Talking about the MSN Toolbar.
November 9, 2009 1 Comment
Although I usually use the Windows Live toolbar that comes with the Windows Live Essentials suite of programs when I use an toolbar, I have recently switched to using the new MSN Toolbar instead. In my view it supplies a far better integration with all the Live services than the Live toolbar does, is far more customisable and looks very attractive into the bargain. I have used this toolbar before when it was in beta but at that time the Windows Live services were not as fully incorporated into it as they are now.
Once you have downloaded the MSN Toolbar from http://toolbar.msn.com/ you can then begin to customize it for your own use. First of all you will need to sign in on the right hand side of the toolbar with your Live ID. Then moving on to the next icon on the left which is a small spanner (Toolbar Options) you can set up just how you would like your toolbar to look. There is a wide choice of colours to choose from, a choice of scenes which include the seasons and some seasonal events such as Christmas, Valentines Day, New Year, Autumn and Winter etc. In the Quality choice you can also choose to give feedback to Microsoft or not and find our more information about the MSN Toolbar such as the current version that you are using under About.
Clicking on the Cogwheel icon (Customise your buttons) allows you to choose which ‘news’ buttons you wish to have on your toolbar by dragging each button from the provided list to the toolbar or dragging from the toolbar to the list if you wish to remove a button. from those already provided by default. To enable the five day weather feature for your area, you simply click on the weather icon and then insert your location into the Options. You can choose to display this as Fahrenheit or Centigrade.
When you click on each news button, you are shown a list of news in a drop down list, and can then choose which news ‘headline’ you wish to read about by simply clicking on Read More. At the far left of the toolbar is the Bing search box and to the left of that, the MSN butterfly which when clicked will take you to the MSN home page.
So I hear you ask, where is all the Windows Live integration that you mentioned at the beginning of this post? Well the MSN Toolbar has a trick up its sleeve! See that up arrow button in between the ‘spanner’ icon and the ‘cogwheel’ icon? Click on that ‘Flip’ arrow and viola! There are all the Windows Live buttons! Click on Windows Live to be taken straight to your Windows Live homepage! Click on the Hotmail tab to see all of your Hotmail emails and also write a new email as well. . Click on Email this page to send the entire page in an email message or perhaps you would prefer to send it via Instant message instead? If so, click on the next button on IM this Page. However, the best part of this toolbar in my estimation is to be found when you click on the last button in this list, the More services button.
Clicking on More Services displays a list of ALL the live services including Photo Gallery, Spaces, SkyDrive, Profile, Photos, Mobile, Groups, Events, Calendar, Family Safety, Writer, Movie Maker and Mail. You are also shown exactly where each service is available from. In the case of Spaces for example, you are shown that you can access your Space from both online and also your mobile. You can also see which other applications work well with that particular program or service. So in the case of Spaces you are told it works well with Writer, Events and Mobile.
By clicking on the bottom of each one you can then go directly to that service as long as it is online. It all works quite well with the online services such as Profile, Calendar, SkyDrive, Photos Groups and Mobile, but Spaces does not take you directly to your Spaces page, instead it takes you to your Spaces home page. All of the included Live Essentials Suite of programs such as Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Writer and Live Mail take you to their relevant download pages.
In summary, I liked the MSN Toolbar when i was testing it out whilst it was in beta, it really looks attractive, and its news tabs contain some very useful buttons. Because the user is able to fully configure it to suit them it becomes far more useful than many of its rivals. But for me, its the integration with all of the Live services that I find the most useful, and I could argue that this has now become the definitive toolbar to use if you also make use of Windows Live and its services. . This is what the Live Toolbar could and should have been.