Dec 08 2010

Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 Has Limits

zw2gtasu_thumb Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 Has LimitsWindows Live dev team has placed a lot of effort in to the release of the Windows Live suite of applications and there’s been a few milestones crushed and some, not so much.

I did a review of Windows Live Movie Maker a little while back and my initial review was based on what Windows Live Movie Maker improvements were… Since then I have been emailed over and over by people that say I so off base with that review and all the things I missed…

Initially, my apologies; the version of Windows Live Movie Maker I was running for my review was doing fairly well— seriously! It was, but as people started to point things out and the more I tested their points; they were right…

So, here I’m stating, ‘your right, I didn’t do enough testing…’

This is one of my longest posts, and you’ve my apologies if your eyes start crossing, dribbling blood.. or you go in to some sort of full body convulsion.

Here’s a few things that Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 didn’t get right…


Corrupt Installations

Windows Live Movie Maker has many issues with installation. There’s the blanket issue of where Windows Live Movie Maker won’t start at all and you don’t understand why; because there’s no log to review— like in Windows Live Writer. [just a break down in consistency]

There’s the strange and cryptic errors with absolutely no rhyme or reason to them; and frankly, the support staff’s standard response to these inquires is completely depressing.

If you’re looking to get answers, the first thing they ask you is to check out their FAQ page; it wreaks of hopeless torment via a lagging forum response.

I’ve never seen ONE response from Windows Live support that tells a customer how to fix any of theses installation problems. The standard response is to have the user completely remove Windows Live Movie Maker, or the Windows Live suite of applications, and reinstall- ugh.

Other problems include the ‘unspecified path’ error when trying to run Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 for the first time.

If you’ve never run the program before, how in the bloody Hell can you’ve an unspecified path? And as of this post, the Windows Live dev team for Windows Live Movie Maker have yet to reply a single time to provide an answer to this issue.

All those users are still hanging— waiting.


Missing Codecs

Windows Live Movie Maker is hopelessly lost on is the codecs. I was introduced to this issue around first of October [2010]. I got eMail after eMail about this video doesn’t work and that audio doesn’t work. And from this I realized how narrow the scope of vision Windows Live Movie Maker really was.

What you need to realize is that Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 depends solely on YOU to find the codecs for your device to be able to use it with Windows Live Movie Maker.

Most people are asking what’s a codec?

This what you’ll get from Microsoft Windows Live support…

Here’s the supported file types for Windows Live Movie Maker…

And something about codecs…

Most people are going to be giving attention to this like ‘what?, What’s this?’ — rightfully so. It should be easier; but it’s not.

Even something so simple as getting videos from a current video camera with MP4 or h.264 formatted videos, or even MOV [which is very standard] aren’t holistically supported; there’s loop holes.

And for all the months I spent helping users in the forums, I only ever saw ONE Microsoft tech offer a direct link to a codec for an user. But I don’t know if he did it for spite…

In the same forum post, I stated to the user requesting support that Microsoft would not help him get the correct codec, and his response was completely different from any other tech I had seen, and clearly gave the customer a site to go to, to get the iPhone/Panasonic codec for Windows Live Movie Maker.

Which is here:

Codec to IPhone and Panasonic Phones


I believe it’s plain to see Microsoft is expecting users to educate themselves and resolve these issues on their own; basically stepping away from the table stating I do this; you do that—


Include the Codecs

So in a previous post about Windows Live Movie Maker support woes, I mentioned about the Windows Live Movie Maker issues and I got a response from a Microsoft tech [I believe] in regards to the codecs… his response basically that Microsoft couldn’t provide all the codecs because of licensing and distribution costs.

I call it out as BS, because there’s other programs out there, that are free, and can read all these formats and convert them in to something Windows Live Movie Maker can read. Seem odd to you? It did me.

So, when you’re trying to use video with Windows Live Movie Maker and it’s not behaving, you’ve to download a FREE program that’ll convert the video something Windows Live Movie Maker can read, compose and publish. It’s very lazy coding to me and nothing more than hiding behind a curtain of ‘we’re not willing to make time to do things right.’

I say it like that because there’s other programs That aren’t as robust in presentation and without the effects, but they understand the basic of a video editing program is to be able to EDIT the video; that means understanding the video types.

