Microsoft: Windows Live Wave 4 test bits due in 'the coming weeks'

Microsoft: Windows Live Wave 4 test bits due in 'the coming weeks'

Summary: How long have we been hearing the next version of Microsoft's Windows Live "Wave 4" services are "coming soon"? I've lost count. But on April 21, Chris Jones, Corporate Vice President of the Windows Live Experience, said the same again.


How long have we been hearing the next version of Microsoft's Windows Live "Wave 4" services are "coming soon"? I've lost count. But on April 21, Chris Jones, Corporate Vice President of the Windows Live Experience, said the same again. in an official capacity.

Microsoft will be rolling out sometime in the next few weeks to a small group of select testers the "Wave 4" versions of the new Hotmail, Live Messenger and Windows Live Essentials, Jones said in an April 21 blog post.

Update (April 22): As one Microsoft official reminded me, Microsoft's Windows Live team has not publicly committed to a delivery date for Windows Live Wave 4 before now. However, a number of my readers have said they've been hearing privately about Windows Live Wave 4 due dates and schedules for months. Various services have leaked repeatedly. We've seen tons of screen shots. I guess that explains why so many of us Microsoft watchers feel like we've been hearing about Windows Live Wave 4 even though we haven't been provided with an official beta yet.

Jones told me during a phone conversation yesterday that there are "tens of thousands" of people inside Microsoft already using the Wave 4 services (plus many other thousands using leaked and torrented versions, which Jones didn't mention). The private Wave 4 beta will be expanded to a larger group shortly thereafter, he said, with the final release of the services-only WIndows Live properties coming first, followed by the Windows Live properties that include both a service and a software component before the end of the year.

Jones declined to be any more specific on the timeline. The rumored final release to the Web for Windows Live Wave 4 is this summer.

Jones did confirm what many of us have been expecting: The Windows Live Wave 4 client software won't work on Windows XP.

"Our focus is on Windows 7 and, to a lesser extent, Windows Vista," Jones said. He attributed the decision not to create an XP version to Microsoft's decision to support features that were only available in Windows 7 and Vista. He noted that Windows Live services that don't include a software client (like Hotmail, for example) will continue to work in the browser on XP.

Given that Windows Live Wave 4 is meant to complement Windows 7 (which RTM'd last July), what's been the hold-up, I asked Jones. Isn't one of Microsoft's goals with services like Windows Live and Bing to be able to push out new features more rapidly than Microsoft traditionally has done via its "big bang" operating system releases?

"Customers don't want change to be too rapid" with certain kinds of software and services, he said. No one wants their email changing in a major way every few months, he claimed. That said, "we do want to be responsive to customers' requests." He said Microsoft has been introducing quietly incremental changes to Hotmail, Messenger and other Live services every two to three months.

Jones wouldn't talk about specific features for any of Microsoft's Windows Live Wave 4 deliverables. (Many of them are pretty well-known, given all the aforementioned leaks and screen shots of them over the past year or so.) But he did emphasize that Microsoft's goal with the Wave 4 release is to complement existing email, photo-sharing, document-collaboration and social networking properties, not to replace them.

"Our (Windows Live Wave 4) services are not meant to try to get you to switch to something new," he said. People already have more than enough e-mail clients, social networks, event-planning sites and photo-sharing centers.

"Don't expect to see new or more (Windows Live) services from us," Jones said. "Expect us to do more things like adding more sharing options to e-mail." And with the new Windows Live Essentials, "we'll make it easier to connect with what you already use," he added.

Topics: Windows, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Software


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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  • Liars

    It uses the Windows Ribbon APIs which only Vista and Windows 7 have but they could very well have used the (better in fact) Office 2007/2010 ribbon. LIARS. They don't have a genuine technical reason like IE9 has to not support XP.
    • Yes they have a very good Techincal reason

      Support for XP is over. That is more than enough reason for them to stop developing for it. Also, do you have proof that is all that is native to Vista and 7 that is not in XP that they used? They cannot support XP forever, just like if you brought a 10 year old chevy to the dealer they will charge you to fix it and Windows Live is Free so put 2 and 2 together.
      • Not our fault that XP is old

        XP is not 10 year old yet, 8.5 years. In any case, last 2 software releases are supported but Vista was late and was largely ignored and Windows 7 came 2 years later. XP support will end in 2014 and Windows 7 Home and Ultimate support ends in 2015 (only Win 7 Pro and Enterprise get extended support of 5 years). Vista Home and Ult support ends in 2012 that's by the time they release IE9 yet Vista is supported. They don't get any more money from XP customers hence the decision that is obvious. XP is old and not possible technically, that's false talk.
        • Try just getting over it.

