Tag: "windows live"

Turning that advert off in Windows Live Messenger (Wave 4)

A new beta build of Windows Live Messenger Wave 4 was released yesterday. Like the previous Wave 4 build, conversation view was plagued by an annoying advert, yes you could close it to make it go away but it was an annoying extra click.

Windows Live Messenger (Wave 4)

Yes, well annoying. Microsoft have however also added an option to turn it off. This only effects the conversation view, not the Social or Contact list views. It is fairly well hidden in options. If you make your way to Messages and down the bottom under Conversations is an option called "Show expanded footer in conversation windows" uncheck that and the advert will be hidden by default.

Windows Live Messenger (Wave 4)

Sorted. My main issue has been resolved, now if only we could get handwriting support back.

Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 beta up

It's not yet appearing on all of Microsoft's websites yet, but here's the URL: http://explore.live.com/windows-live-essentials-beta.

Enjoy.

First impressions, setup is much better. Glad I don't have to see that woman grinning into her coffee anymore like with Wave 3!

Update: replaced direct download link with the official webpage.

Clearing up storage confusion with Live Mesh and Live Sync

Last week Microsoft formally announced Windows Live Sync, the new version of which is based on Live Mesh. Live Mesh gave users 5GB of cloud storage to which they could sync data to. As well as near-unlimited data transfer between PCs.

The new Windows Live Sync, based on Mesh continues to offer most of the functionality that Live Mesh provided, bar the Live Desktop which mimicked the PC desktop as a way to offer data currently stored in the cloud which was removed as well as a few other little things here and there.

Since Live Mesh was introduced back in 2008, it sat competing with the then primitive Live Sync which only offered PC to PC synchronisation. Live Mesh was no question the better of the two so it's no surprise it is being used as the basis for the next version of Live Sync. Through Windows Live, people get 25GB of cloud storage on SkyDrive. An obvious move going forward would be to unify the Mesh and SkyDrive storage. That's basically what they've done in this release.

But you can only store 2GB of synchronised data to SkyDrive. Why?

Microsoft cites cost. Everyone shouts bogus, saying they're giving people 25GB anyway. What people aren't getting is it's really hard to fill up 25GB of space when you upload through a website or through Office, with a maximum file size of 50MB. I keep a copy of my entire picture library up there and I'm only using 6GB of it and I'm probably the top 1% of SkyDrive users.

Yet if you had folders on your computer that are set to automatically synchronise in the background to SkyDrive, that 25GB would start filling up really fast. And that would be dramatically more expensive than the current state where I'd guess the average SkyDrive account has a few megabytes of storage being used.

Give it time and no doubt Microsoft will increase the amount of synchronised storage. Sure it's a bit of a bummer that Mesh users have to downgrade to 2GB. But this isn't some geeky toy like Live Mesh was. This is a consumer product that will be installed on hundreds of millions of machines. That equals a lot of hard drives in the cloud, and that isn't cheap.

New build of Windows Live Essentials released

The new build of Windows Live Essentials beta has been released, this is part of the Wave 3 rollout.

Quick thoughts...

Windows Live Messenger has had a large overhaul since 8.5. It is much better looking and intergrated better with the web services now.

Windows Live Mail has reached the point where I would recommend people to use this over Outlook Express or Windows Mail, it looks clean and is faster than the Wave 2 release.

Windows Live Photo Gallery has a few new features, the new cleaner look. I don't like the inconsistency with the UI compared with Media Player and Photo Gallery on Windows Vista however.

Windows Live Movie Maker is still much earlier in development and is lacking many of the features of the versions that shipped with Windows.

Windows Live Writer has had an overhaul, a couple of new bits, but largely still seems to function the same way as the Wave 2 release.

Haven't used the Toolbar or Family safety so can't comment on them. In my opinion this is a very near final release, it still has the beta tags but over the last day or so has proved to be stable and usable. You can download the pack from download.live.com.

Windows Live Wave 3 looks good

There I said it – the Wave 3 web stuff looks good. It is a dramatic improvement and really marks a turning point in the Windows Live services. I was originally not going to bother writing about this, I was planning to just cover the software side of the release (rumour has it the release candidates will be made available next week) but I thought this was worthy of some mention and I encourage you to check it out if you haven't already.

