Windows Live Essentials gets a makeover

Well, Windows Live Essentials has been updated to the 2011 edition and they have, at last, gone back to proper toolbars with icons, replacing text labelled buttons in the last few editions. In fact, the WLE applications (I’m using Writer to post this) are now using the Ribbon like Office does, this is the first time I’ve seen another app from MS that uses the Ribbon. I would guess there are more buttons and options on the toolbars as well, which is partly necessary because the menu bar has disappeared. There is a Quick Access toolbar as well, just like in Office, except that you can only turn on or off the preset options; you can’t add to these just like you can’t customise the ribbon. Another feature copied from Outlook 2010 is the conversation view for email.

A new functionality in WLE is Mesh, which lets you sync a folder on your computer with another computer running Mesh, or with a 5 GB space in Windows Skydrive. The functionality provided is pretty restricted, it is just one folder and everything in that folder. An interesting additional Mesh functionality is that it provides for remote access to your computers from another computer, presumably they all have to have the same Windows Live ID and password configured on them.

One annoying WLM feature was the modal dialog it would put up to say it was changing message flags. It would do this every time you clicked on a new message, doing this was very slow as was changing the message status from unread to read. This seems to be a lot faster in WLM2011 and doesn’t need that dialog box displayed.