Windows Live Essentials is a software suite released by Microsoft that works through integration with the operating system. Windows 7 has a handful of Live Essentials pre-installed, and you can download more from their web site.
Most users do not realize how much Microsoft contributes to the everyday use of their computer, and Windows Live Essentials is one of the ways they help consumers interact without having to find other software to use.
Windows Live Essentials have been released in four waves with the current wave – Wave 4 – having been released in September 2010. Windows Vista or 7 is required to take advantage of everything Windows Live Essentials has to offer.
The following are Windows Live Essentials programs:
Bing Bar, Family Safety, Mail, Mesh, Messenger/Messenger Companion, Movie Maker, Outlook Connector, Photo Gallery, Silverlight and Writer
We will take a brief look at each component of Windows Live Essentials. You can pick and choose which ones you use, and some do not come by default when you begin using the Windows operating system.
Windows Live Essentials
The Bing Bar is a toolbar for Internet Explorer that allows you to take advantage of its search features. It also offers a variety of visual effects, themes and more to make searching the Internet more exciting. You can customize it to offer sports scores, breaking news in your area and the local weather. The Bing Bar also incorporates data from other Windows Live services, such as mail, so that you are alerted when you receive a new e-mail from Hotmail, Gmail or even Yahoo.
Windows Live Family Safety is a parental monitoring system and is free for consumers to use to help keep their children safe. It allows for web filtering, allows lists, child-friendly sites, online communications and warnings for sites that have adult content. Parents can also monitor their children’s activity and be proactive in adding content to lists to keep prying eyes away from areas of the web that are less than savory.
Windows Live Mail is an e-mail client that is considered the successor to Outlook Express and Windows Mail. It works for Vista and 7 and is a continuation of the hard work put into Outlook Express. Mail offers support for many different e-mail accounts online, such as Gmail and Yahoo. It allows you to sync your Windows Live contacts for easier e-mailing. It also supports RSS feeds in conjunction with Internet Explorer.
Windows Live Mesh allows you to sync files over the Internet between two computers. This is only available for Windows Vista or Windows 7-based machines. However, it can also sync with a variety of Mac operating systems, too. Mesh uses the technology of SkyDrive to allow the sync to take place.
Currently, you can sync 200 folders and 100,000 files up to 40 GB a file. You can also sync a limited amount to SkyDrive itself. Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office can be synced via Mesh between two computers to make it easier to share bookmarks and documents.
Windows Live Messenger is one of the most commonly used instant messaging programs on the Internet. It works with a variety of Windows operating systems as well as mobile platforms.
The Windows Live Messenger Companion is an add-on for Internet Explorer. It detects shared content in Windows Live so that uses can see where people are browsing, what they are up to and allow folks to comment.
Windows Live Movie Maker is a fully functional video creation and editor. This software has been one of Windows’ staples for years and has increased its ability to do just about anything you ever would need with a movie on your computer. It also allows users to post finished masterpieces to Flickr, SkyDrive, Facebook, and YouTube. You can even create HD video while working with it.
The Outlook Hotmail Connector is an add-on for Microsoft Outlook that allows those using it to have access to Hotmail and Office Live Mail through the program. It can only be used in Outlook 2003, 2007 or 2010, and you must be using Windows XP, Vista or 7 to take advantage of it. This is the only way to get access to Hotmail and Live Mail without paying for an upgrade with MSN.
Windows Live Photo Gallery is similar to other photo management and sharing software. It offers facial recognition, geo-tagging, blemish removers, and noise reduction tools. It is based on the Windows Photo Gallery technology and offers improvements in managing, tagging and publishing to sites such as Flickr or Facebook.
Microsoft Silverlight is a background framework application that allows your browser to run certain programs and services when surfing the Internet. For example, if you use Netflix online, Silverlight makes that possible on a Windows-based machine. Silverlight often runs behind the scenes and unless you know it is necessary to use a certain feature of a web site, most Windows users would never know it existed.
Windows Live Writer is a desktop publishing application focusing on making it easier to upload, edit and maintain blog content. It is a what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) application that allows users to do just about anything they would need to create an effective blog post. It offers compatibility with the majority of blogging sites out there, such as Blogger, BlogPad and WordPress.
Are the Windows Live Essentials worth your time?
There are a handful of Windows Live Essentials you probably did not know existed until today. Some of the Windows Live Essentials are beneficial to use and can make things easier for users, especially when they do not want to hunt down software to use on their own.
Since these can easily be downloaded from Microsoft and often come bundled with a Windows operating system, you can use them from the get-go if you know where to look and that they are there. Windows Live Essentials offers tools that can make your life much easier on a Windows-based machine.
Are you currently using any of the Windows Live Essentials? If so, let us know which ones and how you use them. Also, let us know what you do not like about them. We will cover each Windows Live Essentials program in greater details down the line so we want to know what stands out for you as users.