Microsoft has just released Windows Essentials 2012 (formerly Windows Live Essentials) that includes updated versions of Windows Movie Maker and Photo Gallery, along with the new SkyDrive app for Windows 7 and Windows 8. Other applications included in the Essentials Pack are Mail, Family Safety, and Windows Live Writer. Microsoft has understandably decided to drop a few applications from the 2012 edition such as Bing Bar and Messenger Companion. But the major disappointment comes from the fact that after installing Windows Essentials 2012 you can no longer use Live Mesh.
Microsoft had already announced that Live Mesh will be superseded by SkyDrive which Microsoft will be pushing to all customers of Windows 8 via the deeply integrated cloud service. But there were no plans to discontinue the Live Mesh service. As of now, Microsoft runs two independent file synchronization service - Live Mesh and SkyDrive. Both has its uses and benefits, but Live Mesh is technically the superior service between the two. What’s surprising is that updating Windows Live Essentials 2011 with Windows Essentials 2012 automatically uninstalls Live Mesh from the computer.
Users who want to continue using Live Mesh are instructed by Microsoft to not install Windows Essentials 2012. At this point, the future of Live Mesh is unsure and it doesn't look good.
Coming back to Windows Essentials 2012, the new Windows Movie Maker and Photo Gallery boasts of several new features.
What’s New in Windows Movie Maker
- Video Stabilization: Movie Maker takes advantage of new technology in Windows 8 to smooth out your wobbly videos. Just select the shaky video and choose from a variety Video stabilization options and Movie Maker will smooth it out. This feature is unavailable on Windows 7.
- Music: Download creative commons music from variety of online sources such as AudioMicro, Free Music Archive and the Vimeo Music Store integrated with Windows Movie Maker.
- Voice Narration: If you want to narrate your movie, Movie Maker has added a third audio track for narration. When you want to add narration to your video, just select the video with narration and the program will automatically strip out the audio and replace it with your narration track.
- Waveform visualizations: The added waveform visualizations to both the music track and videos enable you to quickly see where you need to cut or trim your video to match your music.
- Text Effects: Ability to enhance the text by placing an outline around your text.
- H.264 by default: Movie Maker saves to this format by default making it easier to publish your video to popular sharing websites without re-encoding.
What’s New in Photo Gallery
- Auto Collage: Includes a new Auto Collage feature Photo Gallery where you just select seven or more photos and the program arranges them in a collage for you. See comparison auto-collage making software.
- Publish to Vimeo: Upload and share your videos straight to Vimeo from both Photo Gallery and Movie Maker.