Not all parts of it are on the same release, Hotmail, Calendar and People won't be updated to match the rest (there are some subtle differences between them) until early next year.

What's the deal with this release? I suppose I would sum it up as being sort of a Facebook-lite, Spaces has been de-centralised from a lot of the social-networking stuff and the old profiles have been pushed forward instead.

The good:

Looks attractive, well integrated.

When viewing a contacts status on say their profile – it actually changes in real time; you don't need to reload the page. Very nice, lots of fancy AJAX tricks like that used throughout.

Photos taken out of Spaces, stored in SkyDrive now with 25GB of storage (holy moly this web server only has a 13GB drive).

Photo slideshows have no competition if you're using Silverlight.

Spaces actually looks respectable now, hell it actually looks nice, time will tell if they've tackled the comment spam problems though.

Nice to see Profiles being used again, I had a look down my contact list; most haven't been updated in years back when they were integrated tighter with Messenger. Nice to see this being overhauled, previous efforts at social-networking were centred around Spaces and were a complete failure, this is a much better direction to take.

The bad:

Animated graphical ads still around, albeit in better locations. I haven't clicked on an animated ad this millennium. They're annoying, when I'm trying to read something I don't want zero-priority interrupts being sent to my brain thanks. Text ads or at least static graphics please.

Contacts are a bit confusing and how they're handled with regard to Messenger, your Network and so on. I hope that's related to Hotmail being a release behind.

Home has some limited customization options; I'd like to see more. It does have a few nice surprises like being able to see your Office Live Workspaces on there too.

My.live.com which I use as my homepage hasn't been updated. Apparently this is owned by the Live Search team and not the Windows Live team. Guys – update it, hand it over to the Windows Live team if you don't want it, this makes a good home page for power users.

Now I just need to wait for the client-side applications. We'll be relying on these guys for the Windows 7 era applications - let's hope they can bring some dramatic improvements.

Unbundling from Windows "7" concerns

So as many have no doubt heard it looks like Microsoft are planning to remove Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Windows Mail from Windows codename "7".

Instead what will be expected is for people to use the Windows Live suite of applications, which now includes Movie Maker (a much stripped down Movie Maker in its current form), as well as a e-mail application which can tie in with Hotmail (which the built in Windows one never could) and a photo gallery application.

I've got a few concerns with this, firstly does this mean Windows won't come with an e-mail client? Or, will the current build of Windows Live be included on the Windows disc and refreshed with service pack releases?

I understand the reasons for Microsoft reducing the duplication from having an OS e-mail client and a Windows Live one and so on, but when you're talking about removing things we've expected an operating system to have for the last 15 years you need to look at what you're doing from an end user perspective, and for the average end user that will mean being confused and not being able to find their e-mail program.

There are some advantages, such as more frequent updates. The Windows team are largely tied into the Windows release schedule, the Windows Live team have their own schedule so updates can be rolled out more rapidly.

But, to date I have not replaced any of the built in programs such as Windows Mail or Photo Gallery with their Live alternatives on my system. I have Live Photo Gallery installed, but I only use it for when I want to use one of the specific features I need, such as panoramic stitching.

This is because it looks different to the regular version of Photo Gallery, the Wave 2 release had a bright blue UI, and had its layout changed around a bit. The result was an application that did not blend in well with the rest of the Windows Vista, resulting in me continuing to use the regular Photo Gallery as the default. Not only that but Live Photo Gallery wanted to change the generic image icons to something other than the default system ones. There are few things more annoying, and confusing to end users than having the icons for things change. Such behavior is overly invasive.

If Microsoft are going through with this plan, they need to ensure the applications blend in well with the system, and that they don't tinker with things like icons in newer releases. If I can sit down at a Windows "7" system, and after a few releases of the Live suite not be able to spot any differences in the look and feel of an application - maybe they could get away with it. The Windows Live applications must not look like a crappy add-on bolted on the side of Windows, it must look and feel like Windows itself.

Lastly, advertising. Microsoft should come out and say that they will not feature advertising in any future versions of Live Photo Gallery, or Windows Live Mail, or the others. Unless the end user is making use of services with a back end in the cloud, namely Hotmail, Messenger etc. I pay good money for Windows, I don't want future versions to feature advertising in components that have historically been included with Windows.

Hopefully we'll have these concerns addressed at the PDC later this month.

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