A closer look at Essentials 2011 beta 2

Windows Live Messenger Wave 4 Beta refresh: About windowNow that you’ve had chance to download the Windows Live Essentials Wave 4 (2011) Beta refresh, it is time to take a closer look at what is new and changed.

Live Mail

Windows Live Mail now handles Gmail’s IMAP folders correctly, so Sent Mail and Trash get handled correctly. I’m sure you have noticed the new start-up splash screen, too.

Live Photo Gallery

The new SkyDrive icon has been integrated, and there are Quick Previews for edit actions.

Live Movie Maker

You can now take snapshots of a still frame in your project and save them as image files. Windows Live’s connection to flickr has been extended from only Photo Gallery in Beta 1 to Movie Maker too. This lets you upload videos from Movie Maker directly to your flickr Account.

Live Writer

Besides the obviously new splash screen, “Writer has significantly improved the quality of its spell-checking,” says Chris Jones, Vice President, Windows Live Engineering.

Update: Writer now also supports emoticons. Was about time, I think… 🙂 Thanks to @MissDazee for the tip!

Live Messenger

The first thing you will notice is a new sign-in animation for Messenger. The application has been speeded up wherever you look, from the sign-in to interface animations. Furthermore, Messenger video chat now uses 30% less memory resources by delegating some work to your graphics card.

Perhaps the most important news for this Beta refresh is that you’re now able to chat with your Facebook friends directly from Messenger. This applies if you live in either the United States, Great Britain, France, Brazil, Germany or Russia. Chris Jones explains:

Many of you have been asking for Facebook chat, and it’s finally here. More than half of all Messenger customers also use Facebook. With the new Facebook chat integration, you now also have one place to chat with all your friends.

[Connecting Messenger to Facebook Chat] is a significant task. We’re connecting Messenger’s ~300 million customers (who are already connected to Yahoo! Messenger and Office Communicator) to Facebook’s ~500 million customers.

How can I connect Messenger with Facebook Chat?

I will explain you step-by-step in a minute.

Get the Beta refresh

Free download: Windows Live Essentials 2011 (Wave 4) Beta 2