Windows Live - an essential hassle
With Windows 7, Microsoft has removed some basic programs from the operating system and bundled them in a free download called Windows Live Essentials.
Windows Live programs include Windows Live Mail (the successor to Outlook Express), Messenger, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, Call and Writer (a blogging tool).
Microsoft says that it decided to make these programs available as a download, instead of including them with Windows 7, so that it could update the applications "without being tied to the OS upgrade cycle".
The drawback of the Windows Live Essentials download is that it adds a step to the initial Windows 7 setup process.
Given that Live Essentials are basic programs that most users will want to have at their fingertips, why not figure out a way to bundle them with new computers right out of the box?
I've never been a huge fan of gadgets, but they can be helpful for quickly checking a flight time or weather forecast.
In Windows 7, you can put gadgets anywhere on your desktop; but just as in Vista, you don't have an automatic hide option for gadgets.
Instead, to make your gadgets disappear, you have to right-click your desktop, select View and uncheck 'Show desktop gadgets'.
That's not a very convenient procedure, so your gadgets are likely to remain visible on your desktop pretty much all the time.
An automatic hide option that would enable you to make gadgets reappear with a keystroke would be a nice thing for users who value a clean desktop.
All I wanted to do was change my desktop background - not get new system sounds or a new colour scheme or a new mouse pointer.
In XP, adopting one of my own photos as my desktop background took just a few clicks; and even in Windows Vista, the process was pretty straightforward.
But Windows 7's themes take changing your desktop background to a new and unpleasant level of complication.
Themes in Windows 7 are predefined profiles that compile everything from your system sounds, screen savers, and windows colours in one place, where you can activate them with just one click.
For the most part this is a great and highly customisable feature, but one of the things people are most likely to want to change is their desktop background.
So why not make this basic act something you can do on the fly in just a few clicks, instead of the confusing rigmarole Windows 7 makes you go through now?
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