          Beggars can't be choosers. They're offering these
          tools free. You didn't buy XP with any implied
          right to future value-add apps. If Microsoft
          wants to use these apps as leverage to encourage
          people to move from XP to Vista and Windows 7,
          they have every right and reason to do so!
    • Nobody is lying

      They didn't say there was absolutely no way XP
      could have been supported. Simply that technical
      decisions were made that ruled XP support out.
      With users flocking to Window 7, why would they
    • Try again

      There are technical reasons. For example, the limitations in XP made it impossible for them to continue supporting it:

      [i]"In a blog post today, Brian Hall announced that the software will not support Windows XP: "Change isn't always easy, and I know there have been some growing pains as we've moved from Windows Movie Maker to Windows Live Movie Maker. I want to address one thing we think you might be concerned about -- OS support...In order to take advantage of the latest and greatest technologies available on the Windows platform, we optimized the new Windows Live Movie Maker for Windows Vista and Windows 7. As a result you get support for newer file formats like HD, a new graphics driver model which brings more reliable and stable support for high-end graphics, and a new engine on top of DirectX, which improves speed and enables even more advanced capabilities over time. If you're still using Windows XP, Windows Movie Maker 2.1 for Windows XP is still a great option."[/i]

      XP is old and on its way out. Newer technologies not present in XP really limit newer programs from running on the platform, and has Windows 7 support increases, expect this trend to continue.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Can't wait

    Will this be a public beta?
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • public beta

      Hi. I am not sure. Even getting that piece of info was not possible. They really didn't want to say much about WL Wave 4 this week at all... I am thinking at least some of these services will be available as a public beta, though... MJ
      Mary Jo Foley
  • Microsoft should get back in touch with their customer base

    I've been using MSN IM and Hotmail for more than ten years now without much complaining.

    However, I am more and more getting the impression that Microsoft is loosing the connection to their customer base.

    Last year they announced to turn off http/webdav access to Hotmail without offering a viable alternative (and no, I do not count POP3 a viable alternative - where's IMAP?).

    Shortly after the announcement they released an update for Entourage 2008 which removed http/webdav without further notice! It was just gone after installing the update and restarting Entourage, which made me abandon Entourage completely...

    Now they are dropping support for the majority of the Windows client deployments (shaking head), again, without offering a viable alternative (and no, I do not consider it a viable alternative to use Web-only or stick with an old version).

    So, what's next? Requiring Silverlight? Turn off POP3 and force everybody to use the undocumented new http protocol (only available for their full Outlook product)?

    I for now have abandoned Hotmail in favor of other free services which offer POP3/IMAP (including SSL), Calendering, Contacts, Bookmarks, file storage and RSS reading without crippling the end user with client-side restrictions (and even opening the used protocols to allow third-parties to tap into those services).

    Microsoft is missing one major point here: they lost the mobile device market already and now they are starting to p*** off another huge amount of their customer base by stop loving them.

    I would've understood dropping Windows XP support after it has reached it's end of product life cycle, but what they're doing now is just another nail in the coffin.

    Sorry for the harsh words, but it is really frustrating to see how Microsoft turns away from their customers. There are billions of computers sold to home users with Windows XP pre-installed. It works perfectly for those people, so why should they reach out and buy an OS update if it costs aprx. 1/4 of a new computer?

    Another example: try to open with Mozilla Firefox on Ubuntu (even with scripting turned on the UI is corrupted). And this is what Microsoft calls their premium product for collaboration and Web publishing? Yikes!
  • RE: Microsoft: Windows Live Wave 4 test bits due in 'the coming weeks'

    Just tried with FF and Chrome 4 beta and it works great