What's new in the latest Windows Live Essentials update? Good question

What's new in the latest Windows Live Essentials update? Good question

Summary: Microsoft is not saying much about its latest update to Windows Live Essentials 2011, its software and services bundle meant to complement Windows.


Microsoft posted for download this week its first update to its Windows Live Essentials bundle of software and services since July 2011.

As the folks at LiveSide.net have noted, Microsoft isn't saying just about anything about this update. In the March 20 "Windows Experience" blog post which alerted users to the availability of the new bits, all that the Softies said was the "minor" update to Windows Live Essentials 2011 was ready and that it was available in 48 languages.

When I asked for specifics about the update -- which the blog post also mentioned in passing includes unnamed "critical fixes" -- I was told by a spokesperson that "this update is focused on performance and ensures all features continue working properly; it is important to keep the overall experience running well."

I asked and was told there are no new features included in the update for any of the included components. I also asked and then was told there are no new platforms supported by this update -- including Windows 8 Consumer Preview (though I have heard from various folks they are running Windows Live Essentials just fine on the CP). The Essentials bundle runs on Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 SP2 and Windows Server 2008 R2.

Those current Live Essentials users who do not choose to download the Windows Live Essentials 2011 update (the build number of which is 15.4.3555.0308 -- thanks, LiveSide!) at this time will be prompted to upgrade to the new version "in the coming weeks." Because it includes "critical fixes," the update will be required for all eligible customers, the Softies said.

Microsoft rolled out Windows Live Essentials 2011 in the fall of 2010.

The previous update to Windows Live Essentials 2011, which Microsoft rolled out in two phases starting last summer, includes Photo Gallery, Mail, Movie Maker, Messenger, Writer (a blogging tool), Family Safety (parental controls), Live Mesh (the PC-sync tool formerly known as Live Sync), the Bing Toolbar, Microsoft Office Outlook Connector, Office Live Add-in and Silverlight. The products in the Essentials suite are a hybrid of software and services.

There are other Windows Live properties that are not part of the suite, including Hotmail and SkyDrive, which are Web services that do not install software on users’ machines.

Microsoft is working on new versions of some of these Live services and software. Some of the components, like Messenger and Mail, are expected to be released as applications for/with Windows 8. Some of the functionality currently in Live Mesh is going to be integrated into the next version of SkyDrive.

Update: There have been reports of those downloading the new update having some Live Mesh issues. LiveSide has more on what's going on there if you're one of  those affected.

Update No. 2 (April 4): LiveSide finally managed to wrest more information from Microsoft about the fixes and updates that are in the latest Windows Live Essentials update. Why Microsoft was trying to keep that information secret is anyone's guess....

Topics: Operating Systems, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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  • test

    • Here is what this software should have been called

      "Windows Apps We Should Have Been Allowed To Include With The OS But Had To Remove So That OS X Could Have A Chance To Gain Marketshare Thus Making Our OS More Inconvenient For Our Paying Customers"

      On second thought, that does seem a little long.
      • OS X? Seriously?

        More like not to voilate the antitrust lawsuit brought down by the U.S. Government... MS does not care about Mac OS X and it's little market share.
      • Would like to hear about that more.

        Live Ess.. is pretty much the stuff that was included with XP and some that was included with vista...
        Live Mail (outlook express), Movie Maker..

        I don't know how removing those items caused ilife or mail to allow apple to grow market share would work. Especially when they will be offered as a windows opt update..
        Anthony E
      • Microsoft crapware

        There's nothing "essential" about Windows Live. It's the equivalent of Bing Toolbar. Another security hole in the making.

        When I take advantage of free hotmail, I always disable it and then check Control Panel for any debris left over.
  • Getting the fixes then

    Because I didn't see any new stuff, I decided not to download it but I guess because of the critical fixes I will have to.

    What I am looking forward to is the SkyDrive/Mesh integration. That is going to be cool.
  • It now says in the title bar of a MSN Chat window: <Facebook> . . .

    It now says in the title bar of a MSN Chat window: <Facebook> if you're chatting via Facebook. That's all I can spot.

    Yes it works fine with the Win8 Consumer Preview, except every time you first open Photo Gallery it asks if you wish to register file types (JPEG etc...). You click Yes or No and next time you login, re-open Photo Gallery it asks again. It's not a big deal IMO.

    Despite Win8 having Metro Messaging, People, Photos, Mail and SkyDrive apps, I still installed Windows Live Essentials. Windows Live Messenger is simply more powerful than Messaging/People, Windows Live Mail is much more powerful than the Mail app and Windows Live Photo Gallery is also much more powerful than the Photos app. There is no Metro Movie Maker app currently.

    Windows Live Family Safety is now included with Windows 8 though.
  • Something a little off topic

    I have Norton 360. I have spyware sweeper. They worked fine together for a year. I just upgraded 360 V5.0 to 6.0 . Now there is a conflict between the two. Does anyone know an Anti spyware that will work with Norton 360 V6.0. MS Essential comes with an antivirus so that won't work.
  • windows live?

    I think there was a story about Microsoft dropping the windows live name and the Zune name by the time windows 8 came out. Is that not true?