When people ask me what video converter I use, I reply back with this…

If you’re having issues with Windows Live Movie Maker and you can’t find the codec you need, or one that’ll work, you may need to convert the video to avi and then import it in to Windows Live Movie Maker.

I suggest a free one, that handles lost of different video types and audio and it’s super simple to use.

Ultimately, if you can find the codec that works, great; if not, or if your pressed for time, here’s a FREE option to convert the data.


Ultimately, if you can find the codec that works, great; if not, or if your pressed for time, here’s a FREE option to convert the data.

If your asking me, Microsoft really dropped the ball on this one.



Removal Of The Timeline

The removal of the timeline from the Windows Live Movie Maker application has been a fairly large mistake for Windows Live Movie Maker dev team, and a major point of friction for people who previously used Windows Live Movie Maker, from the previous version. The option was completely removed.

Users have been so distraught over the issue, they’ve devised a way to reload Windows Movie Maker v6 on to Windows 7 [ouch!]; that’s a stinger…users want to downgrade— that’s listening to the customer base.

Link: [found by Grapeman1965 in the forums]

It’s a customer installer, fairly simple, but shouldn’t be required in the first place.


Removal of the Narration

It started with a person asking about HOW many images [IMAGES] could be placed in to a video with Windows Live Movie Maker. The answer from Windows Live Movie Maker support was staggering.

The response from Microsoft support was basically that based on the system resources, limits the length of how long a video, composed and saved, in Windows Live Movie Maker could be… What?!

I asked for clarification on the issue; 2 weeks later I got a response basically acknowledging the issue with Windows Live Movie Maker and they were going to address it later.

I still needed clarification because the response I got was a bit vague. 4 weeks later I got another response…

Our initial answer though still stands. There is no limit when adding photos in a Windows Live Movie Maker project. However, just like any other programs, it may cause error messages when you save large projects (WLMP) to movie files (WMV).

So, according to Microsoft and the Windows Live dev/support team, you can import as many images and video you want, but you may be limited when you make an attempt SAVE that project. There’s a fundamental problem here and I’ll explain in the next section, and it’s very suspicious. You would think there’d be issues with IMPORTING large projects or images; not after you’ve completed everything and you need to save it?!

Windows Live Movie Maker acknowledges the video is imported and converted to be used with Windows Live Movie Maker. So if you apply an effect or transition, or add a frame, it should be done right then; not stored in memory. Everything stored on the hard drive; limited by hard drive space— I get that…[it’s perfectly understandable]

Anything your giving attention to, on the screen, should be in active memory, everything else should be just waiting somewhere. And how something like this missed their QC department is beyond me; assuming there was a QC process.


Is it a NEW application altogether?

There are SO any things that have changed in Windows Movie Maker to Windows Live Movie Maker that I’m almost convinced that it’s a completely NEW software application.

Why do I say this? Here’s why:

  • Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 doesn’t import the previous versions project files; doesn’t recognize them correctly. Who does this?
  • The time line was removed?! Who does this? Every video editing package I have ever seen has a time line— and this version they removed it.
  • The narration is removed; again— who does this? Who removes features? It’s more likely it wasn’t there in this NEW version.
  • There’s also reports that codecs, for Windows operating system, that worked with Windows Movie Maker v6, don’t work with Windows Live Movie Maker. This stinks to me even more. This sounds more like a whole new application to me… Stuff like this really points to a whole flip flop of architecture— companies don’t do that; that’s serious programming time.
  • And there’s too many installation problems… Just too many. This wreaks of a completely new application Microsoft just scooped up and re-labeled it. Just like they do everything else.


Let’s wrap this up…

All this is leaving Windows Live Movie Maker customers very jaded about the product Microsoft is pumping out. Is Microsoft listening to this jabber and complaints; no one will ever know, Microsoft doesn’t offer a bug tracking system for the public so they can see that the issues have been reported. They’d rather hide all the issues than to expose themselves as having issues at all…

Is this a good strategy?

I say no. Others, from a business standpoint, will say, yes.

My viewpoint says at least users will give you more respect for being more forthcoming about the issues; more willing to show they’ve [Microsoft] recorded it and they’re addressing it. Instead of trying to play the role of the great OZ, and never mind the man behind the curtain…

That just doesn’t work for people.

