Microsoft’s Live team does not seem to get any sleep. They just release a beta of Live Wave 3 which includes new versions of Mail, Photo Gallery, Messenger and, new to the suite, Movie Maker. The applications in the suite appear to be getting a UI make over, though, for the moment, it’s not all that polished. Movie Maker does not seem complete. In fact, it missing most of the things that make it useful and easy to use. It does, however, gain the Ribbon UI from Office 2007. Mail gains tighter integration with Live Calendar and Live Hotmail. In fact, the suite comes with a connector to allow Outlook to connect to Live Hotmail. There is also a new version of Live Writer. I have not yet put these new versions through the paces, but I have taken a look at most of them and I am, in fact, using the Live Writer beta to write this post.
Live Writer has some nifty new features, including more options on image manipulation, authoring enhancements and an improved toolbar. There are more features for formatting and posting.
Mail also has a few new features, including the aforementioned Live Calendar integration and UI improvements (which, to me, are very subtle.) The thing that has always impressed me with the Live Mail application is it’s speed. Outlook 2007, which is a really nice information manager as well as email client, tended to slow down, quite a bit. I have yet to really experience that with Live Mail.
Photo Gallery has a few new options for posting your photos and also has a few UI tweaks as well. There are more new features, but I have not yet explored them.
The entire Live Suite is a tremendous set of applications and services and Microsoft deserves quite a bit more credit for them than they get. These tools and services are mostly free and those that you pay for are very inexpensive. The syncing abilities that Microsoft has been developing are simply the best around. In fact, in my experience, the only application that beats Microsoft’s syncing abilities is IBM’s Domino and Lotus Notes product.
You can download the beta suite here.