Toolbar beta maps addresses and provides directions , provides custom buttons for one-click access to favorite websites, and adds Smart Menu popups with more information for selected text.

There are also betas of new versions of Family Safety and the Microsoft Outlook Connector .

Although Windows Live continues to leave 64-bit Windows XP out of the loop, it works with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of Windows Vista and with 32-bit Windows XP SP2 and above (except for Movie Maker). Grab complete system requirements and Movie Maker release notes here . Keep in mind that you can download individual programs as well as the Live suite. To keep track of what's happening with Windows Live, check out the Windows Live Wire blog.

Illustration courtesy Microsoft Windows Live .

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