It’s finally arrived – the finished edition of Windows Live Essentials from Microsoft Live, including the well known Windows Live Messenger, as well as Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Writer, Windows Live Photo Gallery plus the Windows Live Family Safety and toolbar.
We’ve waited not far off a year for the newest version of Windows Live Messenger to appear on our screens, so I’ll kick off with that. The new interface of Windows Live Messenger is fantasic and is also much more customizable than the last version. It looks especially good if you have a version of Windows Vista (or Windows 7 Beta – it works on that too) with the Aero glass. It doesn’t look quite as good in XP. Nevertheless, looks aren’t everything, the new features are good. There’s a new groups feature – where you can create groups of your favourite mates and they all share the group with everyone in it, as well as a new favourites group for you personally. Fans of the Sharing Folders will be disappointed, as it would appear they have been scrapped. I personally never used the Sharing Folders as I would just send a file manually.
Windows Live Mail is also very good. New improvements include a much cleaner interface which is much more user friendly. Under the hood, there aren’t many really noticeable changes, but it is still definitely worth downloading and using – especially if you use Windows Live Hotmail a lot.
Windows Live Writer is a good blog editing program, but I don’t personally use it myself as I’m quite happy to simply use the WordPress admin interface to add whatever I need to. However, it does include some neat features including picture editing, and it does have some cool plugin support. However, nothing will beat the ease of use in the WordPress dashboard, and since they are both free, I’d go for WordPress.
The Windows Live Photo Gallery has always been something I’ve used when I’ve been viewing photos from my digital camera. It’s neat and tidy, and resembles the Windows Media Player interface vaguely. It’s also a simple way of transporting photos from your camera or memory card to your computer.
If you need a good package for writing blogs, talking to friends, emailing and viewing your photos, go ahead and download this. Computer manufacturers are already dispatching this with their systems (Dell has agreed to do this recently) so you may already have these programs with a new PC. If you don’t, head over to download.live.com to get it for free.