Windows 7 and Windows 8 users are able to download and install the recently released Windows Essentials 2012. Most notably, Windows Movie Maker and Photo Gallery have received new features in this update from Windows Live Essentials 2011. It also includes Mail, Outlook Connector Pack for Hotmail, Writer, SkyDrive access, and a Family Safety program. Besides dropping the ‘Live’ title from the name, Windows Essentials 2012 will be able to take advantage of greater hardware accelerated graphics in Windows 8.
Windows Movie Maker has received a few new features that will greatly improve the quality of videos processed through it.
- Video Stablization: allows anti-shake and wobble correction
- Music: access to licensed music with the correct rights
- Audio: waveform tracks can show the audio level in sync with the video frames; a third audio track is available for narration; easy tools for emphasizing one track over the others
- Text effects: text can be outlined to help it stand out
- H.264: Movie Maker saves to this encoding by default to better work with other web services and devices
Windows Photo Gallery continues to expand on its fun features like Photo Fuse and Panorama.
- Auto Collage: choose 7 or more photos and a collage will be automatically created
- Vimeo: You can now publish directly to Vimeo with the click of a button under the share gallery
If you have Windows Live Mesh from Windows Live Essentials 2011, installing Windows Essentials 2012 will uninstall Live Mesh and replace it with SkyDrive. You cannot have both Live Mesh and Windows Essentials 2012 installed on the same PC. You can see the differences between each application in this article.
While the new features announced in this version of Windows Essentials 2012 sound great, it fails to admit that some like audio narration in Movie Maker existed in the XP version of the software but was taken out in subsequent versions. It made for a real hassle when trying to dub videos. It’s good to see that it has been added back. Last year while editing a number of videos I bought Corel VideoStudio when it was on sale because these features were missing.