Usually I’m not akin to using beta software but Microsoft has a whole bunch of "Live" branded stuff at so I figured I’d check it out.

I first tested some of the software on my laptop which happens to be a 1.5GHz Celeron M with 1GB of RAM. Way too slow; I had to revert back to the current-gen Live products because the slowness was agonizing.

On my big box (1.8GHz Core 2 Duo, 2GB RAM) the Live beta software runs a whole lot better, and in fact I’m using Windows Live Writer beta to publish this article.

Here’s my quickie reviews of Writer, Mail and Messenger beta.

Before I get into the reviews, I noticed something during the install.


Microsoft, there is NO EXCUSE FOR THIS. None. Shame, shame.


Windows Live Writer Beta

Verdict: Good.

This is better than the current version. No question. The image editing capability that’s in the Technical Preview version (such as "Crop", "Tilt" and so on) is in this. Very cool.

In addition the interface is a whole lot cleaner.

Windows Live Mail Beta

Verdict: Bad.

Those nice little icons at the top indicating what did what are completely gone. It’s nothing but "text buttons" now. Looks like Netscape 1.0. BAD. Usability goes down a huge notch just from that alone.

Switching back to "Default color" does not work.

The calendar is nice and all that, but the software gets "confused" when you try to switch back and forth between mail and the calendar.

Buggy. Not good.

Windows Live Messenger

Verdict: Good.

Notable improvements can be seen immediately. The new mail indicator is much more visible (very nice), the "What’s New" at the bottom allows you to scroll thru your Contacts updates (very cool), the overall look is far cleaner and doesn’t look "toy" like as the current version does.

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This is probably the best product of all the betas. If you use Windows Messenger (formerly MSN Messenger), yes you will like this. A lot.

Will I continue to use these?

Not in the beta versions, no. I will wait until the full versions are released.

To note: When you uninstall the betas, it does not revert back to the previous versions of the software. You have to go back to and re-download them.

And no, your mail will not disappear. When you reinstall the previous version of mail, your mail store will still be there (mine was).