The Windows Live Essentials programs are exactly what they claim to be: essential for any Windows user. So it’s good news that the Windows Live team has released a final beta (essentially a release candidate) today. The new package includes services (such as Favorites Sync) that have not previously been publicly available. The LiveSide gang has a nice roundup of what’s new.
Before I give you the address where you can download the code, though, I have to tweak my friend and colleague Paul Thurrott, who wrote today:
Don’t be confused by other sites: This is not a beta release. What you’re seeing is the near-final version of virtually every Windows Live Essentials application and service being released today.
Yes, do not be confused by those other sites. Like, you know, the blog written by the Windows Live team, which actually wrote this code and is coordinating this release. This is still a beta, judging by their post today (I’ve added bold for emphasis).
We’re getting very close to the final release. But before we get there, we’re refreshing the beta versions one more time to make sure we’ve ironed out all the kinks. You can get the latest betas from: http://download.live.com/.
We’re working hard to get the final versions ready to go as soon as possible. So let us know what you like and don’t like, and if you’re running into any issues that we need to take care of before we take the “beta” tags off.
Paul’s point, once you sweep aside the hyperbole, is that these are feature-complete, stable programs, and you shouldn’t let the “beta” label scare you off. I’ve been using them for months and think these are wonderful programs, across the board. Hey, I even like and use the Windows Live toolbar, and I normally hate browser toolbars.