Based on the first looks of WLMM, I’m just not liking the direction it’s heading so far. Even though it’s a beta (though it should be an alpha), and it’s really something different, I think the current version is just cruddy and shouldn’t have been released. Period.
There’s only a few positive things I like about it, more on the concept of WLMM actually, rather than it’s current condition:
1) Microsoft’s will give WMM a big update, and now it’ll be constantly updated – Even though the simple apps built into Windows Vista are nice, they never get updated. Not unless a security issue arises, then Microsoft won’t do a thing to give updates to it, until either the next service pack or the next OS release. Also, hopefully as the beta continues, more new features will show up that weren’t previously in WMM before, or at least features got enhancements.
2) The ribbon/fluent interface – I love how it’s applied in Office 2007, and can’t wait to see how Microsoft implements the ribbon interface into other apps. Though I agree with some people that the Ribbon interface isn’t applicable for every application (only for things that require a lot of commands), that doesn’t mean it’s unusable elsewhere.
However, after reading the team blog, I’m not happy about how the team is going about WLMM so far. Here’s what I really wish the WLMM team could do by final release:
1) Fix up the Ribbon interface – Add an Insert tab to insert items (instead of the Home tab), contextual menus for quick picture editing, text formatting (in titles, descriptions, etc.), . Bring back the original Orb button and dynamic zoom bar, have ScreenTips, Keytips, Live Preview and Mini Toolbar working, and give the player more WMP-like controls (such as stop, FFW, RW, volume, fullscreen etc.).
2) Add more features – I would love for more types of fancy graphical effects, more transition and background styles, larger font library, real video enhancements (contrast, brightness, exposure, saturation, etc.), real color and audio controls per specified clips, among other things to get the best experience out of it. Also, a better way to view parts of a video instead of ugly fragmented clips, a better voiceover feature, and overall think of it like this : I want as much iMovie-like functionality that Microsoft can give for free. Maybe even more.
3) Search box! – A search box is desperately needed. You know, a dynamic search box to quickly find projects, video files, and all sort instantly as you type.
4) Timeline/Storyboard – I’ll reiterate this again : There needs to be a timeline or storyboard to easily puts items into a sequence. They just need to revamp the timeline so that it’s more easier to smoothly insert something between two clips (graphically plopping a clip right in), offer an enhanced view of the strip (dynamic zoom?), easily establish audio and color control over portions of the clips you choose, hover over sections of the video and see a live video thumbnail play, more WMP-like controls for the video player, a ‘filmstrip’ view of seeing thumbnails in a clip rather than one thumbnail, among other things to help make it more easier to work with the timeline instead of killing it altogether. Also, the ability to have a show/hide button extended on the pane would make it much easier to deal with. I like having the idea of the Timeline/Storyboard in a separate, than tabs on the ribbon.
5) More file support – I’m tired of everything you export when you’re finished is in WMV. WLMM is sort of working on this, I guess. Put more file support (MP4, MOV, etc.) for working with and exporting would be great.
6) XP SP2/SP3 support – Even though XP is going to have less support from Microsoft as we head into the future, I just think it’d be really nice to give XP SP2/SP3 users at least the final version of WLMM. Then drop support completely for upcoming versions of WLMM.
Well that’s pretty much the tip of the iceberg there. So here’s my formula on how MS should make Windows Live Movie Maker : Lots of great functionality + Great (Ribbon) interface + FREE = A wonderful product that people will rave and talk about, and download and use.
That’s the most I could hope for in a free video editor, or almost any product that utilizes this formula. Give people more power for free Microsoft. That’s what people want.