Windows Essentials are Dead – Part 2

Formerly called Windows Live Essentials, this great group of MS created and maintained apps died on 2017-01-10.

Introduction
As I mentioned last time, Microsoft has recently discontinued the download and support of a set of add-on apps that were formally part of its “essentials” brand, as these add-on apps were considered an “essential” part of the Windows Live experience; and while they were supported, life on the Windows side of the fence was pretty good.

Unfortunately, Microsoft killed these applications as of 2017-01-10, meaning that new installations of Windows Live Essentials are no longer possible through its web based installation program. While the installation app is available through Microsoft and via any number of download sites, any attempt to actually run the install app is met with a download error. Here is the official statement from Microsoft:

As of January 10, 2017, Windows Essentials 2012 is no longer supported on Windows 10, and is unavailable for download. Windows Essentials 2012 included Windows Movie Maker, Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Live Writer, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Family Safety and the OneDrive desktop app for Windows.

Last time, I covered almost all of Windows Essentials; and they included the following applications

  • Photo Gallery
  • Movie Maker
  • Mail
  • Windows Messenger
  • Windows Live Writer
  • OneDrive – Formerly both Windows Live Mesh and SkyDrive
  • Family Safety – Windows 7 only

While there are apps included with Windows 10 meant to replace Photo Gallery and Mail, there aren’t replacements for Movie Maker or Family Safety (the latter was meant for Windows 7, only). Windows Messenger was replaced with Skype when Microsoft purchased it; and OneDrive took on a life of its own. It’s now available as part of Windows 10 and includes 5GB of free storage. Additional storage can be purchased as part of Office 365. Users can also purchase up to 50GB of storage for $0.99 (99 cents) USD, per month.

Windows Live Writer
Most users of Windows Live Writer have a few poignant things to say about it. Thankfully, most of them are positive. In contrast, while Microsoft Word can be used to create and edit HTML files, most people that need a “real” HTML editor will tell you – actually they’ll plead with you –choose a different editor. Word inserts a lot of unnecessary – as well as other – tags in the HTML it creates, and HTML edited with it, is considered dirty and “expensive” (meaning that it requires more processing power to crunch through the unnecessary HTML tags than cleaner HTML written in a different editor). Most websites won’t use documents or articles written in Word HTML. A number of years ago, I had more than one publication turn down or reject HTML written with Word. Having a tool like Live Writer to compose and post articles directly to one or more online publications is the closest thing you’re going to have to an offline CMS for the masses.

Windows Live Writer first came out to support Windows Live Spaces. Live Spaces were Microsoft’s answer to GeoCities. GeoCities was Microsoft’s answer to Yahoo’s mass attempt at getting the world to claim their slice of the digital frontier, if you will. GeoCities was a place where just about anyone could create a website and create some kind of presence on the web. It was also an attempt at competing with additional properties like MySpace and Xanga. The big difference with Microsoft’s solution is that they provided a tool in Live writer that had a familiar WYSIWYG interface, like the one found in Word.

Live Writer made it very easy to post to Live Space. Thankfully, the app also worked with other popular blogging platforms, including WordPress, SharePoint, Blogger and TypePad, among others, meaning you can write and automatically post to sites built on these supported platforms. You can also use WLW to create HTML that may be used by other CMS’ (Content Management Systems).

Unfortunately, Windows Live Writer died with the rest of the Windows Essentials on 2017-01-10.

Open Live Writer

Thankfully, prior to its death, Microsoft decided to release the application to the open source community. Windows Live Writer was replaced with Open Live Writer; and strangely enough, the open sourced version of WLW, is completely identical to the Microsoft branded app.

Interestingly enough, the new version of the app supports the same blogging services. The only difference with OLW is that you already have to have the blog started somewhere (meaning, it has to have a URL and the ability to post articles prior to you writing one).

I’ve been using the app for just a little bit now, and quite honestly, I’m pleased and VERY relieved. When I picked up a Surface Book earlier this year, I wanted to install Windows Live Essentials on it. Unfortunately, it was after 2017-01-10, and as I mentioned previously, attempts to install after that date will be met with installation/ download errors (even though you can still download the installation program. Searching for “windows live essentials download” on your search engine of choice should bring up a number of different download links from reputable download sites all OVER the internet. Thankfully (and rightfully so), Soft32 doesn’t have it in its download catalog.

