Microsoft readies Beta 2 of Windows Live Essentials 2011

Microsoft is preparing to deliver a second beta of the next version of its Windows Live Essentials suite next week.
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft is preparing to deliver a second beta of the next version of its Windows Live Essentials suite next week.

That's the word from blogger Francisco Martin Garcia, who posted about the coming beta on his blog on August 11. (Garcia's had a good track record on predicting Microsoft delivery dates for various consumer wares.) Enthusiast site Neowin also is reporting the second beta will hit next week, naming Tuesday, August 18 17 as the likely delivery date. I am hearing the 17th is Microsoft's target for the beta, as well.

(Microsoft officials aren't commenting on when or if a next Windows Live Essentials beta will hit.)

Windows Live Essentials is a bundle of a number of the Windows Live add-on services, unified via a common installer. The latest Essentials suite is codenamed Windows Live Essential Wave 4 -- but expected to be known as Windows Live Essentials 2011 when the final version is rolled out. It 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 July June.

Microsoft originally was touting the forthcoming free Windows Live Essentials Suite as something that can meet and beat the $79 Apple iLife suite. More recently, Microsoft officials began positioning the next version of the Essentials suite -- plus the other Windows Live services that aren't part of Essentials (like Hotmail) as the foundation of Microsoft users' "personal clouds." Live Essentials is meant to complement Windows 7 and Vista, but won't install on XP.

According to Garcia, the new beta will incorporate new icons, new features and many bug fixes. He didn't specify any of those features or fixes. One fix I'm personally hoping for is to remedy whatever is kept Windows Live Messenger Wave 4 Beta 1 from working on my Windows 7 PC. I got it to work twice but then kept receiving messages telling me the service was unavailable. When I did log in, Messenger froze my PC. Microsoft officials didn't have a suggested fix for me, so I'm back to the Wave 3 Live Messenger for now.

Microsoft officials haven't said when to expect the company to launch the final version of Live Essentials 2011/Wave 4. Originally it was expected this summer, but fall is now looking more likely.

Meanwhile, in other Windows Live news, Microsoft is now telling Hotmail users who are having problems reading and writing e-mail after being upgraded to Wave 4 Hotmail that fixes are in the works for various problems. One hotfix is coming this week, Microsoft officials are saying, and another may be rolled out as part of a refresh for Hotmail next week, according to reports.

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