I have been using Windows Live Mail (which in what is still a little bit of a branding nightmare is the name for the desktop client to the Windows Live Hotmail service), Windows Live Writer, and Windows Live Photo Gallery for quite some time in their beta forms. I have been impressed as they have been solid over the beta period that I have used them.
I have been on the Windows Live Mail bandwagon for a while. I have moved several of my family members over as it is a light-weight client and with the RSS integration I now have my grandma reading my blog and others through RSS! I wish that Windows Live Calendar was integrated into it (there was minimal integration at some point in the product evolution).
I love Windows Live Photo Gallery. I was using Photoshop Elements for organizing, but no longer. Live Photo Gallery does that stuff so much easier and I can map multiple machines to a share on my home network and base the Photo Gallery store off that and have it work. Photoshop Elements would never load when I tried to do that. The Photostitch stuff is fantastic – I have to stop myself from always shooting panoramas! I love how easily they stitch together and create cool pictures (at least cool to me – any shortcomings in them is due more to me as a photographer than anything else). The basic editing in it does most of what I need (and probably most of what the everyday Joe does as well). I have Elements to shift into any really fancy editing if I really need to (which I rarely do).
Windows Live Writer is a great blogging tool – the add-on community is always introducing cool new things (the Live Spaces and Skydrive integration is cool and the Silverlight integration looks cool as well although I haven’t tried it personally yet!).
Windows Live Calendar looks very promising with the iCal integration – I’ll report back once I have had a chance to play with it some more.
I think the move to bring Live clients to the desktop to connect MS desktop properties (Vista especially) with the work being done on the web with the Live Services was brilliant and enriches the experience (Live Photo Gallery being a prime example – terrific move there MS). Frankly it is these innovations that get me excited where MS is headed with Windows Live. I have two key requests/complaints that I will detail in my next post – overall though Windows Live is taking shape nicely I think.