As expected, Microsoft is making a new beta of its Windows Live Essentials 2011 (known currently as "Wave 4") available for download on Tuesday, August 17.
Windows Live Essentials is a bundle of a number of the Windows Live add-on services, unified via a common installer. The Wave 4 suite includes updated versions of Messenger, Live Mail, Writer, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Live Sync (which is now Live Mesh plus the existing Live Sync), Family Safety and the Bing Toolbar. Microsoft delivered a first beta of the Wave 4 bundle in late June.
Update: Earlier today, LiveSide posted a link where anyone interested in testing the Beta 2 "beta refresh" build can download it. But Microsoft is advising those who want to test the latest build to use the Microsoft-provided download link, starting at 11 a.m. PT, instead, in order to get the latest full set of features and updates.
According to Microsoft officials, "those currently using the (existing Windows Live Essentials) Beta will simply need to update to see the new and updated features. The update is largely dedicated to improving performance and innovation based on customers’ needs; however, there are some incremental refreshes of existing features within Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Family Safety, Mail and Writer."
That said, there are a few new features in the updated beta build, according to the Softies. These include Facebook Chat Integration in Messenger; Bing Maps Geotag integration in Photo Gallery; and Flickr video publishing in Movie Maker.
Microsoft officials haven't said when and whether to expect another beta or test build of the Essentials suite. The final version is expected to be released to the Web this fall by many of us Microsoft watchers. (Note: Microsoft is still not acknowledging the final name of the suite will be Windows Live Essentials 2011, but a number of different sources have found links and documentation indicating this likely will be the final name. Even Microsoft is acknowledging now that the final name will be Windows Live Essentials 2011 (which, as we know, means there's a lot of leeway as to when the product may end up going final).
If you download the latest beta of the suite, I'm curious to hear what you think of the new build. I might give the new Live Messenger build another try, given I couldn't get it to work the first time around....