Johannesburg, South Africa - 30 September, 2010 - Microsoft's aggressive push into the consumer market has been given a further boost with the official launch of Windows Live Essentials 2011 -- a free suite of programs for photos, movies, instant messaging, e mail, blogging and family safety.
Live Essentials 2011 is the latest chapter in a veritable wave of consumer-facing software from Microsoft, which includes its Windows 7 operating system, the Office 2010 productivity suite, the Internet Explorer 9 browser, its Bing search engine, the upcoming Windows Phone 7 and Kinect, a gaming system controlled solely by gestures and voice commands.
Speaking at the launch in Johannesburg today, Darren Huston, the global vice-president of Microsoft's consumer and online business, said today's marketplace was being shaped by the consumer.
"Consumers have assumed control and they want to connect to more of what they love anytime, anywhere, on any device," said Huston. "At Microsoft, we're listening closely to understand consumer needs and their expectations for technology that is personal, relevant, and social."
Windows Live Essentials was designed specifically to take full of Windows 7. It includes Windows Live Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Messenger, Mail, Family Safety and Writer. New to this release is Windows Live Mesh, which allows users to automatically synch various devices across the internet.
At the launch, Huston sketched a vivid vision of a technology world in which consumers want experiences across all of their screens to be seamlessly connected, relevant to them and easy to navigate.
"They don't want to think about technology, they want it to ‘just work', no matter the time or place. But ease of use is not enough. Today, technology has to be more personal, more relevant and more social," said Huston.
One of the main things people do on their PCs is communicating and sharing with the people in their lives. The new Windows Live Messenger now connects users to Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and hundreds of other sites. Windows Live Photo Gallery and Movie Maker work seamlessly with Facebook, Flickr, YouTube and other popular photo/video sharing sites, while Windows Live Mail connects easily with Gmail, Yahoo! Mail and other popular email services.
Another highlight of the new suite is its ability to organise, create and share photos and movies. With Photo Fuse, users take multiple photos of the same subject and then combine the best parts into one perfect photo. With Windows Live Movie Maker, users take their favourite photos and easily turn them into movies to share with family and friends, complete with transitions, titles and captions.
Organising photos is even easier with facial recognition: once people are tagged, the program automatically searches the entire photo library for their faces. The launch also saw sneak previews of Windows Phone 7 and a prototype of a Windows-powered slate device, which the company hopes to bring to market in 2011.
From mid-2011, Windows Live Essentials will also be available in five indigenous languages in South Africa: Tswana, Sotho, Zulu, Xhosa and Afrikaans.
"The way people organise, connect and share with each other is changing," said Huston. "We designed the new Essentials to connect you and all you that's important to you across your multiple PCs and devices, including the services you use every day so you can get more done with your photos, movies and friends."