Windows Essentials is a suite of free programs that has evolved a lot over the years. At first, it was named Windows Live Essentials. Now it has been rebranded to a shorter, simpler name. To make things even more confusing, the number of programs included in this suite has evolved a lot over time. That’s why, in this article, I will explain what Windows Essentials are and how to download and install the programs included in this suite.
What are Windows Essentials
Windows Essentials is a suite of free tools offered by Microsoft to Windows users. The latest version includes the following applications: Microsoft SkyDrive, Mail, Writer, Messenger, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker and Family Safety.
Messenger is being phased out and replaced with Skype. Therefore, in future updates to this suite, you will see Skype being included.
The first thing you need to know before installing Windows Essentials is if your computer meets the minimum requirements: Windows 7 or Windows 8 or Windows Server 2008 R2 installed, a minimum 1.6 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM memory or higher, a display with a minimum resolution of 1024x576 pixels. In order to use Windows Movie Maker you should have a video card that supports DirectX 9 or higher and Shader Model 2 or higher. If you computer wasn’t bought more than 4 years ago, the minimum requirements should not be a problem.
If Windows runs fine on your computer, with all its visual features enabled, then you should have no problem running the applications included in the Windows Essentials package.
How to Install Windows Essentials
Go to the Windows Essentials website and click or tap the Download now button.
The wlsetup-web.exe file is downloaded. This file serves as a downloader and installer for the Windows Essentials suite of tools.
Run the wlsetup-web.exe file to begin the installation process. You can choose to either install all the Windows Essentials tools or choose a specific subset, according to your needs. Considering that the Windows Essentials suite includes an application that is being phased out by Microsoft - Messenger and replaced with Skype, you should always go for the second option: "Choose the programs you want to install".
Now you see a list with all the available programs. If you want to install a program, check the box near its name. You will notice that Photo Gallery and Movie Maker are bundled together. You cannot install them separately, for reasons known only to Microsoft.
Press the Install button after you have selected the applications you want installed.
Next, a progress window is displayed. The installation process can take longer if you have opted to install many programs and/or if your Internet connection is slow.
Click or tap the "View details" button in order to learn more about the installation process. The completion percentage is shown, as well as the program being currently installed.
When done, click or tap Close. Unlike previous versions of this suite, a computer restart is no longer required.
The Microsoft Services Agreement may be displayed. Press Accept and you are done.
If you have chosen to install Messenger, even if this program is being phased out by Microsoft, you will also be requested to enter your Microsoft account details, so that you can sign in.
Now you can start to use the applications you have installed.
NOTE: If you want to install a non-English version of the suite, you can. Microsoft makes this suite available in about 65 languages, from German to Turkish or Romanian. You can find all the localized versions here: Windows Essentials: Worldwide Downloads. The process involved for installing and launching them is identical to the English version showcased below.
How to Start Windows Essentials Programs
The shortcuts for the programs included in the Windows Essentials suite are displayed directly on the root of the Start Menu (in Windows 7) or Start screen (in Windows 8).
There’s no special folder being created for them.
Let’s learn how to launch a program, by using Photo Gallery as an example. The quickest and easiest way to open Photo Gallery in Windows 7 is to type photo into the Start Menu search box.
In Windows 8, type photo on the Start screen and the appropriate result is displayed in the Apps list. You won’t have to finish typing photo - the correct result is displayed as soon as you have typed the second letter of the word.
Troubleshooting Windows Essentials Update Problems
If you have an older version of Windows Essentials installed, it may happen that Windows will suggest that you install the newest version via Windows Update. If the update is performed and the suite no longer works well, it is best to manually remove it. Then, restart your computer and start the installation process using the method described above.
As a rule of thumb, before installing a newer version of Windows Essentials, it is best for you to manually remove the previous version installed on your computer or device.
Now that we have answered the basic questions about the Windows Essentials suite, it is time to use it. Don’t hesitate to browse through our website and find useful tutorials to guide you in your using of these programs. If you have any questions to ask, don’t hesitate to use the comments form below.