Installing and Configuring Windows Live Essentials

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Windows Live Essentials: Installation

The Windows Live Essentials website has brief descriptions of each program. (Note: click on any image for a larger version.).

With the advent of Windows 7, Microsoft has taken a different approach with a number of free programs it used to bundle with its operating systems. Instead of automatically including things like email, instant messaging and blogging, Microsoft ships Windows 7 without that stuff -- which is a good thing, since it makes the OS smaller. But don't panic if you want those programs: They're still around, now offered as a download through "Windows Live Essentials."

Over the next several months, I'll be reviewing each of the programs included in Live Essentials. The first step, however, is download and install them. To start, surf to the Live Essentials website. The site, as you can see here, lists all the programs available for download, along with a brief description of each. Click the "Download" button on the right, which I've highlighted here in red. (Note that under the Download button is a link that says "System Requirements." Click this link to make sure your computer meets the minimums necessary to use Live Essentials.)

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Find the Live Essentials Download

Find the icon outlined in red and double-click to begin the install.

After downloading Live Essentials, click the icon that says "wlsetup-web", which is outlined in red above. At this point, Windows may ask you if you want to allow this program to make changes to your computer. Click "Yes".

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Pick Your Programs

You can choose which Windows Live Essentials programs to install.

At this point, the screen above will appear. This is where you choose which programs to install. You can choose as many or as few as you'd like. The default setting is to install all Live Essentials programs. Left-click the Install button at right to start the installation. A progress bar will appear as the programs are being installed. Obviously, the more programs you install, the longer the download will take.

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Choose Settings

You can change Windows Live Essential's default behaviors here.

After installation is complete, another pop-up appears, giving you some other settings you can choose or discard. These include setting your search provider, homepage, and to help improve Windows Live and search results. Naturally, the settings are all Microsoft-specific.

I recommend unchecking all these boxes. It basically makes Microsoft a bigger part of your computing life. I also don't think my surfing and computer use habits are anyone's business but my own, even if Microsoft doesn't use the data to personally identify me. However, the options are there if you want them.

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Start Using Live Essentials

Once installed, your programs will be in the "Windows Live" folder.

After installation of your Live Essentials programs is complete, you can find them by left-clicking on the Start button, then left-clicking "All Programs" at the bottom. You'll see a new folder called "Windows Live". Click on the folder and you'll see all your installed programs. Click on any program to fire it up.

Note that you'll need a Windows Live ID to use the programs. If you already have a Hotmail, Messenger or Xbox Live account, you already have an ID. If not, you can sign up for an ID on the Windows Live Essentials site. Click "Sign in" at the top right, then choose "Sign up" on the next page.