Windows Live Essentials
Microsoft's Windows Live Essentials 2011 is ready for prime time. This consumer-focused suite of free applications, has moved from testing mode (beta) to final release. The productivity suite is Microsoft's flagship bundle of Web-based productivity apps for managing and sharing images online, editing video, and sharing documents and files between PCs.
In addition, the company announced that Live Essentials will be bundled with Dell Computers sold during the holiday season. "Windows Live Essentials 2011 was designed and built to connect your PC to the services you use every day," Windows Live Engineering Vice President Chris Jones wrote at the Inside Windows Live blog.
The applications in Windows Live Essentials 2011 include:
Windows Live Photo Gallery, for sharing photos with your friends on SkyDrive, Flickr, SmugMug, and Facebook.
Windows Live Writer, for updating your blog on Wordpress.com, Blogger, and TypePad.
Windows Live Movie Maker, for editing videos and publishing them to YouTube.
Messenger, for connecting you with Facebook, LinkedIn,
Mesh, for syncing your files and folders across your
PCs and connect back to your PC from virtually
Windows Live Family Safety, for managing permissions on your PC to keep kids safe.
Windows Live Mail, for managing e-mail from Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo.
One of the interesting characteristics of Windows Live Essentials 2011 is that this suite is surprisingly open in the way it works with and connects to third-party services such as Flickr and YouTube. Typically Microsoft has chosen to give the cold shoulder to so-called "frienemies" and keep Microsoft customers using Microsoft services. This update to the Essentials suite expands its reach beyond the Microsoft universe.
In addition to its outward-looking orientation, the suite's apps have some interesting new features. For instance, both the video editing and photo programs are hardware accelerated for better performance than the typical web-based app. Photo Gallery also has a face recognition feature that allows it to combine the best faces in an assortment of group photos and create an ersatz group photo with the results.
Note: This link takes you to the vendor's site, where you can download the latest version of the software.
--John P. Mello, Jr.