Microsoft released Windows Essentials 2012 suite today, which provides updates across the board to the previous Windows Live Essentials 2011 applications. An interesting thing to note is that Microsoft is dropping the ‘Live’ branding from this release of Windows Essentials. Lately Microsoft has been very aggressive at trying to re-brand itself. First they re-branded Hotmail.com to Outlook.com and now they’re dropping ‘Live’ from Windows Essentials. Strangely, the individual apps included in Windows Essentials 2012 still retain the ‘Live’ nomenclature.
This update is huge, clocking in at 131 MB. Not surprisingly, this package includes a ton of apps including Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, SkyDrive, and Writer. Windows Movie Maker and Photo Gallery received the most substantial updates with Windows 8 optimization. Let’s delve a bit deeper and see what’s changed.
As mentioned above, Windows Movie Maker received quite a few updates from its 2011 version. The most interesting new feature is video stabilization. Many cameras do not have hardware or software video stabilization so footage often looks choppy. Check out the video below to see Windows Movie Maker’s impressive video stabilization in action.
Windows Movie Maker 2012 also introduces hardware acceleration to speed up video encoding and overall performance. Audio is also handled much better in this new version. There is a waveform overlaid the video timeline to provide a more visual representation on what the audio is doing in each clip. Users can also search the Free Music Archive and Vimeo Music Store for tracks to use in videos.
Photo Gallery received a complete overhaul with tons of social network integration for easy sharing. You can share to Facebook, Flickr, Vimeo, Youtube, and more from within the application. Microsoft also included facial recognition in Photo Gallery to tag people, which syncs with Facebook.
There is also a slick slideshow and ‘auto collage‘ feature to make your photos look professional with minimal work. Slideshows have several transitions to choose between and you can even export photos do Movie Maker to create a video with. Auto collage combines multiple pictures into one fluid looking collage. Of course everything integrates with Microsoft’s SkyDrive for syncing between machines and the cloud.
For a more in depth look, check out my review of Windows Essentials 2012.