Windows Live Toolbar – upcoming new features, Sync, SkyDrive and Favorites integration

Credits goes to Jamie Thomson for reviewing the upcoming “release candidate” version of Windows Live Toolbar. From the post we’re able to preview some of the high-resolution screenshots of what’s to come in the new Toolbar. Here’s what Jamie had to say about the new Toolbar:

Do you use toolbars? I generally don’t. Actually no, that’s not true; I didn’t, but I do now.

I’ve been using the new Windows Live Toolbar for about 6 weeks and so far so good, I’m still using it and for me that’s something of a toolbar record. The reason is the brand new toolbar buttons that allow me to see my What’s New feed and (importantly for me) my Calendar straight from within the Toolbar. In other words, without going to a website.

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When the last Windows Live Essentials wave 3 suite got released into public beta, Chris reviewed the Toolbar and mentioned the lack of cross-service integration with other Windows Live services (no, “buttons” don’t count). Well, the new release addresses just that – integrating many of the upcoming Windows Live wave 3 services into one “useful” Toolbar. Instead of talking about what we already knew, we’ll focus on what’s new and updated in this upcoming release.

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First, as seen across all of the new Windows Live internet services, we have the What’s New feed integration. Clicking on What’s New, Profile and Photos tabs will give you at-a-glance what your friends in your Network have been doing lately, and also instant access to your Windows Live Home, Profile and Photos web pages.

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The Mail and Calendar also shows the latest emails from your Hotmail inbox and upcoming appointments in your Windows Live Calendar, with a nice little calendar to help you find out which dates you have events and appointments.

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I guess what is most exciting about the new Toolbar is the new Favorites, Sync, and SkyDrive integrations. We mentioned in our last review that while installing Windows Live Toolbar it requires you to close down Windows Live Sync. We also knew that Microsoft is killing off Windows Live Favorites, but this also meant that the original Favorites syncing through the wave 2 version Windows Live Toolbar will no longer work. With the new version, we’ll see Toolbar taking advantage of Windows Live Sync and will be synchronising all your Favorites from Internet Explorer between different computers, provided you have Toolbar installed on both computers and signed in to the same Windows Live ID.

Previously we also noted that you can share favorites with SkyDrive using Windows Live Toolbar, however, exactly how Favorites, SkyDrive, Sync and Toolbar will interact together is still a big question mark. Update: Jamie updated his blog today about how “Shared Favorites” works in Toolbar, integrating it with SkyDrive. Apparently there is a “Share” button in Toolbar which, if clicked on, allows you to add the currently viewing page as a link to the “Shared Favorites” folder on SkyDrive. This will also show up as an entry on your Profile’s What’s New feed:

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However, Jamie also noted that in his build of Toolbar the “Favorites Sync” button isn’t available, so question still remains on how Windows Live Sync will play its part, and whether the Favourites stored on SkyDrive can be accessed from the Toolbar or not. Stay tuned on LiveSide as we cover the latest Wave 3 news in much more detail.