Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new Windows Live Essentials

Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new Windows Live Essentials

Summary: It's been three years since Microsoft last released a public beta of its Windows Live Essentials suite. (So much for more rapid services releases.) But on June 3 ( just after12 midnight EST), the company finally went public with more details on the Windows Live Wave 4 Essentials suite.

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It's been three years since Microsoft last released a public beta of its Windows Live Essentials suite. (So much for more rapid services releases.)

But on June 3 (just after 12 midnight EST), the company finally went public with more details on the Windows Live Wave 4 Essentials suite. (It sounds like the actual public beta of this suite is still not happening until the end of June, however.)

Gallery: Windows Live Essentials

Expected to be christened officially as Windows Live Essentials 2011, the latest suite includes both software and services components designed to complement Windows (and especially Windows 7).

When Microsoft launched its current version of Windows Live Essentials, the company didn't position the suite as a head-to-head competitor with Apple's iLife. Things are different this time around, with Microsoft touting the forthcoming Windows Live Essentials Suite as something that can meet -- and, in some cases, beat -- the $79 Apple iLife suite.

The latest version of Windows Live Essentials includes, as expected, the same set of common software/services that was part of the current release, with a common installer allowing users to pick and choose which of the included apps/services they want to add to their Windows desktops. There are a bunch of other Windows Live Wave 4 services that aren't part of the Essentials suite and don't have a software stub that must be installed on a PC in order to access the service.

The latest Windows Live Essentials suite includes the following components:

  • Windows Live Mail (Web mail)
  • Windows Live Messenger (instant messaging)
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery
  • Windows Live Movie Maker
  • Windows Live Sync (Live Mesh plus the former Live Sync sync service)
  • Windows Live Writer (blogging tool)
  • Windows Live Family Safety (parental controls)
  • Bing Bar

While the new Essentials suite will work with Windows 7 and Windows Vista -- though not with Windows XP -- it is optimized for use with Windows 7, according to the Softies. From Microsoft's promotional literature:

"Windows Live Essentials has been optimized for Windows 7. The new ribbon is used throughout to make it easy to access the most frequently used tasks. JumpLists are a part of each application, taking you right to the shortcuts you use every day. In addition, Windows Live Movie Maker takes advantage of codecs available in Windows 7, and photos can be adjusted using touch on any touch-enabled Windows 7-based PC."

As noted via tips and numerous leaked builds, the new versions of Live Photo Gallery and Movie Maker include new facial recognition and a "Fuse" photo-synth capability that sounds similar to PhotoSynth in concept. The new Windows Live Sync sounds like the former WL sync service munged together with Live Mesh, also as predicted.

I'm hearing Microsoft is planning to position WL Wave 4 Messenger as its alternative to Apple's iChat; Photo Gallery to Apple's iPhoto; Movie Maker to iMovie; Live Mail to Apple Mail; Live Writer to iWeb; and Family Safety to the Mac OS X Parental Controls. Microsoft has no comparable offering to Apple's GarageBand music-creation app, the Softies admit -- though Microsoft could have been a contender if it ever brought its "Monaco" app to fruition.

Microsoft is advising customers to compare iLife to Windows Live Essentials when making their PC purchasing decisions, according to Microsoft documentation. While iLife costs $79 for the add-on applications suite, Windows Live Essentials is free for the software. And iLife also costs users another $99 annually for its service components, while the Windows Live Essentials service complements to the add-on software are free, the Softies are saying.

I guess Microsoft's decision to take off its competitive gloves vis-a-vis Apple, post-Windows-Vista, also applies to the add-on services part of Microsoft's Windows/Windows Live portfolio.

What do you think? Is Microsoft's marketing message around the next version of Windows Live Essentials correctly positioning against Apple's iLife? Will it sway any potential customers?

Topics: Apple, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software, Windows

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • RE: Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new

    iLife is free with a new Mac
    computerchipt
    • iT doesn't matter

      * Windows Live Mail (Web mail) seldom use
      * Windows Live Messenger (instant messaging) even less use
      * Windows Live Photo Gallery - not worth anything
      * Windows Live Movie Maker - they can keep it
      * Windows Live Sync (Live Mesh plus the former Live Sync sync service) - no need for it
      * Windows Live Writer (blogging tool) - blogger works better
      * Windows Live Family Safety (parental controls) - yeah right
      * Bing Bar - really? does anyone actually use this?
      Uralbas
      • You're wrong on most of those...

        @Uralbas ... Your assumptions may be true for you, but worldwide, they are grossly underestimated. Hotmail and Messenger are used more than every other competitor product in the world combined when you look at global usage of the products, so I'm pretty sure that people do care. Photo Gallery is decent already, but the new features of that AND Live Sync (combining Mesh and Sync) makes it much more valuable. Live Writer is my primary tool for blog publishing with WordPress-hosted blogs (of which I've developed several), and I have several parent friends who have used Family Safety for a few years now.
        GoodThings2Life
      • Didn't you read the article?

        "Microsoft could have been a contender" if only they could have produced the software. To be fair they only had 3 years. A press release has been issued, for a Beta at the end of the month.

        This is all USD8+ BILLION a year buys MS. They almost get to compete with a company spending a fraction of that amount. Well done MS. More gold;-)
        Richard Flude
      • RE: Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new Windows Live Essentials

        @Uralbas Sounds like you use a MAC and not Windows . . .
        rmark@...
      • RE: Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new Windows Live Essentials

        @Uralbas In three words: Yes It Does!
        eargasm
    • fud

      @computerchipt
      just the usual fud and misinformation from "softies" loving mary(giving cute names for a company, boy that is odd). ilife comes free with every mac and no, there is no annual $99 fee for any "service component".

      maybe she meant mobile me, which is something else entirely, has nothing to do with ilife and costs you $70 (not $99) at amazon.
      banned from zdnet
      • FUD????

