Windows Live Wave 4 Essentials beta was released today, but not everyone is happy. Zack Whittaker says simply that “it’s awful.” When describing the Mail portion of the app, Zack states “the program is clunky, sluggish and feels like it’s been thrown together by an angry child at best.” That doesn’t sound good. The only portion that Aack likes at all is Sync, which he claims works flawlessly.
Paul Thurrott, the Windows IT Pro, is much more optimistic in his review. In part: “Messenger is expanding to become the center of Microsoft’s social networking strategy and will integrate with Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and whatever else it is that people are doing these days. The sharing possibilities here are impressive, but I’m most excited by the news that Microsoft is going to deliver a native Windows Live Messenger application for the iPhone. We’re entering a new era here, folks.”
Formerly known as Windows Live Wave 4, Windows Live Essentials is available for download as a beta copy. The Microsoft software includes a suite of free applications including IM (instant messaging), photo/movie editor, email client and a live blogging tool.
If you’ve already tried out the beta, what are your thoughts so far?
Sean Carver is a rock star. No, seriously – he’s one of the guys at Microsoft who has always listened to my feedback. Not sure he’s always able to push my suggestions through the pipeline, but he really does listen (and I wish I could say that about more people I kenw). Microsoft just launched v8 of their Messenger product. It’s good, and I’d recommend it over previous versions of Microsoft’s IM client, but there are a few things that are holding it back from being great:
Yay: Cleaner, more efficient UI. I’m still not going to switch from Trillian 2.0, but I’m not immediately turned off by Windows Live Messenger’s interface. It’s still a bit laden with oversights, but not so many that it’s painful to use.
Boo: Advertisement overkill. Seriously, can’t I just pay to remove all ads from all Windows Live / MSN services? That, to me, would be worth $100 a year. Enough with the upsells, man – some of us just want to connect with friends and co-workers.
Yay: Yahoo! IM interoperability is coming. While this is a huge step in the right direction, I think more people would opt for the Yahoo! IM experience – which is far less annoying and contains fewer (if any) ads.
Boo: I don’t use MSN Spaces, I don’t use Windows Media Player, I don’t use Windows Live Mail, I don’t use Windows Live Search – but that’s all I can get to through Windows Live Messenger (go figure).
Yay: You can easily change the color of the window. Sounds like a minor feature, but try a few different colors on for size. It’s kinda nice!
Yay: You can import favorites from your del.icio.us account. Of course, I don’t use del.icio.us because they’re still blocking Gada.be – but it shows that Microsoft is willing to think outside their own universe (if only for importing).
Boo: You can’t control conversation fonts. I hate when people use 84pt Courier New to send messages to me. They think it’s wonderful – I don’t. And now, apparently, there’s no way of turning that off? Gah. Big mistake.
There, at least my impressions weren’t completely negative – but as I mentioned before, I’ll be sticking with Trillian 2.0 for the time being (going on record as stating that Trillian 3.0 is a performance dog). Windows Live Messenger 8.0 is certainly an improvement over 7.5. No instant messaging client is perfect, but if I were Microsoft, I’d start paying attention to Google. They hired the GAIM guy for Google Talk, ya know? No matter, I’m glad that Sean Carver’s team got this one out the door – but I want them to invite me into their office to make 8.5 a little more power-user friendly.