Windows Live Essentials Confusion Could Dampen Windows 7 Adoption

In the irony of all ironies, a lighter weight Windows 7 could drive away users because it lacks the features of Vista. Sound implausible? Read on. A reader of my Windows 7 Will Not Sway XP Users blog post commented that he tried Windows 7 but gave up on it because Windows 7 didn't offer an email client like Vista did. Here's the reader's comment:

As all (well almost) of you guys I'm curious. I use XP (+DOS) and Vista on a dual boot system. Asus P5B.I installed Win 7000 on a 3rd HD but it lacked the principal ingredient: eMail. I had to install Office and its patriarchal Outlook -- so no thanks to MS on this one.

I would, of course, triple-boot if Win7 offered me Vista's E-mail.

In the business since the early 60's.

JG

In case you aren't familiar with this situation, the Windows applications that shipped with Vista (Windows Mail, Windows Messenger, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, Windows Writer, etc.) are not included with Windows 7. Instead these former Vista apps are now Windows Live Essentials applications that users can download for free from Microsoft. They are pretty much the same apps that shipped with Vista... just updated and now offered via download instead of pre-installed. These apps are part of the Live Essentials family because each of them includes an online component, such as posting blog posts with Live Writer, uploading photos with Live Photo Gallery, and using Windows Mail to send email. These apps are still free but they're just no longer included with Windows 7.

Understandably, our commenter (JG) checked out the Windows 7 public beta but didn't see the Windows Mail (now Windows Live Mail) client anymore and decided to take a pass on Windows 7. I'm assuming JG just didn't know that these apps are now available via download instead of being pre-installed.

Will other users do this too? Seems plausible they very well could. It's not obvious in the Windows 7 beta that users should hop online and download their needed Live Essentials apps. Will JG's situation happen enough to seriously impact the adoption of Windows 7? I doubt it. But this problem is easily solvable.

Microsoft did the right thing by clearing up the confusion between the apps bundled with Vista versus their new Windows Live Essentials counterparts. There's been an extended period where both have been available and I know I had to take a second look to figure what the difference was between them. Making the apps available via download is also the right idea because it keeps Windows 7 lighter weight, with less junk in it you don't want or may not need. It's easy enough to download the apps you want and skip the rest. For example... If you use Flickr, you probably don't care about Windows Live Photo Gallery and would appreciate it not hanging around taking up space on your system.

To solve the problem JG had, it would behoove Microsoft to do something to make it more obvious that Live Essentials apps are available, users just need to download them first using the very easy to use Windows Live Essentials installer. The Windows 7 public beta didn't do much to advertise these apps were available, creating the problem JG had. I would imagine Microsoft will include some type of splash page about the Live Essentials apps when users first boot up their shinny new Windows 7 systems. They could also put placeholders in the program's Start menu that would take them to the Windows Live Essentials download page.

Until then, check out the Windows Live Essentials apps online and download just the apps you want to use. JG, I hope you've continued reading the blog and will give Windows Live Mail running on Windows 7 a second chance.

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