LiveSino.net earlier this week, captured an info panel purportedly from the Windows Live Wave 4 Essentials Beta download page, revealing that the latest version of Windows Live Essentials will indeed require at least Windows Vista SP2 or Windows 7 (read: it wont work on XP):
"Windows Live Essentials 2010 beta includes free programs from Microsoft for photos, movies, instant messaging, e-mail, blogging, and more. Get them all in one download and get more done with Windows. Essentials is currently available in seven languages and requires Windows 7 or Windows Vista."
Windows Live Wave 4 is the collection of services including Windows Live Mail, Messenger instant-messaging, Writer blogging tool, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker and other optional software/service add-ons designed to supplement Windows. A subset of these services is bundled together and available via a single installer (Windows Live Essentials).
Microsoft has been internally testing Wave 4 for a while now, and there have been several leaked versions available over the Web in recent months. According to a recent roadmap leak which has since been removed from Windows Live, as has the leakers site (but was grabbed and saved by Neowin.Net) the public beta of Wave 4 is coming in June. The release to the Web of the final version of Windows Live Wave 4 is slated for August, according to that roadmap.
Last year, some of us Microsoft watchers were expecting the Softies to release Wave 4 around the same time as the company made Windows 7 commercially available (October 2009). Even though Microsoft released Wave 3 in early 2009, the original plan for Windows Live seemed to be to make regularly updated releases available more rapidly to consumers, but so far that hasnt been the case.
Wave 4 is expected to include the rebranded Live Mesh synchronization service, and will be the first release to include Office Live services (like the consumer version of Office Web Apps). It also is expected to include a new Bing bar and a Windows Live Companion service for shared browsing.
This is all Microsoft is saying about Wave 4 for now:
We continue to actively work on the next release of Windows Live and think customers will be excited by the changes. The final versions will be released when they are ready for our customers worldwide. We have no specifics to share on the release date or final product at this time.