|Windows Live Essentials 2011 Beta|
|Windows Live Messenger|
|Windows Live Photo Gallery|
|Windows Live Movie Maker|
|Windows Live Mail|
|Windows Live Sync|
|Windows Live Writer|
In Windows Vista, Microsoft added a stack of new programs into the operating system, including a photo manager and editor, an updated movie editor (although Movie Maker was added in Windows Me), an updated Mail program, parental control software, a calendar, integrated contacts and much more. In Windows 7, to remove the bloat that had plagued Windows Vista, Microsoft took out most of these extra programs. The replacements that were available when Windows 7 shipped in October last year was actually built 18 months beforehand and was designed with Windows Vista in mind. A lot of us expected the fourth version of the Windows Live Essentials (these extra programs) with Windows 7, but nearly a year later we finally have the beta version of this software, with the final version to ship alongside Windows 7 Service Pack 1 in September or October. This is a brief review of the Windows Live Essentials with the exception of the Bing Bar, Messenger Companion and Family Safety. I won't be reviewing the Bing Bar as personally I hate browser toolbars and I don't think it will provide much benefit to people and I'll be reviewing Family Safety when it comes out of beta. I actually do use the Family Safety product in my house, but I don't want to upgrade it until it's finished. Messenger Companion I'll also review when it is finally released and only if people I know start using it, because it's fairly useless otherwise.
A couple of things I should add before I start. The last 2 major product betas from Microsoft (Windows 7 and Office 2010) were extremely stable products that were feature complete. You might come to think that all Microsoft product betas will follow this model from now on, but the Windows Live Essentials beta does not follow this model. Some of the programs are not feature complete and will have major functionality added between now and the final version and they're also not completely stable. Messenger, Mail and Photo Gallery have crashed on me, and are also a little resource heavy because they haven't been optimised yet. These are aspects I very much hope will be fixed by the final version. Secondly, I can't fully review these products yet because the web services behind some of these products aren't available yet. By September/October this software should be available and so a full review should be available.