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All the Other Things in Windows

Windows is more than just a pretty desktop and some configuration utilities. Windows also includes many accessory programs and system tools you can use to perform basic system operations.

Built-In Applications and System Tools

Windows includes a number of single-function accessory programs, all accessible from the Start menu. These programs include a calculator, some games, two basic word processors (Notepad and WordPad), a drawing program (Paint), a player for audio and video files (Windows Media Player), a photo viewing program (Windows Photo Viewer), a DVD burning program (Windows DVD Maker), the Internet Explorer web browser, and more. You access all of these accessories from the Start menu and by selecting All Programs. Some programs are right on the All Programs menu; others are a level down on the Accessories menu.

Windows 7 also includes a handful of technical tools you can use to keep your system running smoothly. You can access all these tools by clicking the Start button and selecting All Programs, Accessories, System Tools.

Downloading More Applications

In previous versions of Windows, Microsoft included even more built-in applications. In Windows 7, however, Microsoft decided to streamline the operating system a bit and make some of these applications optional. This is nice if you never use some of the applications, as they don’t have to take up space on your hard drive.

Instead of including the applications in the operating system itself, Microsoft makes the applications available for free download as part of the Windows Live Essentials program. The applications you can download include the following:

  • Windows Live Family Safety, for monitoring and controlling your children’s Internet access
  • Windows Live Mail, for sending and receiving email
  • Windows Live Messenger, for instant messaging
  • Windows Live Movie Maker, for editing digital movies
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery, for viewing, organizing, and editing digital photos
  • Windows Live Toolbar, for searching the Web (using Windows Live Search) directly from your web browser
  • Windows Live Writer, for creating blog posts on Blogger, Wordpress, TypePad, and other blogging services

To download and install any or all of these applications, go to download.live.com and follow the directions there.

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