The beta downloads for the new Windows Live Wave 3 applications are here. This includes new versions of:
- Photo Gallery
- Movie Maker
- Family Safety
- Microsoft Office Outlook Connector
To give you an idea of what’s new in some of the products:
The look and visible features have been updated in all of the products, but the ones that are most noticeable are Messenger, Writer, and Mail.
There are a lot of new features in Messenger, but some noticeable ones are that “Shared Folders” in Messenger have been replaced with “Online files”, which is your SkyDrive account. Also, the status indicators in Messenger have changed. You now have better color coding and can control the size of the indicator (status only, small, medium, or large). You also have favorites, which allow you to put the contacts you most frequently talk with at the top at all times. The old concept of groups has been renamed to categories and groups are now multi-person chat groups that are persistent.
There are also some new features that aren’t so visible, including the idea of multiple points of presence. This allows you to sign in from multiple locations and get your messages at all of them.
Live Writer also received a major facelift and most of the features were already available in June CTP. Inserting videos has been updated to include YouTube support and it also supports some newer blogs, including SharePoint blogs.
Live Mail has gained a very complete and useable calendar. I can’t say much more about it, you really have to see the new calendar for your self.
The first thing you notice about Photo Gallery is a much simpler interface. Going beyond that, there is now support for “people tags” in a way that is very similar to how Facebook allows you to tag a person in a photo. As you type a persons name, it will search through your Messenger contacts. This goes along with the updated facial recognition algorithms. When you publish photos you can now choose to upload the photo metadata as well.
Movie Maker is new in Windows Live and should eventually replace the Windows Movie Maker in Vista. There are still a lot of features missing when compared to Windows Movie Maker, but I expect those will be added relatively quickly.
Overall, it looks like the significant changes for Wave 3 are a much improved and consistent UI and better integration with the other Live products and Live online. No matter what, it’s definitely worth the upgrade.