Now, Microsoft Windows Live dev team says there’s going to be an update. Again, when, we don’t know, what will be in it? unknown.

People willing to stick with a free crappy product cause it’s from Microsoft; unknown. Just like the time frame and all the support questions people are asking— awaiting a response from Microsoft. Unknown.

But stating all this, the Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 is a free program; you get what you get.

I’d speculate you’d expect more quality from a company that used to be the driving force of innovation… But that’s not Microsoft anymore. A massive lumbering giant struggling to breathe in a world of speed runners, seems to be the case now.


As for Windows Live Movie Maker, if you want free, you get free, and everything that comes along with it. You assume the faults and the shortcomings and you either use it, or don’t. And issues like this is the defining point— do you put up with all the shortcomings of a free program, or do you go out and find something comparable for $50 and stop your complaining; or at least complain to someone your paying for a service or application…

I personally use the Windows Live Movie Maker application because I have found my codecs and dealt with the issues presented to me, this whole post was simply a response to some of the issues and complaints I have received, and issues noted in the Windows Live Movie Maker support forum.

It can be viewed from several vantage points, but these are the biggest issues I’ve seen; and your welcome to browse the forums yourself.

You can resume your day, already in progress…


Thank you,
Larry Henry Jr. 

zemified_c Windows Live Movie Maker 2011 Has Limits

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Larry Henry Jr.

I'm a techie, I'm a blogger- I'm interested in all things technology. I like renewable energy, I like hardware/software/gadgets that make life more fun, productive and useful; and then sharing that with others. I attempt to take in all the information I have and make conclusions, sharing commentary from time to time. Job wise, I was in the United States Marine Corp, I've been a Customer Service Director, Tech Support Technician, and currently in Document Imaging Project Management. I'm also a Microsoft MVP. Feel free to contact me…

  • Harry

    I think it's pretty cool. It's simple to import and export movies. the transitions are nice. There is a time line it just looks different. The automatic mode is sort of useful. Splitting and mixing video files is straightforward. I use it in conjunction with the free Camstudio to make short tutorial videos. All I can say is I have no problems but I am very concious of what it is and I do not try to do anything overly complex. you can have 2 audio tracks. You can have one embedded with the imported video and you can import another one. You cannot record narration in which is a shame. I think the inclusion of a fade effect, compression and 5 band EQ would complete the audio side. As it stands I record narration into the free Audacity and compress it in there. I like Live 2011. I have no experience with earlier version but I like the simple workflow and predictable results.

    • lehenryjr

      They could've tried a little harder on some things, but it's an improvement over the last version; although you should never remove functions from a software package unless there's a very good reason— removal of the multi-audio tracks, the timeline and the narration were all big mistakes to remove.

      Thanks for your time…

      Until next time,
      Larry Henry Jr.

      • The original WMM (2.1, 2.6 and 6.0) were also limited to one additional audio/music track. You always (and still) have the embedded audio (tied to the video clip) as well as added "music". The difference is in the classic WMM you could see the waveforms of each (so aligning sound effects was easier) and you could overlap clips with a fade (so you could have one song fade out as another fades in).

        It's incorrect to say that mulitple audio tracks were in the prior versions. But I do agree on the following take-aways:
        1) No ability to directly create and add narration
        2) No visible waveforms for audio (good for aligning pictures, video and transitions to beats in music, for example, or for aligning captions to spoken words in the audio.)
        3) No capability to overlap (fade) added audio clips (e.g. fade one song out as the other fades in).
        My recent post Blaine's TV Signal Effects

  • Jake

    Thank you so much for the link to the downgrade! I can once again create and edit my simple home movies for the grandparents to enjoy.

    • lehenryjr

      Yeah, a lot of people want that link.

      Until next time,
      Larry Henry Jr.

      • While that installer does a good job for those with Windows 7 (32-bit), it's a better idea to install a full 64-bit version of WMM 6.0 if you are on Windows 7 (64-bit). I have a link to both versions on my website. I'll post the link if you think it is worthwhile, but I don't want to seem like I'm "spamming" your website asking for references. Basically there's a button at the top of my blog to the pair of installers for WMM 6.0 on Windows 7, but again I leave it up to you if you'd like to reference the link or not. They were actually inspired by Grapemanca's post on the Windows Movie Makers forums about the lack of a WMM 6.0 installer.

