Microsoft’s Windows Live Essentials suite of downloadable applications was formally unveiled today:
The Windows Live betas we’ve been playing with for a while now have just received another refresh. As of today, the page at http://download.live.com has been updated with a new set of betas, now called the “Windows Live Essentials.” Here, you’ll find the latest versions of Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Writer, Toolbar, and Family Safety, as well as additional programs like the Microsoft Office Outlook Connector, the Office Live Add-in and Microsoft Silverlight. All the programs are available via one installer that lets you choose which programs you want installed or not installed.
If the Windows Live nomenclature is confusing in this context (since these are not Web applications), refer to Ed Bott’s elucidation:
A handful of applications that were previously included with Windows will no longer ship with the core operating system [Windows 7]. This list includes Windows Mail (known as Outlook Express in Windows XP), Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Photo Gallery. (Windows Messenger, which was included with Windows XP, was dropped from the main OS package before the debut of Windows Vista.)
The Windows 7 versions of all these programs will be offered to Windows customers as individual options in a package collectively dubbed Windows Live Essentials. That doesn’t mean they’re going to be browser-based products. They’re going to be traditional standalone Windows applications, with the crucial distinction that the primary delivery (and update) mechanism will be the Windows Live website. Each of these products has the capability to integrate with web-based Windows Live Services, but they’ll work just fine on their own.
I’m still not wild about the idea that purchasers of shiny new Windows 7 PCs will have to download Windows Live Essentials to get back to the functionality they had in Windows XP although Microsoft will undoubtedly try to get the OEMs to preload at least some portion of Windows Live Essentials.