Windows Live Essentials strikes back – completing the Windows 7 experience

wlessentials_47bd62d9 News Remember Windows Live Essentials, the service that went through its early beta stages back in 2006 and never made it out of beta, that’s meant to “offer integrated and bundled e-mail, instant messaging, photo-sharing, blog publishing, security services and other Windows Live entities into a seamless whole”? Today Brandon LeBlanc at the Windows Experience Blog talked about how Windows 7 + Windows Live will “complete the Windows Experience” together – once again through the suite named “Windows Live Essentials”. The reasoning behind this, as explained by Brandon, is that:

Microsoft has learned that many end-user experiences need to be updated more frequently. Instead of waiting for the next Windows release, we began delivering updated versions of the Windows Live applications to improve those end-user experiences. While this was a great way to improve the Windows experience for users, many of these updates in Windows Live Wave 2 seemed duplicative of applications already in Windows.

To address this, Microsoft will now only ship these applications (which include Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live Writer and now Windows Live Movie Maker) as part of the Windows Live Essentials suite.

Although branded with a new (or should I say “old”) name, “Windows Live Essentials” in simply the installer that we’ve been seeing since wave 2 that installs the entire suite (or selected applications) of Windows Live products, with the Wave 3 installer available at http://download.live.com. What’s interesting about Brandon’s post is that it showed us a few screenshots of the internal builds of Wave 3 applications, or the “Windows Live Essentials” suite, currently being tested inside Microsoft:

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We notice there’s minor updates to all these applications, such as:

• Integration with Windows Live Photos in the Messenger conversation window
• Personal Status Message comes back in the Messenger conversation window
• Removal of the “said:” part in the Messenger conversation history
• A nice shade of blue in the background for Mail
• A new “Edit” submenu in Movie Maker
• Removal of more icons from the programs, especially in Messenger and Mail, to align with “Windows 7” design principles

The one major change that caught our eyes is the new icons for Messenger, Mail, Calendar, Photo Gallery and Movie Maker. It seems like Microsoft icon designers are obsessed with the “yellow ribbon” around their icons. Here’s a close up view of the new icons and also a close-up shot of a photo taken from the Windows 7 keynote at PDC2008:

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Do these icon change and the “yellow ribbon” signify anything? Are they in any way related to the “yellow ribbon” around the Internet Explorer icon? Perhaps we’ll have to find out later. Stay tuned with us as we keep you updated on the latest Windows Live news.