There are many bloggers/journalists actively discussing Windows Live publishing out several new free tools this month. So what? Well these tools will be available through WSUS which many schools already have in place, so deployment is very low-cost. There is also a big "so what" across what the applications have to offer.
These tools are interesting to education, especially in labs where a teaching exercise may include collaboration, digital media, how to check Email, and/or blogging. This may also be of interest for pre-loading student 1-1 laptops with free tools including Live Family Safety for parents to apply filters and create a safer browsing environment, in addition to the Vista parental controls.
So what would you get? I've taken a recent post from the Microsoft Update team and retro-fit their bullets below.
Windows Live Messenger - Instant messaging client which includes integration with Xbox Live, Yahoo, PC-to-PC webcam calls, sending Text Messages, and File Sharing.
Windows Live Photo Gallery - Tool for editing photos and organizing and sharing photos and videos. This program expands and improves on features available in Windows Photo Gallery (part of Windows Vista), and works on either Windows XP or Windows Vista.
Windows Live Mail - Free tool for checking Hotmail and other Email accounts, as well as Newsgroups and RSS.
Windows Live Writer - The tool I use nearly every day for posting to this site. You can automatically import the style from your blog so the environment where you write looks/feels as it will appear online. It is also great at managing your drafts, old posts, and has an online gallery of plug-ins for integrating with other applications. Works great with popular blog platforms including Live Spaces which students can use at no cost.
Windows Live Family Safety - Adapts your computer so parents have even more control than what's offered in the Vista parental controls, and adds parental control to XP. With Family Safety you can set rules on what web sites your kids are allowed to access, who they can chat with in Live Messenger, and who they can add as friends to their blog in Live Spaces.
Windows Live Sign-in Assistant - Installs in the background so you can take advantage of single sign-on across all the tools without always being prompted for a username and password.
Windows Live Toolbar - Installs a toolbar within Internet Explorer to add search functionality for websites and your desktop, search online maps and directions, weather, photos, and helps alert you to online phishing scams as you browse. Works with IE6, XP, and with Vista.
There are more where this came from. Check ideas.live.com for other interesting tools. Did you know you could share your desktop with someone for remote collaboration or support, for free? Did you know students can store their files online for free? There are a plethora of tools available and more coming that together can empower classrooms even though they are offered at no cost and support a very low cost of deployment.