Windows Live is Still Alive!

Windows LIVE is Still Alive and Kicking!

Microsoft’s free movie-making app, aptly named Windows Movie Maker, has left the beta testing stage behind and is now ready to take on Apple’s ten-year old iMovie app. It offers an automatic movie creation feature (Apples iMovie doesn’t have this functionality), a simplified interface, rich editing capabilities, dozens of effects and transitions, and a wide range of sharing and publishing options.

Now a part of Microsoft’s free suite of digital lifestyle apps and online services (known as Windows Live Essentials), Windows Live Movie Maker is designed for U.S. consumers who watch user-generated videos online.

Taking clues from iMovie (part of Apple’s iLife suite of digital lifestyle apps), Windows Live Movie Maker allows you to edit and share videos via a simple interface that lets you easily create titles, captions, credits, and add music to your photos and videos. But Windows Live Movie Maker is much more than this.

Take AutoMovie, a cool feature created specifically for the YouTube generation. It automatically stitches together slideshow-styled movies out of your photos, videos, and music in “under a minute,” Microsoft said, stressing that the feature creates a movie in less time than it takes watching it. You can then tweak the resulting movie by adding more animations and visual effects.

Brian Hall of the Windows Live team didn’t shy away from stressing that Apple’s rival app lacks such a capability using Windows Live Movie Maker to automatically create a movie out of 50 photos, three video clips, and a music soundtrack in just 30 seconds using the AutoMovie feature in Windows Live Movie Maker. Apple’s  iMovie doesn’t have a feature for combining photos, videos and music in one automatic step. Check out my link to the YouTube video at the end of this article.

Rich edits are also possible, thanks to more than 60 transitions, 18 pan/zoom options, and 20 visual effects, in addition to video trim, split, and fade capabilities. Depending on your computer hardware, you can auto-preview transitions like cross-fade, dissolve, pixelate, and shatter by hovering over the effect and watching it in real time.

You can publish your videos to YouTube or Facebook, save them in high definition (or a smaller format), transfer to a mobile device, burn on a DVD, or email to a friend. The open architecture allows you to add more third-party sharing services. Here’s a link to some of the plug-ins available: http://blogs.msdn.com/pix/pages/Plug_2D00_ins.aspx

Windows XP users are left out in the cold with this freebie. Because the program takes advantage of the underlying Windows 7/Vista capabilities, the app doesn’t work on Windows XP and prior versions, but the older 2.1 version for XP is still available. Windows 7/Vista provide the support for a broad range of HD devices and file formats, including the popular Flip recorder, Apple’s QuickTime, AVCHD, and MPEG4. Microsoft claims that a new graphics driver model used in Vista and Windows 7 enables “more reliable and stable support for high-end graphics,” adding that a new engine on top of DirectX improves the speed and enables even more advanced capabilities over time.

You can download Windows Movie Maker as part of the Windows Live Essentials here: http://download.live.com/  You’ll first need to download a tiny installer to pick individual apps from the Windows Live Essentials suite. The installer will then download the latest versions and install them for you.

Not convinced Windows Movie Maker is really this easy. Here’s a quick YouTube video showing just how simple it is. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94lYVLPBXpg

Windows Live site: http://download.live.com

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