So I drew the short-straw and ended up with the Toolbar beta review. In fact that was a sacrifice I was willing to make, as we’d heard about some cool stuff coming in Wave 3. Alas, none of it made this build, so I was left with a regular browser toolbar.
The WL Toolbar beta is a quick install, weighing in at only 8mb, so it won’t take you too long to try it out. Nor will it take you long to uninstall it either.
If you’re running Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2, you cannot miss the duplication of functionality that now exists. Toolbar has Windows Live Translate, Map, Blog and Email integration. So does IE8 in the form of
activities accelerators. Toolbar has a search box (that you still can’t hide) – so does IE8. In fact both search boxes now display search suggestions and previous search history.
However credit is due to Toolbar for extending search into other locations, thanks to a new program that is installed called Search Enhancements. This allows you to search your PC from your browser, however you’ll have to accept the various security prompts (both IE and Windows Vista) that try to prevent this from taking place. These can be disabled if you require, but I probably wouldn’t recommend doing that in case malicious apps start seeing this as a way to spam your desktop. So unfortunately, that makes this somewhat of a useless feature.
Other than the above, you can install custom buttons on to Toolbar beta from the Windows Live Gallery – http://gallery.live.com.
One interesting thing we did notice was that the Toolbar beta now asks users if they’d like to opt in to a search data collection program. With web search being such a competitive arena and Microsoft making every possible effort to catch up to Google and Yahoo, its no surprise to see MS do everything it can to improve knowledge around how searches are performed.
We’re hoping there is still more to come from the Toolbar guys in the M3 release, especially with regards to improving cross-service integration (lets face it, buttons are kinda lame). Anybody else notice the Toolbar installer requires you to close down Windows Live Sync? ;) Until then, best to give this application a miss.
Remember, all the Windows Live Wave 3 betas are available from http://download.live.com
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