        @banned from zdnet
        I have a mac. it came with iLife. So when the new version of iLife comes out, do I get it for free? I think not. That is the point Mary is trying to make!
        rjohn05
      • RE: Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new

        @rjohn05
        From the context it is quite clear that is NOT the point she is trying to make. She is writing about what MS says people should consider in purchasing a new PC. In this context it is free vs. free. Her placing a price tag on it is misinformed and disingenuous.
        I am not that surprised however.

        Hey Mary Jo, how is that Courier coming?!? I seem to recall some predictions I made in that area last year, about it NOT being real and about it NEVER coming to market that you took issue with (since you have so much "inside info.")
        SpiritusInMachina
      • RE: Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new Windows Live Essentials

        @banned from zdnet

        Sorry but you need an education - softies is not something that Mary Jo made up - it is one industry Nickname for Microsoft
        Djblois
    • RE: Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new

      @computerchipt

      And, you don't need to buy MobileMe for $99 so everything is free if you buy a new Mac. Plus you don't need to buy anti virus/malware/adware software and Macs "just work".
      stevemcintosh@...
      • RE: Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new Windows Live Essentials

        @stevemcintosh@...

        "free" when you buy a new mac..but who has $2,000 for a mac ? I don't. I just built a windows PC for under $500 and it works great. I use openoffice and it cost me $70 for 3 years for Norton. But boy it must be nice to have money to buy "Free" mac software.
        doubleOseven
      • RE: Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new Windows Live Essentials

        @stevemcintosh@...
        "free" when you buy a new mac..but who has $2,000 for a mac ? I don't. I just built a windows PC for under $500 and it works great. I use openoffice and it cost me $70 for 3 years for Norton. But boy it must be nice to have money to buy "Free" mac software.
        doubleOseven
      • RE: Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new Windows Live Essentials

        @stevemcintosh@...

        Keep thinking you do not need antivirus/malware/adware software for a MAC. If you read any security expert they will tell you MACs are much less secure than Windows. So keep that thought process.
        Djblois
      • All those Mac Viruses...

        @Djblois

        [i]Keep thinking you do not need antivirus/malware/adware software for a MAC. If you read any security expert they will tell you MACs are much less secure than Windows. So keep that thought process.[/i]

        I guess an analog to Macs vs. PC's in respect to viruses would be wearing the best kevlar armor while storming a machine gun nest vs. wearing a polo shirt back in your den in Indiana. Who is more likely to die of a gunshot wound?

        I don't think anyone believes the Mac has better virus "protection" than windows, just that they aren't any (in practical terms) affecting Mac users.

        For what it's worth, I like many have been guilty of using an unprotected Mac for 20 years, but I have never had any problem with any virus, trojan horse, malware or adware.
        But believe me, if viruses did start popping up frequently on the Mac then I like everyone else would get anti-virus software. Its that simple.

        I did actually run a virus sweeper once in the late 90's and found about 1700 Windows viruses that came in through floppies and zip disks. It might be that because Macs generally don't run protection software that we are like Typhoid Mary for Windows users. If so, Sorry.
        Tigertank
    • All those Mac Viruses...

      @computerchipt Keep thinking you do not need antivirus/malware/adware software for a MAC. If you read any security expert they will tell you MACs are much less secure than Windows. So keep that thought process.

      I guess an analog to Macs vs. PC's in respect to viruses would be wearing the best kevlar armor while storming a machine gun nest vs. wearing a polo shirt back in your den in Indiana. Who is more likely to die of a gunshot wound?

      I don't think anyone believes the Mac has better virus "protection" than windows, just that they aren't any (in practical terms) affecting Mac users.

      For what it's worth, I like many have been guilty of using an unprotected Mac for 20 years, but I have never had any problem with any virus, trojan horse, malware or adware.
      But believe me, if viruses did start popping up frequently on the Mac then I like everyone else would get anti-virus software. Its that simple.

      I did actually run a virus sweeper once in the late 90's and found about 1700 Windows viruses that came in through floppies and zip disks. It might be that because Macs generally don't run protection software that we are like Typhoid Mary for Windows users. If so, Sorry.
      cstrathmore
    • fud

      @computerchipt "Microsoft could have been a contender" if only they could have produced the software. To be fair they only had 3 years. A press release has been issued, for a Beta at the end of the month.

      This is all USD8+ BILLION a year buys MS. They almost get to compete with a company spending a fraction of that amount. Well done MS. More gold;-)
      cstrathmore
  • RE: Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new Windows Live Essentials

    Hi Mary Jo. When you talk to Microsoft can you ask them if they plan on adding a paid subscription to up the limit on Skydrive Sync Folders from 2GB to something more reasonable, say like 30-50GB? Also, what's the deal with development with Windows Live, is it dead?
    angarita calvo
    • I will ask them

      if and when the Windows Live team talks to me again, sure.

      Windows Live being dead -- I am thinking you mean the actual profile/Facebook-like functionality of the group of WL services? If so, LiveSide says it isn't dead and also will get some enhancements:

      http://www.liveside.net/main/archive/2010/05/28/wave-4-windows-live-profile-an-in-depth-overview.aspx

      MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
      • RE: Microsoft takes the wraps off its competitor to Apple's iLife, the new Windows Live Essentials

        @Mary Jo Foley Oops, forgot to clarify. I meant Windows Live for developers.
        angarita calvo