Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

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Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:35 am

I'm sorry if this seems like a bit of a troll post, and I'm not intending to have an argument with someone who feels differently from how I do about it, but I just wonder - does anyone here make extensive use of many or all of the Windows Live Essentials components?

In my line of work (computer fixing for home users and businesses), in the process of performance-tweaking, I encounter Windows Live Essentials on customers' machines probably on about 75% of my appointments (most of the time it has been bundled with the computer when purchased), and of the customers I ask whether I can get rid of any or all of it, 99% of the time either the whole collection of software is removed or everything but Windows Live Messenger.

One unfortunate point is that most people don't pay attention to the options they're given when installing a piece of software. A customer yesterday was a clear-cut example of that when Limewire (inc. Shopper Reports and Hotbar by default) was installed by the customer's daughter, and then IE crashed on open. I can understand why Limewire does things like this, but why the hell does Microsoft push so much unnecessary stuff without enough explanation of what it is/does?

Also, Windows Live Essentials enables Microsoft Update, which brings a hell of a performance hit on Windows XP machines (mostly on startup but also in memory usage generally), and I'm pretty sure it does similar things on Vista/7 as well. With Windows Live Essentials, I think that this monolithic update system is enabled purely for Microsoft Silverlight (I've checked the update logs on a few customers' machines, and the only thing that wouldn't be covered by Windows Update are Silverlight updates).
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:42 am

When you install it, there are checkboxes for everything so you can either install or not install them. I use Live Mail, Photo Gallery, Messenger and I used the Blog Writer stuff once or twice (but I don't blog). The programs are fairly high quality, and I really like them.

Its not crapware in the sense of toolbars and coupon printers etc. They're all useful programs to people that would use them. Its like saying Office installs crapware because you don't use PowerPoint, OneNote, Access or Groove. You only wanted Word and Excel, so only install those things. The other programs are fabulous, IF YOU NEED THEM. Just that most people don't.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 7:56 am

I'd label it as crapware for the simple fact that I've run into so many problems trying to remove it. Of the 4-5 times I've tried to uninstall it the process failed 3 times leaving me with a Live Essentials entry in programs and features that wouldn't go away.

searching "can't uninstall live essentials" gets me 92,200 hits so I'm obviously not the only person who experiences this!
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:01 am

Yeah, I did the checkbox thing. I put on Live Mail, Photo thing and the Movie Maker.

I don't use anything but Mail very often, but they do no harm. I never have had any issues with uninstalling them either.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 8:02 am

Corrado wrote:When you install it, there are checkboxes for everything so you can either install or not install them. I use Live Mail, Photo Gallery, Messenger and I used the Blog Writer stuff once or twice (but I don't blog). The programs are fairly high quality, and I really like them.


I did comment about the fact that one gets options to install the additional bits, just that the average person unfortunately doesn't pay attention to them, and I intended to imply that perhaps the additional bits should obviously be labelled as such and perhaps unticked by default.

Its not crapware in the sense of toolbars and coupon printers etc. They're all useful programs to people that would use them. Its like saying Office installs crapware because you don't use PowerPoint, OneNote, Access or Groove. You only wanted Word and Excel, so only install those things. The other programs are fabulous, IF YOU NEED THEM. Just that most people don't.


Actually, WLE comes with a browser toolbar by default :) I wouldn't mind it so much if it was just a case of additional programs that don't have any effect on system performance, but adding Microsoft Silverlight (for which you don't get an option, it gets installed with another component that you do get an option for), the Windows Live Toolbar and Search Enhancement service (why the hell is a web site search tool installed as a service?!? is that really necessary?) and Microsoft Update just pisses me off.

I have one customer who uses Windows Live Mail. It looked like a cross between Outlook Express and Windows Mail for Vista (in the options window particularly). Does it have much that its predecessors don't?

- in reply to the post about uninstall failures, that hasn't happened to me, I'm glad to say :)
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:02 am

It's not crapware. it's just good stuff you don't use.

MS is way too smart to put out crapware when it's almost 2011.

Geez, any retard in marketing would know by now that crapware ruins brand equity.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:06 am

mph_Ragnarok wrote:It's not crapware. it's just good stuff you don't use.

MS is way too smart to put out crapware when it's almost 2011.

Geez, any retard in marketing would know by now that crapware ruins brand equity.


