Windows Live Essentials is a collection of free tools from Microsoft that covers many aspects of life online. The suite includes Messenger, Photo Gallery, Mail, Movie Maker, Writer, Family Safety, Bing Bar, Messenger Companion, Sync, Outlook Connector and Silverlight.
The latest beta version of Windows Live Essentials recognises the fact that life in the cloud has become increasingly important for internet users. As well as enabling users to upload photos, videos and other files to Microsoft’s own online services, there is also support for a range of other online tools.
Photos and videos can be shared to not only SkyDrive but also Flickr, YouTube, Facebook and SmugMug, and there is also support for social networks such as Facebook, MySpace and LinkedIn. Windows Live Mail can be used to access Hotmail, Google Mail and Yahoo Mail accounts, while Writer can be used to write blog posts for Spaces, WordPress and Blogger blogs.
One of the most exciting aspects of the latest collection of tools is Windows Live Sync. This synchronisation tool makes it possible to keep files synchronised between two or more computers – and there is even support for Macs now.
An updated ribbon toolbar gives a uniform look and feel across the suite and many of the individual programs have received important updates. Photo Gallery can be used to retouch photographs as well as stitching together a series of images to create a panorama. The Photo Fuse feature makes it possible to choose the best elements from a number of similar photos to produce the best possible results.
Windows Live Essentials adds many features to Windows – particularly in the case of Windows 7 where a number of familiar tools and features were dropped – and helps you to make the most of the internet. Whether you’re looking to stay in touch with your friends, share you photos and videos, create a blog or sync files between computers, Windows Live Essentials is well worth a look.