One important feature that you might have noticed after purchasing a new PC running Windows 7 or upgrading your current PC is the lack of any email program included with the operating system. In order to rectify this, you can download a set of programs called Windows Live Essentials. This is a package of free programs from Microsoft which includes an email program Windows Live Mail, a Photo editing program Live Photo Gallery, a program to construct and make videos Live Movie Maker, the Live Messenger program, Live Writer which is a blogging editor for composing and publishing to your blog, Windows Live Mesh and also Family Safety to help you keep track of any family members usage when they use the computer.
You don’t have to install all of the programs if you don’t need them. For example I don’t bother installing Live Mesh or Family Safety because we have no one using the computer who is not an adult, and I only have one PC so I don’t need to ‘sync’ with any other equipment. Each of the included programs can be used separately but they do work better together as a complete suite. In following posts I will be taking a look at each of these free programs to show you what I consider are their most useful features for the average computer user. We’ll take a look firstly at Windows Live Mail, followed by Live Messenger and then Live Photo Gallery, Live Movie Maker and finally the program I am currently using to do all of these blog posts and that I personally would not be without, Windows Live Writer.
The new versions all make extensive use of the Ribbon interface, first seen in Office 2007, and employed across most of the Live Essentials suite to help all users, no matter what their level of expertise, be able to easily find and access all of the included features easily using just one click in order to do so. It really does not matter if you aren’t familiar with the Ribbon Interface or have used it in its Office incarnation because it is so intuitive to use that even a novice will feel right at home. Here are some screen shots of all of the different ribbon interfaces for each of the Windows Live Essentials programs so that you can see how each one works and how all the important features of each program are so easily accessible for the user.
As you can see, each ribbon features the items that most users are likely to need and each ribbon includes those items that are most relevant to whatever the user needs at that particular time. Photo Gallery and Movie Maker ribbons for example contain those services that you most likely need to access in order to share either your photos or your new Video including SkyDrive, Facebook, Flickr and YouTube, whilst Live Mail’s Home ribbon includes all the main items that you need to use when reading or writing your emails. Live Writer’s Home Ribbon resembles Words ribbon in many ways because it needs to include a choice of fonts, headers etc for the composition of your blog post. We’ll be taking a look at each of the relevant ribbons as we work our way through each of the programs in question.
One program missing the ribbon is of course Live Messenger where the ribbon interface cannot really be applied or is really necessary. Instead, Live Messenger becomes a Social application as well as a desktop messaging program, where you can now have access to all of your social feeds from Windows Live, Facebook, Wordpress, MySpace and any other Social Network that you may happen to use. It also incorporates Facebook Chat so that you can chat not only with your Messenger friends but also those on Facebook.