Well the holidays are over, and now the countdown to Wave 4 can really begin. We were told at PDC that Windows Live would be refreshed “in the Mix timeframe”, which is mid-March, but we’d be surprised if we didn’t see something along the lines of a beta even before that. But we don’t really expect an old fashioned “managed” beta, or a long one, those days are probably over. Microsoft can gather more and better metrics from a public beta with automated tools, as evidenced by the Windows 7 beta, so if that means more of us get the bits faster, it’s fine by us.
Even though Microsoft has said next to nothing about what to expect with Wave 4, we’ve been able to piece together bits from here and there that at least give us a glimpse of what to expect. We’ve already written about much of it, as have others around the web, and as we wait these last few weeks let’s gather what info we have together:
So it looks like tabs are going to finally arrive in Windows Live Messenger, along with a revamped winks/emoticons dialog box, enhanced picture sharing, and hopefully even some form of video sharing, if we’re looking into the right crystal ball. Looks like we’ll see some enhanced social networking tools, too, brought right into Messenger from the looks of this (only somewhat dubious) screenshot, posted by a guy over at DeviantArt a couple of weeks ago:
(Neowin had another similar but much earlier screenshot)
We just showed you some screenshots of Messenger “lighting up” Windows 7 with status indicators in the Taskbar, and the same guy that posted the shot above has another look:
Documents and Devices
Last year, LiveSino.net found mention of two new categories added to the Windows Live header, Documents and Devices. Although we can’t be sure how much has changed in the plans, we know that Office Web Apps is coming to Windows Live, so it makes sense that these new categories are added. How much more integration (besides the use of SkyDrive) with Office Web Apps will we see? That isn’t quite as clear.
Writer and the Ribbon
We told you last September about Ribbon sightings on Windows Live Writer, and last month Neowin posted screenshots. Now it looks like the Ribbon will be deployed across all the Windows Live apps, if the guys at Geeksmack have it right. Should we expect a nice fresh new UI for Wave 4? One can hope, and it looks like we’ll be getting some new themes at least:
some users are seeing these (and others) show up in Options at http://sync.live.com, but not anywhere else, weird. Some of them are even quite Windows 7ish, hmm.
We’re sure there’s much more to come, some that will surprise even us (we hope), and the best part is the wait is nearly over, and the fun is just getting started!