Windows Live Essentials Beta, first impressions

Microsoft has released its Live Essentials 4 beta to the public. Included are Live Writer, the blogging editor; Live Mail, the Windows based mail client; Live Photo Gallery; Live Movie Maker and Live Messenger. While I’ve not yet tested each piece, I have been using the Live Photo Gallery and the Live Movie Maker.

Photo Gallery, Movie Maker and Live Mail all get a better Ribbon interface and extra features. Movie Maker, perhaps, has gained the most interesting of the new features. Nothing major, but many small improvements all add up to a quality, though still lacking, video editor. It gained several new themes, some new special effects, the ability to generate Zune friendly HD video as well as HD YouTube video. It SEEMS faster at rendering your finished video, but that might be subjective as I’ve not done any real benchmarks (nor am I likely to do so, I don’t have that kind of time, sorry.) Integration between Photo Gallery and Movie Maker is a bit tighter as well.

liveMovieMakerI was able to easily take video and stills that I had taken during a recent stay at Great Wolf Lodge and make a rather pleasing video consisting of a mix of said stills and video clips. I chose the ‘cinema’ theme and Movie Maker added the dissolves, pans, titles and other niceties to my video. All I had to do was arrange the photos, add some music and supply the text for the titles. It took about 15 minutes and the finished video looked nice.

Live Photo Gallery also got some welcome improvements, but it was already a decent photo application and didn’t need much in the way of improvement. Performance seems about the same as before, but there are now a few more adjustments you can make to your photos and the facial recognition is a bit better. You can upload to Flickr or your Sky Drive. You can stitch together photos to make a panoramic photo as well as make a slide show, in which case Photo Gallery will cede control to Movie Maker.

So far, the Live Essentials Beta looks like it will be a worthy successor to an already worthy suite of products from Microsoft. The best part, however, is the price: FREE, like the previous incarnations of the Live Suite.

There is one additional part to Live Essentials that I’ve not talked about and that is the Live Sync. Live Sync replaces the Mesh Beta that was available. I am still evaluating it and will report on my findings at a later date. In the mean time, goto http://explore.live.com/windows-live-essentials-beta to read about and download the beta.

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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