Windows Live (Wave 4) is out: The bits you'll love and hate

Screenshot gallery: Microsoft has now released the latest version of their social applications suite, named Windows Live Essentials 2011. A brief look at things you'll love, and things you'll surely hate.

As Mary Jo Foley reported this morning, Microsoft has now released the latest version of their social applications suite, named Windows Live Essentials 2011.

The installer is now live and can be downloaded from the Windows Live website. Very little has changed in terms of aesthetics or user interface, but the initial problems the beta faced with performance issues, sluggishness and an overwhelming feeling of bulk has been considerably reduced.

Though many features have remained and performance has been enhanced, many users will sill wish to remain with the previous Wave 3 applications for the sake of simplicity and a reluctance to switch over considering the previous bad press.

One thing though: performance wise, it has become so much better to the point I can actually use it on my computer, without wanting to rip out my own gall bladder and forcibly throw it at my screen in protest.

Focusing on the two most used applications for students and young people today, Messenger and Mail, these two screenshot galleries will guide you through the best and the worst.

On the face of it, the third-party services like Facebook, Flickr, Yahoo! integration and even Google's Gmail may well appeal to the average user, with profiles and accounts signed up to these services. But one cannot help escape the feeling that it is a desperate attempt to reclaim some of its users who have since defected to the other side of the social sphere, away from the ever confusing, downward turning Windows Live suite of applications and services.

For now, flick through the screenshot galleries above and download the bits for yourself. Only time will tell whether it has been a success or a flop.

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