The trial version of the free Windows Live Essentials 2011 package of programs (Live Mail, Live Messenger, Live Movie Maker, Live Photo Gallery, Live Writer, Live Family Safety) was refreshed on August 17 and some new features appeared. As well, the webDotWizards have been finding some little tricks and features while becoming familiar with these new applications.
You can download the Windows Live Essentials 2011 beta suite from explore.live.com/windows-live-essentials-beta. Remember that this latest version works on Windows Vista and Windows 7 only. The latest version for Windows XP was in May.
Coming later in the year to Australia, Live Messenger will enable you to chat to your Facebook friends (if you connect Facebook to your Live Messenger social service) from within Messenger itself.
If you have a Facebook account and you do connect it to your Windows Live, then the old status message pane at the top of Messenger can be used to post short messages both to your Live friends and your Facebook friends in one easy step. In the new Messenger, the old status message box is now dynamic rather than a means of just displaying a static message to your friends and family.
Remember when using Live Messenger in social view that you’re able to comment on your friends’ activities by clicking the little white bubble alongside the text description or any photo albums they’ve uploaded. This works for both Windows Live and Facebook friends.
Hovering over a photo album that family or friends have uploaded slowly plays through the photos. A better way to view these photos is to click the album and a new slideshow window opens; you can make this window full screen for better viewing. Hovering your mouse over the top or bottom of the window gives you all the options you need. Now there’s also a thumbnail view if you’re looking for a particular photo to view or want a quickview of the complete album.
To quickly see what family and close friends are doing by moving their activities to the top of Messenger Social, you can make each a favorite – change to contact view and right-click on the particular person seems to be the easiest method. Note your favorites can be your friends on Windows Live and/or your friends on Facebook if you’ve connected your Facebook account to Windows Live.
Remember to make use of the selections you can use from the top of Messenger Social to filter particular types of activities such as clicking on Me to check up on what messages you’ve posted and photo albums you’ve uploaded.
Those who’ve been shown how to use Sweep to keep their inbox and folders organised are now beginning to see the benefit of aiming at achieving a zero-inbox. Yes, it takes a bit of time to organise, but once done, that’s it (as long as you remember to tick the Move in the future choice).
Have you noticed you can get the Sweep menu items by hovering over an email item in your inbox list?
It’s easy to insert photos and videos into an email but did you know you can also insert a Bing map to give directions to a particular location.
Live Photo Gallery
The new version of Live Photo Gallery assumes you’ve now got lots of photos stored on your computer (probably thousands, and you’ll store lots more) and you’ve been tagging your photos as you’ve uploaded more from your camera or scanner. Thus the Find menu offers many different ways to help you view photos from past years – you can find them using date, tags, face recognition, published online or not tagged (nobody would use this, would they?).
So it’s important to have a work process when you store new photos on your computer. From experience the webDotWizards will tell you to immediately tag them (now we can geotag as well as face and descriptive tag) then tidy them. If you’ve been scanning negatives or 35mm slides, you’ll probably have to rotate and crop.
To focus your mind on the job of tagging, ask yourself will you be able to find this particular photo with one click in a year’s time when someone asks to view it?
Another way to focus on tagging is to aim at creating a movie from lots of photos from the past and present, say your annual holiday to Tahiti or Queensland over the past few years. Can you bring up all these photos with one click?
It’s worthwhile adding captions to your photos, not necessarily every photo, but perhaps the first one of a group since these captions are now moved with your photos to Live Movie Maker and will give information to viewers of your finished DVD movie.
With the August 17 refresh, webDotWiz has noticed that face detection works better, for example, by being able to recognise someone wearing sunglasses.
Another feature is being able to view the location of a photo that you’ve geotagged on Bing Maps; simply right-click on the geotag for this option.
An area of exploration in Live Photo Gallery is to use the filters on the Find menu so you can bring up, for example, all photos of your holidays in Queensland since June 2009 containing a certain person.
Live Movie Maker
The AutoMovie function is now a part of the different themes you can use to create your movie. Make use of the hover feature of the ribbon interface to get a preview of how things will look before committing to a particular theme. Hovering over a style will play the first few frames (photos) of your movie as a preview.
When it comes time to save your movie on the File menu, thus far the recommended setting works well when the DVD movie is played on a TV set.
Live Essentials 2011
Whether or not there’s another refresh of the trial version, it’s expected that the final, finished version of the Live Essentials applications will be available later in the year. All these applications take a little bit of work to get the most out of, but it’s worth it and satisfying when considering the power and utility of a group of applications that are free.
Cross-posted from webDotWiz Online www.webdotwiz.com/column-020910.htm
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Posted using the refreshed version of Windows Live Writer 2011.