I recently found out when going to download Windows Essentials that Microsoft plans to end support for Windows Essentials.
Windows Essentials started as Windows Live Essentials as an update to the PIM applications of Windows Vista, including Cloud support (Hence the Live part).
The applications (except for Messenger, OneDrive and Family Safety of course) didn’t need to be connected to Microsoft’s Cloud services to function.
The primary idea of Windows Essentials was to be able to publish updates for these PIM apps outside of the normal Windows Release cycle which until Windows 10 was about 2 or 3 years (excluding the whole Longhorn development mess between XP and Vista).
With the release of Windows 7, Microsoft didn’t include the usual PIM apps like Mail. Photo Gallery, etc. so many computers with Windows 7 came with Windows Essentials preinstalled so those apps would be available.
Starting with Windows 8 and continuing to Windows 10, Microsoft came up with a new idea for dealing with updates to the included PIM apps, using a new app development language called the Windows Runtime.
Windows Runtime apps can be easily (in theory) installed, updated and removed without needing a reboot as they are all self contained applications.
Unfortunately, this plan has not worked out that well as:
- The Universal Apps included with Windows are primarily updated via a new Windows build instead of the built-in update functionality with requires not just a reboot but 30 to 60 minutes or so while a new build of Windows installs.
Not ideal at all.
- The included Universal Apps in Windows 8 and 10 cannot be easily removed.
You need to use the command line or third party programs to remove them and they will all be reinstalled when a new build of Windows is installed.
With Windows 7, if you got a computer with Windows Essentials and didn’t want the apps then you could easily uninstall them.
- The included Universal Apps in Windows 10 are mostly terrible, missing basic functionality and not at what I would expect from one of the largest software development companies in the world.
For example the People app doesn’t even let you sort and view contacts in groups, not only does the Windows Mail app in Windows Essentials let you do that, so does the Address Book in Outlook Express from Windows 98.
It’s really quite sad that Microsoft can’t manage to even put basic features in their Windows 10 apps that have existed for about 20 years or so in older products Microsoft made.
Also, the Windows 10 Universal Apps don’t support Libraries with Unsupported Network Locations (In short, it means the remote server isn’t running Windows Search to index the files) so if you want to view pictures or play music from a network share from a device that runs a non-Microsoft OS then you are out of luck.
Besides maintaining your own home server running Linux like I do, if someone just had NAS Device then it would also not work as to my knowledge most if not all NAS devices use a non-Microsoft OS and no other OS has a Windows Search compatible index service available.
I could actually go on and on about all the features that Windows Essentials has that the Windows 10 Universal Apps don’t have but I don’t want to be here typing forever and an article/blog post with screen shots would be a better place for it.
I’ve been wanting to do an article or blog post on this for a while but haven’t got around to it as it would take a while to do a detailed comparison of the software.
It’s also hard to stay focused when you are simultaneously angry at Microsoft and disappointed in Microsoft for the poor quality of apps they are putting today compared to what they had a few years ago.
The last version of Windows Essentials is from 2012 so I had long suspected that support for would end but I would have thought that the available replacements were much better then they are.
Some apps don’t even have replacements, here is a quote from the linked support page on Movie Maker and Live Writer:
Movie Maker will soon be available from Windows Store for Windows 10 users.
Live Writer is available as an open-source solution.
So for Movie Maker, Microsoft is going to stop supporting it before a replacement is even available and for Live Writer, I’m guessing they being the newish WordPress.com app but I don’t know for sure as they don’t even say what “open-source solution” they are talking about.
The page doesn’t mention Windows Live Messenger, probably because it was discontinued in favor of Skype a while ago.
Of which, Skype might be good for video but for Instant Messaging, it’s not only not as good as Windows Live Messenger, it’s not as good as many other Messengers as it is missing basic features like keeping a message history and selecting the folder to store it (or at least it didn’t when I last used it).
I just noticed I spent about 40+ minutes writing this post thus confirming my thoughts that this topic would take a long time to write about.
I can only imagine the time it would take for an article/blog post that would probably end up changing nothing because as Lowell said a little more then a year ago, Microsoft is Trying Really Hard to Shoot Themselves in the Foot and sadly that still rings true.