5 Legendary Windows Tools Replaced by New Features

Ben Stegner 17-09-2015

While everyone loves downloading cool software, Windows has plenty of tools built-in, some of which you might not even have known existed 5 Windows 7 Features You Didn't Know Existed Windows 7 contains many little-known features. Here we highlight the more impressive ones that could boost your productivity and deepen your love for Windows 7. Read More . It can be easy to ignore these features, but they make Windows the operating system (OS) that we know today.


We’ve already looked at underappreciated features in Windows 6 Underappreciated Features of the Windows Operating System There are plenty of Windows features you use every day, but some you might not have ever seen. Let's give these underrated tools some credit. Read More , so let’s mix it up. Today, we’re going to look at some tools that the OS used to feature front and center, but have been phased out by newer programs. Some of these go back to the early years of Windows, so count how many you’ve used!

Internet Explorer

  • First release: August 1995 (Microsoft Internet Explorer), Windows 95
  • Discontinued: July 2015 (Internet Explorer 11), launch of Windows 10
  • Replaced by: Microsoft Edge

Let’s start with something recent. Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE), first available with the Microsoft Plus! enhancement package on Windows 95, has a long history as Windows’ default browser. For the first few years of its life, it enjoy relatively little competition, but versions 5 and 6 were full of security problems, which led to the rise of Mozilla Firefox (released in 2002) and Apple Safari (released in 2003). Microsoft didn’t bother to fix these problems, so people started looking elsewhere.

With better browsers on the market for free, IE 7 (released a whole five years after the atrocious version 6) was too little, too late. Google Chrome’s introduction in late 2008 and subsequent success sealed IE’s fate as the “worst browser” and the butt of many Internet jokes – How-To Geek has explained why geeks hated IE around this time.

Newer versions of IE actually aren’t too bad Surprise: Internet Explorer 11 Has Matured Into A Modern Browser Remember Internet Explorer 6? Well, Internet Explorer isn't horrible anymore. Whether you like IE or not, you can't deny that it has improved dramatically and is now worthy of taking its place alongside other modern... Read More (11 being the latest), but Microsoft still wanted to cast off its tainted image for Windows 10. The revamped Windows includes Edge, the new default browser How to Set Up Microsoft Edge, the Default Browser in Windows 10 Microsoft's new Internet browser Edge made its first appearance in Windows 10 Insider Preview. It's still rough around the edges, but sleek and fast. We show you how to migrate and set it up. Read More built from the ground up for the modern Web. IE 11 is still included in Windows 10 for legacy purposes, such as archaic business intranet websites, and will still be in use on Windows 8.1 and earlier, but its reign as the Windows default browser is no more.


Windows Media Center

  • First release: October 2002, with Windows XP Media Center Edition
  • Discontinued: July 2015, launch of Windows 10
  • Replaced by: Various tools

Windows Media Center, first packaged into a special media-focused edition of Windows XP, was included in most versions of Windows Vista and Windows 7 and available to buy for users of Windows 8/8.1.

Acting as a sort of Swiss Army knife for video content, it allowed you to watch slideshows and local video files, stream video through services like Netflix, and record live TV. Many people utilized it as their media hub, recording their favorite TV shows to stream to their TV later while skipping commercials, but its main function was to play DVDs.

The discontinuation of Windows Media Center was mainly due to the shift to streaming media over physical discs. Microsoft has to pay a fee for the right to play DVDs on every copy of Windows sold, and with fewer devices including optical drives Why Your MacBook Air Has No Optical Drive & 4 Reasons Why This Isn't a Problem The MacBook Air is one of the thinnest and lightest computers available today; thin as your finger, and so light every computer after will feel like you're hauling a sack of potatoes. In fact, ever... Read More these days, it made sense to phase the functionality out.


When upgrading to Windows 10, anyone whose prior version of Windows included Media Center will receive the new Windows DVD Player modern app for free. This sounds great, as the app is $15 for anyone else, but its 1.8 out of 5 rating suggests that the software is a piece of junk. Thankfully, you have alternatives for a full replacement of Media Center 5 Alternatives to Windows Media Center for Windows 10 Windows 10 will offer many new features, but some old favorites will be deprecated. The Windows Media Center will no longer be supported. Here are alternative media center application compatible with Windows 10 to take... Read More ; if you just need to play DVDs How to Play DVDs & Blu-Rays on Windows 10, Even Without a DVD Drive With the removal of Windows Media Center, it has suddenly become more difficult to play DVD and Blu-ray discs on your computer. Fortunately, you have alternatives, including third-party tools or virtual drives. Read More , stick with the always-awesome VLC Media Player, which has tons of fancy playback features 6 More VLC Media Player Features You Must Try VLC is a media player more powerful than you might realize. Are you using it to its full potential? Here are some pointers. Read More .