Conclusion
As an HTML editor and web article creation tool, Open Live Writer is just as effective and good at its job as Windows Live Writer was. To be very honest, those that depend on or prefer this tool to others have a great deal to be thankful for. Open Live Writer satisfies the need for a posting tool for just about any and every website out there, plus it creates some of the cleanest HTML, the same as any of the bigger, paid tools on the market.

Windows Essentials had some of the best Microsoft applets ever created. They covered a great deal of holes in the OS. With the advance of Windows to more sophisticated versions, Microsoft has finally retired the suite.

Its components may have been replaced, but can still be used, provided you already have them installed. After 2017-01-10, they can no longer be installed on any computer, regardless of operating system.

Some of their replacements can be installed and/ or used at your convenience; and if you’re curious, or interested, they’re a good move and good choice of applet to address the needs they fulfill.

Are you currently using Windows Essentials? Which version of Windows are using them on? What is it that you find most valuable about them? Are there better apps out there, in your opinion?

If there are, I need you to tell me all about it. Meet me in the Discussion area, below, and give me all the information you have. I’d love to hear it.

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Mozilla Firefox 8 cannot surpass Google’s Chrome

Lean, mean Mozilla update brings welcome improvements and enhancements.

Mozilla Firefox 8 is the latest major update to the popular web browser and includes a wealth of new improvements and features. Add-ons have long been a hallmark of the Firefox experience, allowing users to customise their browsing experience to their own preferences. The update has made a few improvements to the add-on system, including default disabling of add-ons installed by third-party programs, and a new system for managing installed add-ons. Twitter has been incorporated into the search bar in a particularly handy fashion. Tab organization has also been updated with a new preference allowing the loading of tabs on demand. This feature also helps to speed up start-up time.

Beneath the hood, the update has added in better support for HTML5, although Firefox still lags behind Chrome in this regard. Overall the update offers better performance and memory use than previously with increased graphics acceleration as well. On the downside Mozilla Firefox 8 features no built in PDF reader, flash or instant page view as can be found in Chrome, and the HTML5 support is behind Chrome. It is said that the startup speed has improved but it still lags behind that of IE9 and Chrome.

download Mozilla Firefox 8

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Mozilla continues their fast release cycle with Firefox 7

Six weeks after the release of Firefox 6, Mozilla officially released the new next version for Firefox. The seventh cycle of development confirms the rapid release schedule adopted by Mozilla this year. While there are rumors regarding the idea of shortening this cycle to only five weeks, these won’t happen too soon.

Similar to its previous version, Firefox  7 brings few notable improvements and features. The most important improvement is the memory usage optimization. It is said that Firefox 7 has reduced its memory usage by 20% and even 50% in special cases. This comes as a positive effect for the startup and page loading times, which suffered a lot in previous version.

Mozilla has also tweaked the Javascript module in order to free up memory no longer in use. In this way, they have addressed one of the oldest issues present in previous Firefox versions. No you can let the browser run as much as you want without noticing any expense in system resources. For example is enough to close unused tabs in order to free up memory, and this without the need to restart the browser.

Other subtle improvements have been done to the Firefox Sync component which now initializes the sync process for password and bookmark changes more frequently as they are modified or added. Firefox 7 also adds support for CSS3 Text Overflow method and a new measurement tool that allows web developers to identify performance improvements or flaws on their website.

Azure is the new graphical component introduced in Firefox 7 in order to improve the rendering process of Canvas present in the new HTML 5 standard. In this way Mozilla is trying to prepare its path for future worldwide changes in the HTML standard. A subtle but good change has been  applied to the address bar. Now the main domain from a web address is even more highlighted compared to the subdomain component and the “http://” prefix is not visible anymore.

Until the next new version of Mozilla’s Firefox:

download Mozilla Firefox 7 for Windows | download Mozilla Firefox for Mac

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