New features in Photo Gallery include Photo Fuse to combine the best parts of multiple shots (eg, to work around the problem of people blinking in group portraits), and easy retouching. Photo Gallery also incorporates face recognition to help find and organise photos, and integration with Flickr, Facebook and SkyDrive.
Movie Maker is positioned as an easy to use video editor that can also turn a set of photos from Photo Gallery into a movie. The results can be sent to YouTube, FaceBook or SkyDrive, burned to DVD (requires Windows DVD Maker), or saved in formats suitable for a variety of devices.
"With Photo Gallery and Movie Maker, we focused on making advanced features easy for anybody," said Jamie Cannon, Microsoft's group product manager for Windows Live.
Messenger now features HD video chat, tabbed chat for multiple conversations, and Facebook chat. It also brings in messages and newsfeeds from sites such as Facebook and MySpace, and displays Facebook photo galleries and YouTube videos mentioned in messages.
"We didn't want to create another social network," said Cannon. "We really designed Messenger to help you stay in touch with the people that matter to you most, wherever they already are."
More Live Essentials components are described on page 2.