Windows Live Essentials: Thumbs Up or Down?

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Let me say at the outset: I never liked Outlook Express. Never. The feature difference between Outlook and Outlook Express was always so extreme that I would only use Outlook Express when necessary and always with a frown. In moving on to Windows Mail (which came with Vista), which I use at times, I find myself putting on the same frown. It was with that mindset I downloaded and installed the Windows Live Essentials suite, Microsoft's latest collection of communication- and collaboration-oriented apps.

Unlike its predecessors, Windows Live Essentials is not bundled with an OS, although some of its multimedia components are. That means Microsoft can change and update the applications without being tied to the OS upgrade cycle.

[ Get the scoop on Windows 7 with J. Peter Bruzzese's quick guide PDF. | See if your PC can run Windows: Download InfoWorld Sentinel today. ]

Despite Windows Live Essentials' association with Windows 7 (it will be integrated into the forthcoming OS if you download and install it), you do not have to run Windows 7 to use Live Applications. You can download them to a system running Windows XP SP2 (32-bit only) and Windows Vista (32- or 64-bit). With the exception of Movie Maker, which does not run on XP, the applications work the same as in Windows 7. You may need to install additional components in some cases, so be sure to review the system requirements at the Live download site.

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