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Microsoft Releases Host of 'Live' Betas

Microsoft Product Manager Nick White announced betas for Windows Live Messenger 8.5, Windows Live Mail, and Windows Live Writer.

Microsoft had a 'Live'ly Wednesday, releasing beta versions of three different Live products. Product Manager Nick White, on a Vista blog, announced the betas for Windows Live Messenger 8.5, Windows Live Mail, and Windows Live Writer.

Live Messenger 8.5 is probably the product that has changed least from previous versions. White said the beta "largely affects the back-end", but added that it will integrate with Windows Live OneCare Safety Center. Instant messaging programs have been increasingly targeted by virus and spam writers in recent years, so upgrading the safety of Messenger has likely been a priority within Microsoft.

Windows Live Mail is a new e-mail client that takes over from and improves on several other mail clients, namely Outlook Express, Windows Mail, and Windows Live Mail desktop.

Some of the top features, according to Program Manager Ellie Powers-Boyle, include close integration and functionality with Hotmail; access to Hotmail e-mail, folders, and contacts when offline; automatic syncing of changes made offline when a user reconnects to the Internet; and the ability to aggregate multiple Hotmail accounts at the same time in one view. Windows Live Mail also works with any other e-mail accounts, including POP3 and IMAP accounts.

And, in one note more ominous than comforting, White adds that "there will not be any graphical advertisements in Windows Live Mail at this time." He didn't address the possibility of future ads popping up in Live Mail.

Windows Live Writer is primarily a blogging tool. According to White, it works with, among other blog-publishing programs, Windows Live Spaces, WordPress, TypePad, Movable Type, LiveJournal and Blogger. The beta has features like inline spell checking, the ability to easily insert graphics, edit tables and add categories. Also included in the beta is an application programming interface (API) that allows customization by blog providers, and syncing of local and online edits.

A number of bloggers who cover the blog industry have reviewed Live Writer, and the consensus is that it works very well and is simple to use.

The betas can be found here:

- Windows Live Messenger 8.5

- Windows Live Mail

- Windows Live Writer

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.

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