Outlook Express

  • First release: October 1997, with Internet Explorer 4
  • Discontinued: January 2007, launch of Windows Vista
  • Replaced by: Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Microsoft Outlook

Outlook Express was a basic email/news client that came bundled in with IE versions 4-6, and was integrated with the defunct Windows Messenger on Windows XP. Despite its name, Express is completely different from Outlook, which is a part of the Office suite. Curiously, it was also available for Mac OS 9.

There’s nothing too exciting about Outlook Express; it was a mail application for a younger Internet, and needed to be replaced when standards evolved, especially since it had numerous problems. With the launch of Windows Vista, Windows Mail took over the default mail application duties, which wasn’t hooked into IE as much as Outlook Express had been. The similarly named Windows Live Mail was released for free in late 2007 and served as a replacement for Outlook Express on Windows XP and Windows Mail on Windows Vista. It’s still available for download on Windows 7 and later.


Outlook is the most modern successor to Outlook Express; it’s available on the Web and shows why older desktop-based email is inferior 7 Reasons Why You Should Stop Using Desktop Email Clients Is a web-based email client preferable to a desktop option? We looked at the different pros and cons and found an answer for you. Read More . If Outlook is your email client of choice, learn to blast through your emails How to Blast Through Your Emails in Microsoft Outlook Don't let your emails monopolize your day, use these Outlook tips to take back control of your Inbox. Read More and get in control.

Backup and Restore

  • First release: January 2007, launch of Windows Vista
  • Discontinued: October 2013, launch of Windows 8.1
  • Replaced by: File History, various tools

It’s been said ad nauseam: everyone needs to back up their computer 6 Safest Ways to Backup & Restore Your Files in Windows 7 & 8 By now, we're sure you've read the advice over and over: Everyone needs to back up their files. But deciding to back up your files is only part of the process. There are so many... Read More . While previous versions of Windows, such as Windows XP, had a basic Backup feature, it wasn’t a full-featured tool until Backup and Restore launched with Windows Vista. It allowed users to back up individual folders of their choice How To Set Up & Use Windows 7 Backup & Restore Feature It's hardly a secret when I tell you that sooner or later you will need a backup of your personal data. Do you have one right now? What keeps most people from preparing regular backups... Read More , or create an exact snapshot of how the system was at one time, called a system image. Though there were many other backup solutions available Top 10 Backup Software Apps For Your PC Read More , this was the Windows default in Windows Vista and Windows 7.

However, Backup and Restore wasn’t an amazing backup program. Instead of recreating your file hierarchy so you could easily grab individual files from a backup, it made a single “container” that had to be restored with the same program. Most people want their backup solution to be simple, so Microsoft hid Backup and Restore in Windows 8 in favor of the new File History – a solution that makes copies of all files every hour, allowing you to “reverse time” and get older versions of files back Did You Know Windows 8 Has a Built-In Time Machine Backup? We sometimes forget with all the focus on Windows 8's new "Modern" interface, but Windows 8 has a variety of great desktop improvements. One of them is File History, a built-in backup feature that functions... Read More . With the Windows 8.1 update, Microsoft all but removed the old Backup and Restore.

Oddly, the solution is back as “Backup and Restore (Windows 7)” in Windows 10, but it’s certainly not a headlining feature. If you want to be sure that you have a plan when your hard drive dies Plan Ahead: The 5 Programs That Will Save You When Your Hard Drive Dies Sooner or later your computer's hard drive will die. Even with a solid backup plan, your files will be inaccessible until the hard drive is replaced. What will you do in the meantime? Read More , it’s not a bad idea, but there are better automated alternatives for file recovery A Single Backup Software is Enough: Is Bvckup 2 the One? Backups don't have to be tedious or annoying. With the right tool, backups happen in the background without you having to think about them. We can help you find the right tool. Read More .


Games Explorer / Windows Games

  • First release: January 2007, launch of Windows Vista / April 1992, with Windows 3.1
  • Discontinued: October 2012, launch of Windows 8
  • Replaced by: Steam, various tools

This one is sort of a collection of features, but they all died out for a similar reason. The Games Explorer was a part of Windows Vista and Windows 7 meant to be a one-stop place to manage all of your games The Best Apps to Manage Your Video Game Collection Better Looking for a "Goodreads for video games" service? Here are the top video game trackers you should look at. Read More ; besides including box art, content ratings, and publisher information, it also congregated quick links to audio/video settings, Windows Firewall, and system performance so you had everything you needed to game in one place.

Because games had to register themselves with Windows to show up here (and most didn’t) nobody really used this, especially with the rise of Steam as the premiere PC gaming platform 8 Steam Features You Didn't Know You Had You probably think you know how to use Steam pretty well. As with any piece of software, there are features you use everyday, and those you don't know you have until you look. Read More . Though the feature still remained intact in Windows 8, shortcuts to it were removed, so it was effectively gone.

