Yesterday, Microsoft dropped the new Windows Live Essentials beta, adding tons of new publishing and web service options to their suite of consumer desktop applications. Here's a look what's changed in the beta and how the new apps stack up.
Click any of the images below for a closer look.
Integration With Your Favourite Social Websites
The biggest update to this Windows Live Essential beta is the overall added support for web services and social networking. Windows Live now connects to and supports a variety of popular online accounts, including Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, Gmail, WordPress and many more. Some of these improvements are more well-integrated in certain programs than others, but Microsoft's giving easier access to a ridiculous amount of your accounts instantly.
Depending on the program and what services you connect to your Windows Live account, you can share what you've been doing on other websites, see friends and updates, or share your Windows Live activity. We'd recommended you manage your services on the Windows Live account page, where you can get a better idea of all the accounts you're connecting, since connecting to your accounts from within the apps is somewhat cumbersome. Windows Live allows you to control your different privacy account settings however you like.
Windows Live Messenger
Windows Live Messenger gets a revamped look, adding support for Facebook and MySpace. Now it's possible to comment and see your friends' activity while being connected to Windows Live Messenger chat buddies. You can also add other people from other services like Google Contacts or LinkedIn, but they will have to accept your invite before you can communicate via Windows Live.
Windows Live Photo Gallery
Windows Live Photo Gallery manages photos (with limited support for videos), and allows instant publishing to file and photo services like Facebook, Flickr and SkyDrive. It's possible to tag people using your social network info — and if you upload the photo to Facebook, the tags transfer.
Windows Live Movie Maker
Likewise with the updated Windows Live Movie Maker, it's now much easier to publish your videos to SkyDrive, YouTube or Facebook without much hassle.
Windows Live Mail
The Windows Live Mail beta adds support for the newly redesigned Hotmail, Gmail and Yahoo! Mail. There's not much else here except that it's much easier to add your webmail, and Mail is a decent option for a Microsoft-built desktop email client without shelling out for Outlook.
Windows Live Sync
The new Windows Live Sync keeps your files synchronised across multiple PCs and to Microsoft's online file storage service, SkyDrive. What's nice about Live Sync is that it will also keep your Internet Explorer, if you still use it, and Microsoft Office program settings synced to computers connected to your Windows Live account. The program also adds a remote access feature that allows you to access your computer remotely.
Windows Live Writer
The Windows Live Writer beta now connects to blogging platforms like Blogger, Spaces and WordPress, so that you can instantly write and publish posts online without having to login to the selected blogging platform. Lifehacker's How-To Geek swears by this one.
Have you downloaded the new Windows Live Essentials beta, and giving all of these new features a try? Let us know your experience in the comments below.