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Examining Windows Live Essentials

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Windows Live Essentials is a suite of free software programs that can supplement the programs built into Microsoft Windows 7. Learn more about the Live Essentials applications in this article by Michael Miller, author of Windows 7 Your Way.
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Windows Live Essentials is a collection of free applications that Microsoft offers for the new Windows 7 operating system—in fact, for all recent versions of Windows. Most of the applications used to be included with older versions of Windows, but have become "unbundled" in Windows 7.

Even though you no longer get these applications as part of a normal Windows installation, you can still download them to your computer, for free, as part of what Microsoft calls Windows Live Essentials.

Understanding Bundled Applications

Microsoft's operating systems have become a bit bloated over the years. In the early days of MS-DOS, the only thing you got when you installed an operating system was the operating system itself.

Over the years, however, Microsoft began to bundle more and more auxiliary utilities and applications with the OS, from a basic text editor (Notepad) to a calculator to a web browser to photo-editing program.

It's difficult to argue that a photo-editing program is a core component of the operating system because it quite obviously isn't. It is, however, convenient to users who now don't have to purchase and install a separate photo-editing program.

Fine and dandy, but a bit damaging to those competing companies who are attempting to make money from selling photo-editing software. It's downright non-competitive, in many eyes.

Microsoft has responded to these complaints by unbundling some of these applications from the core Windows 7 operating system. This unbundling is good for competing software companies, but not necessarily good for users. They now have to go out and purchase programs that they used to get for free in previous versions of Windows.

So what applications did Microsoft unbundle from Windows 7? Here's the list; these are all programs that used to be installed automatically in previous versions of Windows, but are no longer included as part of the installation routine:

  • Windows Mail (email)
  • Windows Messenger (instant messaging)
  • Windows Movie Maker (video editing)
  • Windows Photo Gallery (photo editing and organization)

If you're used to using these programs, you won't find them in Windows 7—at least, not by default.

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