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Microsoft is in the process of phasing out Windows Essentials, formerly known as Windows Live Essentials. Microsoft has included Modern-style replacements for many of the Essentials applications in Windows 8 – email, calendaring, contacts, messaging, photo management, and cloud file storage are all built in. However, some Windows Live Essentials applications have no Modern equivalent, and you may want to the desktop versions of some applications.
Microsoft has come full-circle – after including many of the Windows Live Essentials apps in Windows Vista, they were removed in Windows 7 and available as a separate installer so that Windows 7 could be a more lightweight, minimal operating system. They’re now being integrated back into Windows 8 by default.
New Windows 8 Apps
Microsoft wants the pre-installed Windows 8 apps to take the place of the older, desktop-based Windows Live applications. You’ll find the following replacements pre-installed on Windows 8:
- Mail: Microsoft’s Mail application connects to Outlook.com, Hotmail, Gmail, Exchange, and IMAP accounts. It takes the place of Windows Live Mail.
- Calendar: Windows Live Mail included integrated calendar support, but calendaring is now available in a separate application. It can sync with the calendars linked to your Microsoft account, Google Calendar, and other calendar services.
- People: Windows Live Mail’s address book is now the People application. In addition to being an address book, it can connect to services like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to bring together your contacts in one place.
- Messaging: The messaging application works with Microsoft’s Messenger and Facebook. It takes the place of Windows Live Messenger.
- Photos: The Photos application takes the place of the Windows Live Photo Gallery. It can view photos on your PC or SkyDrive, import photos from a camera, and access online photo services like Flickr or Facebook.
- SkyDrive: SkyDrive takes the place of Windows Live Mesh as Microsoft’s new online file storage service. Windows 8 includes a Modern app for viewing and managing your SkyDrive files.
- Family Safety: The Family Safety application has been replaced by integrated parental controls in Windows 8, which are also called Family Safety. Access Family Safety from the control panel to set time limits, restrict access to websites, and get reports on your kids’ computer usage.
You may also want to install Microsoft’s Skype application for Windows 8 from the Windows Store. Skype will soon replace Windows Live Messenger entirely.
However, if you want to edit movies, write blog posts, or sync files on the desktop, you’ll still need some of the classic Windows Live Essentials applications.
Windows Essentials For The Desktop
The Windows Essentials installer package is still available for Windows 8. It will download and install the familiar Windows Essentials desktop applications on your computer, although many applications – such as the Bing Bar, Outlook Connector, Messenger Companion, Windows Live Mesh (replaced by SkyDrive), and Family Safety (Windows 8 has integrated parental controls) have been removed.
Microsoft is de-emphasizing these applications, although several have no Modern equivalent yet. You may want to install:
- SkyDrive (desktop): Windows 8 only comes with a Modern-style SkyDrive app that allows you to view your SkyDrive and upload files in the new, Modern UI. If you use SkyDrive and want to sync files to your computer and access them in a folder – just like Dropbox – you’ll need the SkyDrive desktop application. It’s available through the Windows Essentials installer, although you can also download the SkyDrive desktop app separately.
- Windows Movie Maker: Microsoft’s easy-to-use movie editing application still has no Modern equivalent. The desktop application works fine on Windows 8 and is available from here, along with a photo gallery application that works on the desktop.
- Windows Live Writer: Windows Live Writer is a much-loved blogging application. It still has no equivalent in the new Windows 8 interface. If you want Windows Live Writer, you’ll need to install it from here.
You probably don’t want to install:
- Windows Live Mail: Don’t expect Microsoft to focus much attention on this program going forward – Microsoft would rather you use the Mail application in the Modern interface, the full Microsoft Outlook on the desktop, or their Outlook.com web interface. If you still like Windows Live Mail, you can install it and continue to use it anyway.
- Windows Live Messenger: There’s not much point in installing Messenger – Microsoft’s Messenger service will be shut down on March 15, 2013, after which this program will no longer be available. Existing accounts will be migrated to Skype, so you’ll want to install the Skype desktop app if you’d rather not use the Modern app.
Want more information about Windows 8? Download Getting Started: Your Guide To Windows 8.
Do you still use Windows Live Essentials on Windows 8, or have you found better Windows 8-style app replacements to them? Leave a comment and let us know!