Features included in the Windows Movie Maker software family include footage importing, drag-and-drop editing, output into various file types and DVD, and the ability to add an assortment of effects and/or transitions. Up to 49 different effects and 63 kinds of transitions are available to use. Windows Movie Maker uses a non-linear editing system: the original file is not modified, a new file is created instead as you work. This both protects your source material, and allows simultaneous production of multiple different clips from the same original file. Footage can be imported either directly from compatible cameras or from pre-existing compatible file types; completed footage can be exported either as one of a number of file types (depending on the version used), or even directly back to a compatible camera device.
The first version was a free pack-in with Windows Me, although it had not been included with Windows 2000, released the same year. However, the Me version (as well as some later versions) can be transferred to Windows 2000 and can be used with that operating system normally. Version 1.1 of the software was included with Windows XP, released in 2001. The original version of Windows Movie was considered functionally limited, a “bare bones” application; version 1.1 added support for DV AVI and WMV file types in addition to the original’s ASF file format. In 2002, version 2.0 was made available as a free download, updating the Windows XP version with some new features. Another update followed in the Windows XP Service Pack. In 2005, Windows XP Media Center Edition was released, which included version 2.5 of the software. Version 2.5 was the first version that enabled the user to burn DVDs.
Windows Vista introduced another update in the form of version 2.6; adding support for Windows Media Center television recording. In the Premium and/or Ultimate editions of Windows Vista (HD versions), HDV camcorder capture can be utilized, creating DVR-MS files from a digital camcorder source. This was the last version of Windows Movie Maker in its “original” form. Windows 7 introduces Windows Live Movie Maker–a new program more in line with Microsoft’s “Live” market strategy. Even as a completely new program, older Movie Maker files from the previous versions can be imported into the new software. Windows Movie Maker version 2.6 can also be used in Windows 7, for those that prefer the older functionality.
Windows Live Movie is available for free download to users running the Windows 7 operating system. It is notable that while Windows Movie is versatile and fairly well-reviewed in the PC community, as a free downloadable its features do pale in comparison to software designed for professional use; serious movie buffs will want to consider purchase of the more comprehensive dedicated software available. However, casual users will likely be more comfortable using WMM simpler interface. Based on its lack of a sticker price and its solid assortment of features, Windows Movie Maker is still a valuable tool for video editing and production on Windows-based systems.