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Microsoft's Windows Live Movie Maker: For Once, a Decent Sequel

Today's column says some nice things about Microsoft's new Windows Live Movie Maker, a successor to the company's once-unimpressive video-editing software. It's easy enough to get started in; it provides a good toolkit to organize and dress up photo slideshows and home movies; and most important of all, it offers a good choice of output options, including direct uploads to YouTube. I think Microsoft has learned a thing or two from its past misadventures in this category and deserves a little credit here.

Windows Live Movie Maker.JPG

What I can't be so sure about this program -- a free download for Window Vista and 7, but not XP -- is whether people will spend any serious time discovering Movie Maker's editing features.

The unpleasant reality of home movie-making is that even with fast, easy software, it takes an inordinate amount of time. A lot of users can't be bothered to make that investment, and so developers have had to adjust their expectations. Instead of shipping software built for the dedicated home videographer -- the person who shoots hours of footage on a camcorder and wants to assemble it into an hour-long production before burning it to a DVD -- the typical video-editing application these days assumes that the user just wants to clean up a five or 10-minute clip, add a title and throw it on the Web. Or the user may not even feed any video into the software, instead turning a batch of still photos into an animated slideshow.

Apple's iMovie reflected this shift when Apple rewrote it as part of its iLife '08 multimedia suite, doing away with many of the old version's features while adding simple YouTube upload options (though this year's edition restored some of those old capabilities).

But the success of Pure Digital's Flip camcorders (and similar models from such vendors as Kodak), with their built-in software that does little more than let you crop your clips and throw them on the Web, provides an even more dramatic demonstration of this shift in home movie-making.

Do you agree with this trend, are you worried that home movie-making has been dumbed down -- or have you yet to do any video editing at all on a computer? Share your thoughts in the comments...

By Rob Pegoraro  |  August 28, 2009; 12:01 PM ET
Categories:  Video , Windows  
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Comments

I still use Movie Maker to import DV tapes and convert them into avi. It's the most reliable (ie works more than 70% of the time) way on XP.

I use TMPGEnc Authoring Works for actually editing, adding menus and burning. It's the only one that has an intuitive way to create menus (and automatically based on the clips used). Plus it doesn't crash that often, always a bonus.

Posted by: Hemisphire | August 28, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

Too bad its not a free download for XP.

The more anyone invest TIME in learning a software product, the more likely they will continue to rely on that product in future releases, i.e., if I found this product truly useful, even though I am unlikely to upgrade to Vista, I presume Windows 7 will use it at some point, which would be an additional incentive to stay with Microsoft without considering Apple as an alternative.

Yesterday, I had to use the George Washington Law Library for some legal research and while there, I asked two students with laptops whether they preferred Microsoft or Apple. Their answer surprised me, namely, apparently Apple doesn't work well with the University's system, so they were on Microsoft based laptops.

Posted by: brucerealtor@gmail.com | August 28, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

I've worked with Microsoft's Windows Movie Maker for 8 years, since it was first introduced as a basic video editing 'starter app' in Windows Millennium. I tend to agree with your observations.

I consider all versions up to the new Windows Live Movie Maker as 'classic' versions... made to work best with DV (digital video) from a mini-DV camcorder. Even with an interest in learning video editing, the file conversions needed to get most disc, hard drive and flash drive based camcorder video files into Movie Maker 'classic' versions has been too daunting to most.

Windows Live Movie Maker is the first version to handle a slew of different video file types without needing to do file conversions first.

I teach Movie Maker. Two of my usual opening questions are 'have you heard of Movie Maker?' and 'do you know you already have Movie Maker?'... mostly they say no. Beyond that the learning is usually quick and easy, even with the 'classic versions' using a mini-DV camcorder connected to the computer by firewire.

With the new Windows Live version I'm re-invigorated to learn about it in the Windows 7 environment, and look forward to helping the next waves of users.

Posted by: PapaJohn-MVP | August 29, 2009 4:05 AM | Report abuse

i started w/ iMovie 3 & liked the interface as i had worked for years w/ tape to tope editing professionally 3/4" U-Matic & other formats, so having a timeline w/ key-framing made sense as did the VO & additional audio tracks. i do think it's been dumbed down-it does take time & thought to create a movie, even a 5-10 minute short. w/ video & stills on phones as well as the lo-dough Flip, Kodak & RCA cams, coupled w/ YouTube for quick dissemination, it seems fewer people are willing to take the time & thought to make their movies more than "hey look what i shot!" so, the developers are following a trend. i didn't care for the changes to Apple's iMovie 08, but am glad they restored some features to 09 for those users that used/missed them. now 3rd parties need to develop(Gee Three, where are you?!). i moved on from iMovie 4 to Final Cut Express + Soundtrack(before Garageband & it's scoring ability), through vs 3.5 & now use Final Cut Studio 2. i still use iDVD for many projects-simple, quick & makes good looking product.

Posted by: dkjazz3 | August 29, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

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