A beta version of the next version of the Windows Live suite, the start of the so-called "Wave 3" Windows Live release, has leaked to the Web. The downloadable suite of applications shows advancements across the board and gives credence to rumors that Microsoft will continue debundling applications from its core Windows OS.
The new suite includes several major components, all of which are updated or new to this release. They are:
Windows Live Mail - New version features integration with Windows Live Calendar.
Windows Live Photo Gallery - New version includes facial recognition features, links to third party photo services, and a "Black and white effects" auto-fix.
Windows Live Writer - New version of blogging application adds easier video embedding and other features.
Windows Live Toolbar - New version adds a Search Enhancement Pack, Wave 3 look and feel.
Windows Live Movie Maker - Will replace the Movie Maker application in Windows and be oriented towards posting Web videos to YouTube, MSN Soapbox, and other related services.
Windows Live Family Safety - Updated version of Microsoft's Internet safety application for families.
Microsoft Office Outlook Connector - New version of Microsoft's Windows Live integration piece for Outlook. This is the first time Microsoft has bundled the Connector with Windows Live suite.
In addition to updating the individual applications in the suite, Microsoft has also standardized the UI of the applications using a common Wave 3 look and feel. This look and feel includes button-less toolbars that utilize menu-like text links instead of graphics, though it's unclear if this is the final UI.
There's more coming, according to WithinWindows' Rafael Rivera, who unearthed references to Windows Live Sync and Office Live in the Wave 3 installer files. It's unclear what Windows Live Sync refers to at this point, but it could be a rebranded version of Windows Live FolderShare. Also, Microsoft will presumably be updating its Windows Live Web-based services at some point as well. There's no hint of that online as of yet.
Since this release hasn't been officially announced yet, it's possible the download links could be removed by the time you read this. For now, you can download Windows Live Wave 3 Beta from the Microsoft Web site.