Using Windows 7 With Live Downloads

Microsoft provides with a slew of downloads under the banner of Windows Live Essential Suite or WLES. Many of these were part of prior versions of Windows but to avoid any duplication as well as to make sure that the customer has the most up to date version at hand, Microsoft decided to take them out and replace them by WLES.

The bundle is made up of the a number of free applications that come with an integrated installation package (hence the word "suite"). Note that all these applications can be installed independently from one another.

Family Safety is a special feature from Windows Live which help families protect their kids online. You can, for example, limit searches, monitor and block or allow websites and decide who your children can chat with either in Windows Live Space, Messenger or Hotmail.

Note that this the Family Safety Filter must be installed on each computer your children use or otherwise, it will be ineffective.

Windows Live Messenger is the new name of MSN Messenger. This instant messaging client has already reached its 14th version and is one of the most popular IM clients around.

This new version doesn't bring much except perhaps the fact that the user's data is now automatically and seamlessly synchronised with the online section of the user's account.

Live Messenger also puts more emphasis on the social networking aspect with the user encouraged to upload photos, organise their contacts and change their online status, like on Facebook or Twitter.

Windows Live Mail is the successor of Outlook Express and Windows Mail, the mail clients that came with Windows XP and Vista respectively.

But we'd rather compare it to Microsoft Outlook as it comes with a rather calendering functionality. Since this is an application, rather than web-based service, it does not need to be constantly connected to the web, which makes it ideal for a mobile computer.

The newest member of the Live family is Live Writer which is a nifty little application that allows its users to upload photo and texts on almost any blogging service around including Blogger and Wordpress.

The great thing being that content is uploaded only when it is ready and the content presentation can be fine-tuned and tweaked just like in a proper "What You See is What You Get" (WYSIWIG) web editor.

Live Writer can also accommodate plugins that provides the content producer with extra functionality like one that adds cool Polaroid-style pictures.

Movie Maker will spare you a few blushes, allowing you to edit your rushes and create movies and slideshows from your computer.

There's a rather useful AutoMovie mode which automatically turn your videos, photos and music into a single, coherent package, adding title, credits, transitions and effects in one swoop.

Can't say that it works each and every time, but it is a life saver if you are short on time. Since Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional and Ultimate already come with DVD Maker, you will be able to export the finished product to a shiny disc and there's even an option to export to Youtube (but oddly, not to Microsoft's own MSN video player).

The last in the series of free Live download is Photo gallery. This application helps you manage your pictures efficiently using a Windows Explorer like interface with two panes.

Not only are you able to share photos but there is also an option to tag pictures and even upload them online, send them via email and order prints.

As expected, Photo Gallery integrates tightly with the rest of Microsoft's Live environment, which means that you will be able to share the photos with your friends and have access to theirs as well.

The photo editing feature is useful if you want to adjust basic characteristics like brightness or contrast. Still better than opening up Photoshop though.