Windows XP came bundled with Outlook Express, and Vista included Windows Mail. Starting with Windows 7, Microsoft no longer includes an email client by default: but PC manufacturers started bundling Windows Live Essentials, a suite of free software that includes the Windows Live Mail email program. In this tutorial, we will show you how to install the latest version of Windows Live Essentials on a computer running Windows 7 or even Windows Vista (you can run Windows Live Mail alongside Windows Mail). If you are using Windows XP, you will need to get the earlier version of the freeware suite: download and install Windows Live Mail or Essentials for XP.
Tip: you may already have one or more Essentials installed on your computer - installing the latest version will update them if needed, and not erase previous settings.
Get a free copy of Windows Live Essentials for your PC
First, navigate to the official Windows Live Essentials download page (click to open the link in a new web browser tab / window).
- Once the page has loaded, click on the "Download now" button; choose "Run" when your browser has completed the download to launch the installer.
Notice that the language is automatically detected based on your computer / browser settings (English, in our case) - click "change" to pick another option like Spanish or French from the 40 languages Microsoft currently supports!
- The first step of the wizard offers two choices: let's pick "Choose the programs you want to install", if only to see all available programs (description below). • Messenger - is the free chat client that allows you to instant message ("IM") with friends on Hotmail or Facebook.
• Photo Gallery and Movie Maker - the first gives you more control over pictures than the standard Windows preview application, like sending pictures directly through your Hotmail account; Movie Maker is a fun and easy way to manipulate your home-made movies.
• Windows Live Mesh - allows you to sync your files across PC's and devices.
• Bing Bar - if selected, this option will install the Bing (Microsoft search engine) toolbar in Internet Explorer.
• Outlook Connector Pack - this special piece of software allows Microsoft Outlook to connect "natively" with Hotmail, just like Windows Live Mail does - you could use the standard "
POP3" email protocol, but would not get all features: learn more about Microsoft's Outlook Connector (including download instructions).
• Mail - this is "Windows Live Mail", the desktop email program designed to seamlessly integrate with all Hotmail features, including the online calendar.
• Writer - a rich text editor that allows you to easily create and maintain blogs from a desktop program (you can still edit your blog "live", from a web browser).
• Family Safety - is a software package that goes beyond the basic parental controls you find, for example, in Internet Explorer (though Windows 7 includes quite an elaborate setup that automatically interfaces with Windows Live Family Safety- see our Windows 7 Security tutorials for more information).
• Messenger Companion - is a social sharing plugin that installs in Internet Explorer, and lets you see which friends liked or shared websites you visit.
- Once you've checked or unchecked the checkboxes corresponding to each piece of software you want on your computer, click "Install". Depending on the programs you selected and the speed of your PC, this may take a few minutes; once the installation is complete, restart your computer.
Running your new Windows Live applications
Once you've rebooted Windows, you will find shortcuts to your new programs inside the start menu - either type the application name, or click on "All Programs": applications will be listed on their own or inside the "Windows Live" folder:
Tip: once you've installed Windows Live Essentials on your computer, Windows 7 / Vista can automatically keep them updated to their latest version, based on your Windows Updates settings. Learn how to configure Windows Updates settings in Windows Vista, or how to customize Windows Updates settings in Windows 7.
And you can now add Hotmail to Windows Live Mail: this allows you to read your emails offline, and more flexibility in managing them with a full-fledged desktop email program!
Tutorial last updated on November 29, 2011