Now I know that I’m usually critiquing Microsoft products/services, but today, I’ll tell you what I like about one of their stuff.
Windows Live Toolbar works great for me. I use it for search, a quick button access to another site, and other little things.
Now I know not everybody is a fan of Live Search. Maybe other Windows Live stuff, but not search. Well that’s your opinion. I just like Live Search for the clean looks, speed, Instant Answers, and other little things. Relevancy seems just as great as Google’s. The toolbar does search real great. It’s easy to access right off the browser.
The search toolbar also does, (with a little arrow on the side to extend these options) news, images, local, feeds, inline site search, movie, music, yellow pages, tons of stuff. You can even download buttons from Windows Live Gallery to extend more search options. You can search on these buttons if you want to take a look at these sites. I have a Flickr, Xbox, MSNBC, and Live Gallery search extenders. They are highlighted in green if you enter text in the search box, so you can search by them.
The search box also has a drop-down menu that lists some of the most common searches associated to the text you’re typing. It’s pulls up the most common searches instantly as you enter text. It also saves your last searches at the bottom, so they’re easy to access too. You can erase/clear them if you want.
I have other neat buttons too. I have a Gizmodo and Engadget button, that checks the latest news hourly, and displays them with a drop down arrow list. For my tech news. You can also press the button too (like all the other buttons) and get instant access directly to the site. There’s also an MSN button, which I just check for some interesting content sometimes.
I also have a pop-up blocker with the toolbar. There’s already one built-in into IE7, but it really makes this annoying sound when there’s one. I like how the Windows Live Pop-Up blocker, show up at the top of the page, and notifies you if there’s one. And if you click on it, there’s an option to allow it this one time, allow them for this site, or reset the pop-up counter. Pretty useful compared to annoying clicking sounds from the one in IE7. It works great for the most part. I love it. The one in IE7 should work the same way, instead of the way it does now. It also displayes a counter, telling how many pop-ups have tried to get in.
There’s a Windows Live Hotmail button. Pressing the button takes you directly there. There’s a counter in parenthesis telling you how many new e-mails are in your inbox. Like (5) means 5 new e-mails.
The Spaces buttong is useless. I hate how it opens up a whole other browser, then change the page I’m on.
My last two buttons are Toolbar Options, and Toolbar Help.
Live Toolbar also does browser tabs in IE6. If you have IE6 and are looking for tabs, Live Toolbar does a pretty god job with it. But if you can’t even get IE7, then you have better luck with full functionality in Firefox.
There’s also one other neat thing about Live Toolbar – Text Highlight options.
When you highlight anything, there are two little buttons that come up right next to it. From these 2 buttons, you can pretty much search or do anything. Like if you highlight an address – you can use one of the button options to see it in a Windows Live Maps. And the maps appear in a small box onscreen! No linking to another page or anything, it just appears. Of highligh a phone number, and it comes with an option to give that number a call on your computer. Or highlight a pieces of text and search it on Live Search, or Yellow Pages. Little things like that. Really neat and useful.
For the most part, I love Windows Live Toolbar. It’s so helpful and great to use. There a few things I wish though:
- Support for Firefox (or other browsers) – It would be wonderful if everybody had a chance to use it. So make one support Firefox, and maybe even Opera, and Safari. It only does IE6 and IE7 right now. Be more open, and deliver it to all browsers.
- More official Microsoft buttons – It’s great the Live Toolbar is open for many developers to customize and make and stuff, but sometimes it just doesn’t work. Developers are always trying to make great stuff, and they sometimes do. But how about some official buttons from Microsoft? Instead of depending on other developers to do so? Because sometimes, they’re are really crappy buttons made by developers. And they really stink. It also doesn’t help that Microsoft doesn’t make offical great working ones either. So how about making better/nicer buttons for users?
Well that’s about it really. Make one availiable for FireFox and other users, and make more better offical buttons for users. That’s really what I’m hoping for. If Microsoft could do that, that would be wonderful. If you use IE6 or IE7, I really suggest you give Live Toolbar a try.