It is a week of beta refreshes from Microsoft. 

Earlier this week it was the update for Windows Home Server Vail and now it is the long expected refresh of the Windows Live Essentials 2011 beta.

This Windows Live Essentials refresh brings the following enhancements according to Microsoft:

  • A quicker Messenger – The time it takes to sign in, and to refresh contacts and social feeds, as well as animation speed, are all faster than in previous versions of Messenger.
  • More efficient video chat – Messenger video chat uses 30% fewer CPU resources by offloading work to the GPU.
  • Better facial recognition – Photo Gallery facial recognition is improved significantly and works more quickly.
  • Larger movie uploads – Movie Maker will upload higher resolution movies to SkyDrive (480×640 vs. the previous 320×480).
  • Higher bit-rate movies – Movie Maker now supports higher quality (bit-rate) content.
  • Better spell-checking – Writer has significantly improved the quality of its spell-checking.
  • Better integration with Office – Writer is much better at retaining all formatting when you copy and paste from Word and other Microsoft Office programs.
  • Better handling of Gmail – Mail now automatically handles Gmail’s spam and trash folders properly.
  • Faster web filtering – Family Safety web filtering is 35% faster than in the previous version.
  • Facebook chat in Messenger – You can now connect with your Facebook friends in Messenger.
  • Quick previews and improved tree view in Photo Gallery – Now easier sorting solutions to see your photos in the groups you want.
  • Flickr video publishing and Snapshot in Movie Maker – Publish movies directly from Movie Maker to flickr and take snapshots from any frame in a movie.

According to LiveSide there was some confusion about the proper build and when it was uploaded so if you want to make sure you have the latest version of the Windows Live Essential 2011 beta refresh check your build numbers against this list:

  • Movie Maker – 15.4.3002.0810
  • Messenger – 15.4.3002.0810
  • Mail – 15.4.3002.0810
  • Photo Gallery -15.4.3002.0810
  • Sync – 15.4.3001.0809
  • Family Safety – 15.4.3001.0809
  • Writer – 15.4.3001.0809

One step closer to the finished product.  I will take a couple of days to dig through this update and then provide my thoughts like I did for the first version of this beta.

Do you have any initial reaction to this refresh?  Let us know in the comments.