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Microsoft Live Essentials

In Pictures: 20 Must-Download Utilities For Windows 7
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Microsoft Live Essentials

Here's another must-have straight from Microsoft: Live Essentials (MLE). Overall, this group of apps consists of Live Call, Live Family Safety, Live Mail, Live Messenger, Live Movie Maker, Live Photo Gallery, Live Sync, and Live Writer.

Additionally, Microsoft Office Outlook Connector, Office Live Add-In, the Bing Toolbar, and Silverlight (the company's answer to Flash) are also considered to be part of Windows Live Essentials, although they're separate downloads.

The good news is that everything in MLE is free. But again, as with Security Essentials, consumers will need a valid copy of Windows installed in order to download and install.

As for the actual applications, here's a brief rundown: Live Call does VoIP by way of Messenger and Telefonica's Voype service. Live Family Safety should speak for itself, providing means to block questionable content from younger surfers. Windows Live Mail basically replaces Outlook Express, while also serving as an RSS feeder. Live Movie Maker has received a hefty face-lift since it's days in Windows XP, and Windows Live Writer is merely a blogging tool that can access Windows Live Spaces, SharePoint, Blogger, WordPress, and more.

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