Installing Windows 7
The next version of Windows beyond Vista is Windows 7. The first beta version released to the public was in January 2009. A number of updates, along with the final release, were made after that. Windows 7 was formally released on October 22, 2009 – I and many others hosted release parties.
My installations went well. The first thing I did was confirm what I'd read about Windows Movie Maker not being included. Yup, it's not. Other than having Windows DVD Maker, it's a clean slate with regards to making movies.
The final Windows 7 release introduced two new issues for me:
1. The driver for the TV Tuner on my 5 year old HP desktop isn't Windows 7 compatible so I can't watch or record TV with it. The driver had worked fine with each of the beta releases but was turned off by the final.
2. Similarly, Photo Story 3 (PS3) had installed and worked on each beta release, but wouldn't install on the final… Microsoft resolved the PS3 issue but I'm still waiting for a Windows 7 compatible TV tuner driver.
I had also read that Windows 7 automatically provides enhanced choices when you plug in a device. I was curious to see my choices when I connect my Sony Mini-DV camcorder (TRV80 model) with a FireWire cable and turn it on in VCR mode. It was recognized, a driver was automatically installed, but no options were presented, not even one to import video clips from the camcorder. There wasn't any software to do anything with the camcorder.
It's an operating system with little to nothing on it for doing video work … where do we go from here?
Adding Movie Maker
Microsoft recommends the free download of the latest Windows Live Suite, which includes Windows Live Movie Maker (WLMM) for Vista and Windows 7 (XP doesn't support WLMM). That gets you the newest version, but one considerably slimmed down in features from MM2.1 in XP or MM6 in Vista. It's good for quickly and easily making a video and uploading to YouTube, but not for anything close to the kinds of serious editing you can do with classic versions of Movie Maker.
Experienced users will want to continue with what they've become accustomed to. It turns out the special Vista edition MM2.6 downloads, installs and works fine on Windows 7. It was produced by Microsoft to help those who were having problems with the version 6.0 in Vista. Although stripped of many features, it's pretty much aligned with the familiar MM2.1 of Windows XP. MM2.6 is the only classic version of Movie Maker that's a stand-alone download from Microsoft and an easy installation … get it at:
MM2.6 has the features to fully edit and produce a video, but it doesn't have the importing feature of MM2.1. For that, you can use the import wizard in the Windows Live Suite. MM2.6 works well with the Pixelan Spice FX6 packages of extras and Wizards, and you can setup other custom effects and transitions to work with it.
I've copied MM1 and MM2.1 from my XP system and MM6 from my Vista system, registered the DLLs and they are working well. But I haven't yet added many of the thousands of extra 3rd party special effects and transitions that are on my XP and Vista computers.
It turns out installing MM2.6 also resolved some Issues I experienced with MM2.1 in Windows 7. It's not surprising as they are very similar with one made for XP and the other for Vista. The Windows 7 system is closer to Vista.
In addition to the newest version of Movie Maker, the Windows Live Suite includes a video import wizard that works with a mini-DV or digital8 camcorder connected by FireWire. MM1 and MM2.1 in Windows 7 also capture video from my mini-DV camcorder, when connected by FireWire.
Imported video clips can be browsed in the folders of the Windows Live Photo Gallery or imported into the collections of the classic versions of Movie Maker.
Starting with no version of Movie Maker in Windows 7, I'm now running with five of them.
Making Video Clips from Still Pix
Photo Story 3 is a favorite of many when it comes to making those neat Ken Burns style video clips from high quality still pictures. First developed for XP, the app downloaded, installed and ran fine on the beta releases of Windows 7. Clips produced could be used in Windows Live Movie Maker or classic Movie Maker projects. But, as I noted above, the final Windows 7 release had somehow turned off the ability to install or use PS3 on many computers.
Microsoft tweaked the compatibility checks that stopped PS3 and it now downloads and runs fine on Windows 7.
The Bottom Line
Movie Maker has been and still is a favorite video editing app for those learning about digital video editing. For advanced prosumers and professionals, other software is usually used instead of, or with, Movie Maker.
My overall experience with Windows 7 is positive. I have it on two 32-bit computers (a laptop and a desktop) and a new 64-bit desktop. I'm enjoying the added complexities to make movies in the Windows 7 environment.