  • WMM7.0 IS CRAP

    thanks for the link, i downloaded it and am using 6.0 now.

    God i hate 7.0, no timeline? what? no narration? MICROSOFT 7.0 IS TRASH!! what the hell is wrong with these idiots? it was great how it was, why remove so much with no improvement? whether its a free program or not shouldnt even come into it, its about the program itself. Would you be happy with a rotten apple, even if it was free? of course not!! you wouldnt even want the apple!! Movie maker "magic" 7.0,-One word PATHETIC!

    • lehenryjr

      I believe it could've been a lot better… I believe their focus was more on the ribbon GUI.
      Thanks for your comments…

      Until next time,
      Larry Henry Jr.

  • Wesley Holt

    the only issue i have is it lags too much i make videos for youtube my account if MSFlightVideos2 but im offair untill i either get sony vegas of the lag gets sorted any tips before i get vegas?

  • Florian Stroe

    Thank you for the review. It helps me a lot. Now, I understand why I couldn`t save the movie. In fact, I saved the first one (500Mb) but the second one (1 Gb) gave me a lot of errors. So, the memory (RAM) is the problem (I have only 2 Gb of RAM). I can add a video of any dimension but after editing I can save the movie only if the RAM is big enough… I am no expert but this is very "unusual"…. Anyway, thank you again.



  • Ashley Higashi

    Well that was extremely informative and thoroughly depressing. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to comment on my blog post and re-directing me here. I have heard mixed reviews about movie maker, and am glad to see that others have had problems installing the program (misery loves company, right?).

    I was wondering if you might have a solution for me. Either to get it installed on my computer despite its flaws, or if you could recommend another FREE video editing program for a PC. Several of the free ones I have come across look complicated. I need the basics – to clip vidoes, combine clips, add ppt slides, add narration to those ppt slides (or background music). I have never in my life edited videos before, so I am knew at this. I had used movie maker briefly on a previous computer and my favorite thing about it was the timeline, which you mentioned was removed. Thus I am pretty indifferent to using movie maker – but I NEED something.
    My recent post The Top 7 Fitness Myths from healthy womenorg

  • Ashley Higashi

    Well that was extremely informative and thoroughly depressing. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to comment on my blog post and re-directing me here. I have heard mixed reviews about movie maker, and am glad to see that others have had problems installing the program (misery loves company, right?).

    The thing is, I NEED some kind of FREE video editing program. I am new at this, in fact I have only ever done this once and that was with movie maker on an old laptop. The free programs I see online seem too fancy for me. I need something basic. I need to clip videos, add clips together, add powerpoint slides and maybe some narration or background music. But it seems they took out the latter? and I loved the timeline!

    Any suggestions for me?
    My recent post The Top 7 Fitness Myths from healthy womenorg

    • Good afternoon Ashley,
      I actually gave up on Windows Live Movie Maker and switched to Magix…
      It's not free, but it's done a great job thus far…

      I will comment back if I can find something for you.

      I hope this helps…
      Until next time,
      Larry Henry Jr.

      • I haven't tried this yet, but if you're going for FREE; this might work. It's now [the current version] is owned by Pinnacle, but this is the older version and it seems to still be free.

        I hope this helps…
        Until next time,
        Larry Henry Jr.

        • Ashley Higashi

          Thank you!

          It turns out that link you provided to the older version of movie maker installed just fine. So I might try that? I am at work at the moment. I may download this one too and try them both out and see which I like best. So in a way, you pretty much saved me twice!

          Now if only the work day would go by faster…
          My recent post The Top 7 Fitness Myths from healthy womenorg

  • Kyle B.

    Just so you know, The hardware and system resources do not figure into the equation. As late as May '11, on my Windows 7 system equipped with an 12TB of storage, AMD hexacore processor running at 3.3GHZ, and 16 GB of RAM .. the app faithfully freezes at 70+% with no recovery at all. Hands down, it's the only app that can KILL the Win 7 Kernel dead stop. and the system doesnt even know it, not even after a hard re-boot.

    Nice job.

  • Bob

    Don't forget it doesn't play audio AT ALL

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  • When are you going to post again? You really entertain a lot of people!