Live Essentials 2011; First Impressions

I installed Live Essentials 2011 on my netbook earlier this evening.  My overall first impressions are good.

I use Live Messenger to chat to some friends in the UK and USA.  I’m not a heavy user but it’s handy.  Now it has the ability to integrate into other social networks including Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace.  It has been set up to be extensible.  The social media stuff is a little cluttered with 2 columns.  I’d rather have 1 column like in Facebook.  The core piece of Messenger looks tidy enough.

The Mesh Beta proved to be very useful to me over the last 18 months as I worked on two books.  I could sync up different machines so I could work on my netbook on the train or a laptop at home.  One thing annoyed me; it was messy to set up.  I could do it but I wouldn’t expect any end user to be able to do it.  Live Mesh is much better set up for the ordinary end user and less annoying.  You can sync up IE favourites and Office configurations with the selection of a few checkboxes.  Adding folders to sync is an absolute breeze.  Everything syncs via a dedicated Skydrive sync folder (maximum data of 5GB).

Sugarsync looks good and is recommended by friends of mine in case more than 5GB is needed.  Test it for yourself.

Live Writer is how I usually write blog posts when I am at home or on the road.  Like all of the other tools, it features the ribbon interface.  So far, so good.  It seems to be a little fast to me on my netbook than the previous version.

The Windows Live Mail client is the rich client for Live/Hotmail.  The big thing I see there is conversation view.  And you know what –> it’s done better than than I saw in the Office 2010 pre-RTM versions (I still use Office 2007 because my publisher makes big changes to the ribbon).  Live Mail gives me simple one-click access to a complete conversation.  That’s going to make a big difference to me because I’m on some mail lists where the threads can be scattered over time and intermingled.  Now I have something to sort all of that out.

Most digital camera owners are casual photographers, using the JPEG format.  They’ll like Live Photo Gallery.  The ribbon reveals more functionality that can be done, including basic editing and adding metadata to photos.  I work more in the Photoshop world.  However, I do use Live Photo Gallery to quickly add photos to Flickr.  It continues to excel there, and also offers uploads to YouTube, Facebook, Live Groups, and Skydrive.  There are additional upload plugins that you can configure via a built-in link.  One tool that I liked in the past was ICE (Image Composite Editor).  It seems to have been integrated, allowing for simple and high quality stitching of photos to create panoramas.

That’s it for now.  So far, so good!

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