Another part of the Windows Games lineage that was cut in newer versions are the default games traditionally included with Windows – Hearts, Minesweeper, and Solitaire that have been the bane of our productivity since Windows 3.1. On Windows 8, Microsoft didn’t include these games but instead offered new Metro app versions. If you prefer the classic versions, it is possible to get them back on Windows 8/8.1 How to Play Minesweeper on Windows 10 Microsoft no longer ships Minesweeper as part of Windows, but it doesn't mean you can't play the classic game! Read More .

Microsoft really crossed the line with Windows 10. Still offering these games as a Metro app, they also laced them with intrusive video ads and included in-app purchases What Are In-App Purchases & How Can I Disable Them? [MakeUseOf Explains] "I can’t believe it!" my cousin said to me the other day, "someone’s just bought a $10 in-app purchase on my mother’s phone, and she doesn’t even know what I’m talking about!". Sounds familiar? How... Read More to remove these annoyances. $10 a year to get what was free for decades understandably ticked a lot of people off, so our friends at the How-To Geek have you covered on how to get Solitaire for free in Windows 10. You can even play Solitaire in your browser; there’s an online version of Minesweeper, too.

Coupled with the Games for Windows brand being discontinued, we see Microsoft following the freemium path and targeting casual gamers with Metro apps. For core gamers, Windows 10 instead works with the Xbox One Here's How Gaming Will Work With Windows 10 With Windows 10, Microsoft is bringing PC gaming and the Xbox One together in a big way. Find out what to expect once Windows 10 arrives. Read More to provide a unified gaming experience.

Passing the Torch

Windows has passed through many features over the years; other staples such as the Quick Launch bar 7 Useful Toolbars You Can Add To Your Windows Taskbar The Windows desktop can be a super productive work space. Native toolbars can help you make it even more efficient by placing shortcuts and information at your fingertips. Let's have a closer look. Read More and the old Program Manager could have been included, as well. Depending on how long you’ve been using Windows, you may remember all five of these or none at all; it’s interesting to observe the tools that were once commonplace. In another ten years, Windows may drop the Taskbar 7 Tips for Customizing the Windows 10 Taskbar The taskbar remains a staple feature in Windows 10. It's been given a fresh look and new features, including Cortana. We show you all the tweaks to make the taskbar your own. Read More , Office Which Office Suite Is Best for You? You'll be pressed to find an occupation that doesn't require word or number processing of some sort. And you may wonder, is Microsoft Office really the best solution? Here are your options. Read More , or Control Panel Unlock Windows Potential: Control Panel Demystified If you want to be the master of your Windows experience, the Control Panel is where it's at. We untangle the complexity of this power tool. Read More in favor of new tools; only time will tell!

If you’re looking to dig up more cool features, check out useful features hidden in Mac OS X Yosemite 10 Useful OS X Yosemite Features You Might Have Missed Ever since OS X Yosemite came out, everyone has been looking to see if they can find the features not so widely reported by Timmy up on his stage. Read More . Stuck on Windows 10 and can’t upgrade? You can still get the coolest features of Windows 10 on earlier versions How To Get Novel Windows 10 Features On Windows 7 Or 8.1 It's time to upgrade your Windows experience. Short of installing a new operating system, you can get awesome features with third party applications. Windows 10 is not that novel after all. Read More .

What Windows features that you once used are now gone? If you had to pick one Windows feature that won’t be around in five years, which one would you choose? Weigh in below and let’s get thinking!

Related topics: Internet Explorer, Microsoft Outlook, Windows 10.

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  1. Anonymous
    October 7, 2015 at 6:20 am

    IE wasn't just available on Win95, I have stacks of CDs from APC (Australian Personal Computing) magazine with a copy of IE that works 100% on Win3.11, for the longest time that's how we accessed the internet at HS.

  2. Anonymous
    September 18, 2015 at 3:19 am

    I keep hearing about these video ads in Solitaire, but I haven't seen anything like that (yet!), The main difference I've noticed with the move from 8.1 to 10 is that the app was painfully slow to load in 8.1, often taking a minute or more, and now it loads in 10-15 seconds. It's still not as quick as starting the game on Windows 7, but it's tolerable. I'd find something else to do if it started bugging me with video ads, though.
    I'm glad they didn't get rid of Quick Launch. I don't know why it isn't enabled by default, as the taskbar becomes a cluttered mess if you pin shortcuts directly to it instead of to Quick Launch. Also, I like to open Chrome in more than one window, and it's easier to keep up with them and switch between them if I have them showing separately, which is easier to achieve with Quick Launch.

  3. Anonymous
    September 17, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    The ability to make an image-based system backup really isn't the sort of thing Microsoft should be trying to downplay or to make harder to find or more difficult to use; doing a file-based backup means that users working from a recovery state have to reconfigure system settings and reload software that they may or may not have installation media or product keys to return their computer to a fully working state.

    Windows backup tools have been a weak point for as long as there has been Windows, but the systems Microsoft seems to be promoting to replace it are half-measures at best.