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As you might have already heard, Windows 7 does not have an email client. Those rumors are quite true. It does not have the equivalent of a free email client like Outlook Express in earlier Windows versions or Windows Mail in Vista. Windows 7 has dropped not only email but some other applications as well. These are Windows Mail and Outlook Express, Photo Gallery, and Movie Maker. These have been dropped in the new operating system, and users are expected to download the equivalent package from the Microsoft Windows Live suite.
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Windows Live Mail
One convenient thing is if you had an older Hotmail or MSN login and password, you can continue to use them for Windows Live services. To start using Windows Live Mail, you need to login. After logging in, you are informed that you can download a lot of applications including Messenger, Mail, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker beta, Family Safety, and a toolbar. Additional programs that you can download include MS Outlook connector, Office Live Add-in, and MS Silverlight. The page also informs you that with Windows Live Mail, you can actually combine the mail services from Hotmail, Gmail, and Yahoo. For the Yahoo services, you need a Yahoo! Plus account.
Windows Live requires a fairly large download, about 179 MB as of now. Messenger and mail functionalities have been talked about already. The Outlook connector lets you connect the Windows Live Mail service to the email client of Microsoft, Outlook 2003 or 2007, to manage Windows Live Hotmail, Office Live mail accounts, email messages, contacts, and the calendar. The calendar is capable of showing you the schedules of your messenger buddies also. The mail system also has a newsgroup and feed reader. With the addition of the toolbar, you’ll have quick access to all the downloaded applications including mail, calendar, and photos.
One of the possible reasons Microsoft is following this strategy is that they expect a large number the users will start using their online services such as online documents, photo sharing, calendar, and IM. Quite a few users have broadband Internet connections and are likely to start such services which are free for now. On the minus side, though, the PC when unpacked and installed is not as complete as you are used to with the earlier generation XP and Vista machines!
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Additional Features of Windows Live
In addition to Mail, Windows Live also offers some other useful features:
- The Photo Gallery of Windows Live provides the means for the online photo editing, viewing, organizing, and sharing of your photographs with others. The edit functions let you stitch together a panorama if you have the component photos.
- The Writer gives you an online tool to create blog posts that may include photos, maps, and other rich content. You could add tags to make them easily searchable. You should be able to post the entries to most of the popular blog sites such as Windows Live, Wordpress, Blogger, Live Journal, and TypePad.
- Family Safety gives you control over what sites and contacts are allowed or blocked for other users of your home computers. This allows parents to put parental controls on their family computers.
- Silverlight will add enhanced experience to slideshows and videos. This will also give you the power to experience enhanced media on sites that use this technology.
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Other than the hassle of downloading the stuff and a slight irritation of not finding what you expected to be readily available, Windows 7 requiring the use of online email services may not be such a bad deal. If you do have a broadband connection, then having the mail services, office productivity tools, and the other enhancements online could just be quite convenient. One major hassle is taken away: you do not need to worry about proper back-up, which would have to be taken care of by you. Even if your machine goes down, nothing would happen to your documents and mail. You may have some privacy concerns and a little paranoia about letting go of the control of you business communications via email or office documents, but such offerings look quite good nonetheless.