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Windows Live (wave 4) hits beta

A quick look at the new beta versions of Microsoft's next generation Windows Live services.
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1 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
The first install screen of Windows Live Essentials (Wave 4) which throws you head first into the installation program.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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2 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
Without even the option to select which applications to install, well it just installs everything and hopes that you like everything it has to offer.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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3 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
As you would probably expect - though maybe not this badly - the installer fails half way through and with a re-run, it wants you to reboot. Whether this will happen with everyone, I'm not sure but it's happened on two separate machines so far, so maybe it will.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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4 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
Eventually after about 5 minutes installing (not including the first try and the necessary reboot) it finishes doing its thing.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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5 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
The overly familiar "Have we met before?" box seems patronising, but going along with it is necessary to access the services.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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6 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
Adding access to Facebook and MySpace seems a little cringeworthy; even though you can mix and match all of your existing social networks, it feels like you're entering some kind of technological wife swap.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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7 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
I needed to get my glasses out to see this text, and even then it was difficult. It feels like someone's cranked up the "sharpen image" setting to give this badly-rendered text.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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8 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
As you would expect from an instant messenger, your contacts are there somewhere. Though at this point and for previous Wave 3 users, it's not exactly clear where they are. You actually have to read what's on the screen to see your online friends, which frankly as a power-user you shouldn't have to do.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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9 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
Out with the old and in with the new. Though thankfully for legacy users who don't particularly like change, you can revert back to the old interface which gives you your contact list and nothing else. However, it is quite handy seeing updates from your friends, yet those not equipped with the knowledge of the Zune/Windows Phone 7 user interface may be confused.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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10 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
Nothing much has changed from the instant messaging window, with the exception of new emoticons which gives the program a much needed facelift. Nevertheless, the old emoticons are so deeply embedded into the Generation Y's culture, even a slight change could throw even the most grounded of people into a tizz.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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11 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
Version 2010, build 15.3 (which is a step up from the previous Wave 3 build 14.x).
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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12 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
For those who have gone as far back as Windows Messenger pre-installed with Windows XP, you'll notice that the vast majority of the old settings have changed. It just seems a bit outdated, to be honest.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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13 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
Just with your Windows Live Profile, you can change the theme of your Messenger window which proves that you can in fact polish a turd; though you should be aware that it's still very much a turd.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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14 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
New Windows Live Mail users will be able to just open the application first off and access your email. You don't need to plug in any settings because it'll find them for you. Yet if you were to use say, Outlook Live or Live@edu, you still have to go through the painstaking process of entering the correct settings (...which is not as easy as you would think).
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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15 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
With so many users ditching Outlook's overly complicated interface for a more simplistic view, users may be disappointed as the developers seem to have packed as much as they possibly can into such a small space.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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16 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
Whatever happened to the simple "send a plain text" email? With email becoming a lot more social, some of these wide ranging options may be adored by many, though the vast majority will just want to send emails without hassle or distraction.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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17 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
It seems pretty much every Microsoft product at the moment has the Ribbon. The Windows Live (Wave 4) applications are no exception.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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18 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
The new Windows Live Photo Gallery which offers very much as it did in Wave 3, except adding more social non-Microsoft features and the best features hidden away in third or fourth tabs along the Ribbon.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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19 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
Quite possibly my favourite feature of all time is the ability to create a panoramic photo from a selection of single images, literally with the click of one button.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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20 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
As you can see, the results are pretty spectacular. Though the images created as a result of the panoramic photo feature do get rather big, and the stitching process seems to stall at the very end - even after the image is created.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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21 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
The very base features have not changed, thankfully, which at least gives some relief to old-school users which means they don't have to re-learn the entire process of image editing all over again.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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22 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
Live Mesh seems to have been re-branded as something simpler and easier to use. Though will this make the cut seeing as LogMeIn Free and Dropbox combined have been offering this for free for years already?
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.
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23 of 23 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet
As mentioned, the new installer just seems to install everything without asking - so when I opened Internet Explorer up, lo and behold was the Bing bar - much to my extreme annoyance.
To see a brief review of the new Windows Live (Wave 4) applications, visit the iGeneration blog.

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