Thursday, February 02, 2006

Windows "Live" review

So finally mez got some time to write this. Microsoft is going into internet services in a big way with their windows "live" platform. Very recently they've released beta of lot of their live services incl. Mail, messenger et al. I'll review each one of those one-by-one.

1. Windows Live Mail: Well, its interface looks really cool with all those drag n drop, *almost* outlook like looks, 2 gigs space (yes, finally they r on level terms with Y!, and GMail on mail space). But, the downside (atleast 4 now) is that it only works on IE6, surely not firefox, but surprisingly not even on IE7 beta 2, which are the only 2 browsers i have @ my office pc. So i haven't been able to use it much. But, on first looks it has a really easy to use interface. Just hoping that FF & IE 7 support comes soon enough, and so does the horizontal preview pane. Surprise is that on FF an error message comes "Firefox support coming soon", but on IE7 beta2 its a clear page :). Overall, its a great step forward in terms of mail interface. I wonder when is the so much talked about Yahoo ! Mail beta is coming, which was also supposed to have the similar outlook like interface, surely MS has beaten Y! on that with this live mail.

2. Windows Live Messenger: The main look and feel of WLM 8.0 remains quite similar to the good ol' msn messenger, but it has few new features. To me, the best features added are the offline messages and invisible mode. Finally, yes after a long-2 wait i am able to send offline messages on WLM/MSN ! It seems, MS ppl have finally realised that *SOMETIMES* ppl do get *Offline* and few people might need to send them some message (not email) even on those times. Also the invisible login mode is a good addon, ofcourse its not as configurable as yahoo's stealth settings is, which even lets u configure specific modes for *specific people*.

WLM's interface is *quite* easy to use, though to some ppl it is way too colorful. MSN has always been pretty good in things like custom emoticons n all. Voice quality on WLM was quite good and without any jitters or delay, though there was an echo, that might be 'coz of some loose wire or something, will have to check out on that again. Newer services like Music Mix n all hardly worked for me, i guess 'coz these are currently not available in india :(. Overall WLM is surely a quite good upgrade to MSN 7.5.

It surely is the most feature rich IM out there. Though i believe if it had been a tad simpler in looks, it might have been even better, just like Gtalk. It actually has nothing, just like most Google things its main advantage lies in simplicity. I hope it becomes a tad simpler in looks, and yes one more thing i don't like about WLM is that you just can't display the display pic of only one person, either u display of all or none, there should be something in between :)

3. Windows Live Bookmarks: Well, no comments about this one. This simply allows you to store your bookmarks on the internet publicly, its a direct *inspiration* from del.icio.us.

4. Windows Live Contacts: This seems pretty exciting, it's bit more than the normal address book/ contact list. It will notify the person who has subscribed to ur contact info of any change u make in ur contact info. Seems pretty good, u no longer need to notify all the people about change in ur address/contact no et al manually. But, ofcourse u will have to make them subscribe to ur contact :)

5. Windows Live "live.com": This again is a straight *inspiration* from Google's personalized homepage. But it still has lots of problems, and is rightly labelled as "beta", in general there are lots of "Ooops !!", quite often the feeds don't work, though its getting better from the time i started using. Now it also shows inline images on the blogs, which looks gud. Another problem with the live.com is that sometimes it doesn't remember the placement of my feeds correctly ! It also doesn't work on IE7 beta 2. Still its a pretty good site and is my homepage :)

Ok, this is not in the "live" platform, but is the medium which most people will be using to access this, yes its IE7 beta 2

6. Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta 2: First of all, if i had to name this release then i would have named it IE 7.0 PRE-ALPHA !! Its such a buggy beta 2 that i can't imagine how would the alpha and beta 1 would have been :o ? Most of the sites i have visited works incorrectly in it, including microsoft's own - live mail, live.com, even yahoo mail looks strange most of the times in it, and for any site that it works for, it shows a strange character at the end of the line, i guess that's the "newline" character, but wth ? They have added UDN support in IE7 but i dont think that should have any effect on the text of the page ? or should it ? anyhow till now i haven't found any setting from where i can get rid of those special newline characters being displayed, will keep finding :). Even the resized popup windows are not displayed correctly, most of the content of resized popups is missing.

Now to some good things - It has a far better look then the traditional IE, the menu bar is gone, tabbed-browsing is there, RSS integration is there, session saver is there. The best thing for me is that most used features have a 1-2 click access, including RSS feed subscription, add to favorites, change homepage n all. Another good thing seems that one can have multiple home pages, though when i set more than one homepage, the IE crashed ! maybe that was because i had set google.com as one of the homepages :). One more good feature is the "zoom" thing, it has been missing for long, and this again has 1-click access ! It seems relatively more secure in the sense that by default it disables all activex plugins, and warns user about it. And most important thing it sucks far lesser memory than FF, but it seems IE too has memory leaks. Once i left both FF and IE open for about 2-3 days and i saw that IE is taking around 190MB memory while FF was taking around 250MB memory. So both eat memory big way, but for IE unlike FF, it surely wasn't noticeable in 3-4 hrs of usage. Another good thing, is that IE7 shows ClearType Font. After installing IE7 fonts of even the Outlook changes and it surely looks more smooth and clear.

To me it is surely more feature rich and easy to use than the vanilla Firefox (without installing all those fancy extensions), so to lot of users IE 7.0 will be a better alternative than Firefox. Ofcourse for nerds and geeks FF will remain the better browser because of the numerous extensions available. Which i guess IE can hardly catch. All this para ofcourse assumes that all the major bugs i listed above will be solved in the main IE 7.0 release :)


Just to sum it up, we users are surely in for some good times as we are getting better and better services for free :). A hearty thanks to Google for that.

I guess its more than enough, n btw mez pretty happy that i have wrote quite a part of this post on my cell-phone :)

3 comments:

Bhagya said...

IT better be soon :D

Halloz Konark
Hey that link u left on my blog was good read yaar. mazaa aaya.

Bhagya said...

Hey I made a comment on your previous post. pls pls pls read it.

Kon ?? said...

@bhagya..
ya ya i read that comment..don't worry i read all the comments as i get them on mail too :)
actually i was out of station so for a change i wasn't online for quite a few days :)