Microsoft finally delivered the first Windows Live Suite, a single installer that allows you to install a number of Windows Live programs as a single download that updates regularly. Go to this site and configure your 1.8 megabyte download, picking from these products:
- Windows Live Mail – the ad-supported desktop email client that integrates well with Windows Live Hotmail, but lets you add any regular email account, plus RSS feeds, spell checking, PhotoMail and Windows Live Contacts. Replaces Outlook Express in Windows XP and Windows Mail in Windows Vista.
- Windows Live Photo Gallery – software for managing, finding, sharing, tagging and editing photos. Replaces Windows Photo Gallery in Vista and is a completely new feature for XP.
- Windows Live Writer – blog posting tool, supporting almost all popular blogging software. Considered one of the best products in its category.
- Windows Live Messenger – instant messaging, compatible with Yahoo Messenger. By getting it as part of the Suite, you don’t have to worry as much about installing new versions.
- Windows Live Sign-In assistant – required install, helps you sign in to Windows Live ID. When you visit a Windows Live ID site in your browser, the sign-in assistant can help out by displaying large buttons for various Live IDs and, in some cases, letting you just click on the account you want to sign in.
- Windows Live OneCare Family Safety – parental control software, allows parents to monitor and restrict a child’s internet access
- Windows Live Toolbar – Internet Explorer toolbar, very powerful toolbar for accessing Windows Live sites and services.
All the software included features newer updated versions. Live Messenger has some bugs fixed. Live Mail has a new List View for contacts, contacts import/export improvements, toolbar customization, Quick Views, improved Layout Dialog options, changing your sign in account, Photo E-Mail updates and Newsgroup updates.
Live Writer is hugely improved. The new version has video insertion (from Soapbox, including your own account, and other video websites), image uploading to Blogger/PicasaWeb, the ability to publish XHTML-style markup, 28 new languages, printing blog posts, justifying and aligning post text, and better image handling, including a fix for the blurry images problem, in addition to bug fixes and installation issues.
Live Photo Gallery gets improved color adjustment and cropping capabilities, image sharpening, shadow and highlight levels, image resizing, batch image resizing, a picture import tool that grabs pictures from your camera in a much better way than Vista or XP do, publishing photos to Windows Live Spaces and videos to MSN Soapbox. This is the first public beta of this software, also.
One complaint: The Suite is not yet available for 64-bit systems.
Curiously, the Suite offers to set your homepage to MSN.com, not Live.com, which probably indicates the change in strategy away from the personalized homepage.