The beta release of the next Windows Live suite of applications has been leaked to the internet and is available for download. It can be installed on a regular system with no issues, but there are problems with the login process. The wave 4 applications detect that your Windows Live account is not part of the wave 4 beta program and will prevent you from logging in unless you sign up for the “dogfood” program (Microsoft employees only!). There are patches available to get most of the wave 4 applications to login with a regular account. A public beta of the suite will hopefully be available soon.
You can download a good torrent with the installer and required patches here.
The Windows Live Essentials installer is about 126MB and works offline (doesn’t download any components). The installer includes the following Windows Live applications: Windows Live ID, Windows Live Messenger (15.2.2583.119), Windows Live Call (part of messenger), Windows Live Mail (15.2.2583.119), Windows Live Contacts (part of Windows Live Mail), Windows Live Companion (15.2.2583.119), Windows Live Writer (15.2.2583.119), Windows Live Photo Gallery (15.2.2590.301), Windows Live Movie Maker, Windows Live Family Safety, Windows Live Sync, Microsoft Outlook Connector, Bing Bar (replaces the MSN Search Toolbar/Windows Live Toolbar). Windows Live SkyDrive has been integrated into the web interfaces for hosting photos and documents and also can now stream video. Windows Live Mesh is still a separate beta but many of it’s features have been moved into Windows Live Sync. There may be other updates to the web based applications like Live Mail (Hotmail) and Spaces, but they are not available without a valid beta participation account.
Main Issues With the Wave 4 Beta
- Windows Live Sync which requires a valid beta account and doesn’t run.
- Windows Live Photo Gallery will work but cannot login to the network (also requires a valid account).
- Windows Live Movie Maker requires an Aero compatible video card or it will not run at all.
- Some of the applications crash at times (they are still beta!).
Overall, the applications run fairly well and perform decently. There are probably features that are still missing (like ribbon customization) but they are decent enough quality that they were released to Microsoft employees for testing.
Installing the Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 and Patches
- Extract the RAR archive from the torrent and run the Windows Live Essentials installer named “run this first.exe”. Select the components you would like and proceed through the installation process.
- Make sure that no Windows Live applications are running, if they are make sure you exit them.
- Open the XML file “then run this second.xml”, it will open up in Internet Explorer and the information bar will pop up and tell you it has blocked running active content on your computer (picture).
- Click the information bar and select the option to run the content. After the page reloads it should be installed.
- Finally, run the patch named “then run this patch lastly.exe” and install it.
- Restart your computer. After rebooting you should be able to use the new Windows Live betas!
(You do not have to worry about the Internet Explorer 9 tech preview installer that is also included in the archive)
The main feature is the new ribbon interface which has been added to Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Writer. Many of the apps have moved things to the ribbon or to new side panes. There are new view and sorting options for many applications.
The new social integration features (like FaceBook updates) have been integrated into Windows Live and there are better publishing options as well. Live Messenger now supports tabbed conversation windows (like Lotus Sametime) and a new Social Mode.
Windows Live Writer adds better account support and blog sites can provide links to services and extensions which are available in the editor. You can create custom manifest files which define features for other types of blog sites. Editing is much easier with the options on the ribbon (rather than under menus) and plugin features are more accessible. You can also configure advanced permissions for posts like allowing comments and pings from the editor.
Windows Live Photo Gallery adds GeoTags (location tags) and many additional photo editing tools. The ribbon also makes working with tags and other meta data much easier.
- Windows Live Mail is prone to crashes when switching between the shortcuts (the lower right icons for Calendar, Contacts, Feeds…).
- Various Windows Live Writer plugins may cause it to crash, but most of them have no problem. Unfortunately there is no published command line option for running Live Writer without plug-ins so you can use the GUI to manage them. You will have to manually remove the offending plugin from the “C:\Program Files\Windows Live Writer\Plugins” folder. If they are in another location they may be COM objects and you should run their uninstall program to unregister them (or use “regsvr32 /u <DLL FILE NAME>” to do it manually).
- All of the tested Windows Live Photo Gallery plug-ins worked properly.
- A-Patch is an application which patches Live Messenger to remove adds and change other features like nudge delay and maximum file transfers. There is no version of a-patch which will patch the beta version of Live Messenger yet.
- Microsoft beta’s often do not update automatically to the full release and may require you manually uninstall the beta from Programs and Features (appwiz.cpl) before you can install the release version (when it comes out).
The new Windows Live beta applications are pretty nice and I personally like the new versions enough that I will use them instead of the old versions on my systems. This post was written and published in the beta Windows Live Writer.
I would not recommend installing it for every user, especially with the sign-in issue and possible crashes. Some of the earlier Windows Live betas (like the first Windows Live releases, and wave 3) were good enough that the betas could be installed for most users. I don’t feel this release is good enough quality yet.