Finally, after a long time of lack-of-update period for Microsoft Windows Live Services, we are able to have some test drives on the latest update of Windows Live Essential that intended to be released to closed beta testers. In the package, it can be found that there are 3 beta programs included: Windows Live Messenger Beta, Windows Live Mail Beta, and Windows Live Writer Beta, along with some other small applications (You can have a glance on the screenshot below).
Windows Live Messenger Beta
I would say the beta version of WLM is one of the biggest changes in Windows Live Essential pack. It still looks familiar to the current stable release of WLM, but it does have some interface changes, as well as the new social networks integration added in. During the starting up of the WLM Beta, it gives you an option to choose between the Social Highlights interface or Friends List interface (which can be changed easily later).
To give you some idea for Social Highlights and Friends List interfaces, you may check the screenshot below:
Social Highlights type – More status updates at the left area and friends list is at the right
Friends List type – All friends would appear in larger area at the left, right side for friends’ status update
For me, I see this interface changes as a very good move from Microsoft Windows Live team. Similar to Windows 7, they has finally listened to the users’ opinion and allow them to control the messenger to suit different liking. If you doesn’t like the changes that Windows Live Team made for you, no worry, you still can revert the whole WLM interface to the traditional design with only a single click (a slide button at the top right corner). Besides that, the new WLM also has the long-awaited tabbed-conversation which has been realized by Messenger Plus for ages.
Another additional functions in the latest WLM would be the integration of the social networks into the WLM. As you can see at the below screenshot, it can add some social networks (Facebook, Twitter, WordPress etc.) into your WLM (that will automatically publish any updates from them to your friends), which can be managed at your Windows Live Homepage.
Windows Live Writer Beta
One of my most favourite applications in Windows Live Essential. Besides WLM, it also has been given quite a significant facelift, which can be seen by the new ribbon UI integrated in WLW.
A new Ribbon UI in Windows Live Writer!
If you has been using the currently open beta Microsoft Office 2010, you will be instantly familiarized yourself with the new Ribbon UI featured in WLW. At the time of writing, I am using the WLW Beta and I am loving it! Although I have found a tweet from Additive Tips complaining about the location of the ‘split post’ feature which I couldn’t agree more (I am finding that button for a few minutes under the Home tab), but all in all, the latest update has made my blogging experience even richer and easier.
After some looking here and there, I found that there is no extra major function been added in to the latest WLW (still no image caption etc.), but it does have some minor one: Superscript and subscript, Word Count, Emoticon (it doesn’t exist in the older WLW isn’t? Or I have been overlooked?), and it also allows us to refresh theme for preview right under the Blog Account tab.
Windows Live Mail Beta
Similar to Windows Live Writer, Windows Live Mail Beta has its interface changed to the familiar Ribbon UI. I always prefer the web-based email (for my Gmail) rather than Windows Live Mail, but the latest changes seems to be worth a try to turn my attention to WLMail in managing my emails.
A new Ribbon UI in Windows Live Mail!
You want to try? Here’s how.
First, get the Windows Live Essential Beta Wave 4 (scanned with avast!, no virus found) which allows you to update your Windows Live Messenger, Mail and Writer to the Beta version. However, for Windows Live Messenger, it is not intended for public use, thus you will not able to sign in after the update. There is a patch from windowsette.com (scanned with avast!, no virus found) that patches the WLM beta to allow non-beta-testers to sign in their own account (install the patch only AFTER you get your Windows Live Messenger updated to the latest beta version). Happy exploring (or you might want to swank them to your friend) and wait for the final version from Windows Live Team patiently!