Except for that stupid Bing toolbar when I install Java updates. Every freaking update.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:20 am

TheEmrys wrote:Except for that stupid Bing toolbar when I install Java updates. Every freaking update.

Your fault for choosing to install it. Every freaking time.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:24 am

mph_Ragnarok wrote:It's not crapware. it's just good stuff you don't use.

MS is way too smart to put out crapware when it's almost 2011.

Geez, any retard in marketing would know by now that crapware ruins brand equity.


I can hardly argue with the weight of evidence you've provided. Wow, you really got me there. It almost makes me entirely forget the points I made, as well as the amount of crap on the average PC laptop from major high-street retailers.

:roll:

Laptops - Sony got singled out in the last couple of years in a major review of PCs as having the largest amount of unnecessary software slowing down the machine on startup. Also, I once encountered a brand-new Acer laptop, 512MB RAM, WinXP, belonging to a pensioner who is too afraid to put anything on the machine herself, that was so loaded with unnecessary Acer software that it used up all the memory, and uninstalling the software resulted in about 300MB RAM free. That was three years ago.

But of course, any retard in marketing would know by now that crapware ruins brand equity, that's why no-one does it any more. :o

- edit - Re: Java - why is an update (probably a security update) offering to put on additional unnecessary software? It's the reason why I do everything I can to avoid Java.

Furthermore, Microsoft is still silently installing Firefox add-ons with .net framework updates. Geez, any marketing moron... yeah.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:34 am

mph_Ragnarok wrote:Geez, any retard in marketing would know by now that crapware ruins brand equity.

I think you're giving the retards in marketing way too much credit. If what you're saying was really true, then pre-built PCs from major OEMs wouldn't come with so much crapware and trialware preloaded on them.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 9:42 am

Don't know if I'd be that concerned about your clients installing all of it by default. After all, it was all installed (in one form or another) in XP/Vista, Microsoft just removed it for Win7. And had it not been for the EU and their silly anti-trust (forcing Microsoft to remove features, it all would have been there anyways. So I really don't see what the issue is.

That being said, I'd fully expect all of the check boxes to be checked by default. Every other program does it, so why shouldn't Microsoft? When I install Foxit Reader, it comes with the install Google toolbar and some other option checked as well. So again, I'm not seeing what the issue is. And even if your client did install everything, it's not like Live essentials is bloated, a resource hog, takes a lot of space or is annoying (pop-ups) or screams for attention.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 10:00 am

IMO the "Well, everyone else is doing it too!" defense just doesn't wash.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:26 am

just brew it! wrote:IMO the "Well, everyone else is doing it too!" defense just doesn't wash.


Hear hear.

Users should pay attention to what they're doing, yes, I agree completely. However, they shouldn't have to pay attention because a legitimate, normal company is trying to put stuff on their machine that they don't want. An average person should be able to trust say Microsoft or Sun Microsystems (now Oracle in the case of Java) or Adobe that when they want to install software 'X', that the company shouldn't be trying to shovel 'Y', 'Z' or more, even though it isn't directly related to what the customer wanted.

Unfortunately, I think Microsoft won't ever try to do anything to address this (try leading by example to begin with! Possibly also publicly criticise other companies for doing things that hurt Windows as a platform?), and I think that may lead to Microsoft falling by the wayside. Oddly, I think Apple will do the opposite and result in the same damaging effect to their platform - ban everything that doesn't fulfil their requirements and end up with no software support.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 11:40 am

I use Windows Live Mail just got version 11 this morning. Part of it is what you are used to but I have always liked microsofts mail program better than any other program. I used Outlook Express for years with no issue. Live mail 11 groups emails by conversation which is cool. Haven't really looked at any other features of it yet.

For quick hacked together movies windows movie maker works fine. Never used another program had no need to because movie maker does what I need it to do. I don't have any of the other live essentials installed. I have no need for them. When it comes to programs installing other programs when you install them that spins me into a state of pissed off that rarely ever happens. Toolbars of any kind piss me off more than any other single type of software I can't stand them.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:11 pm

just brew it! wrote:IMO the "Well, everyone else is doing it too!" defense just doesn't wash.


I'm not defending that approach, just saying that Microsoft isn't alone. I just remembered while writing this the big kerfuffle Apple had a while back when they installed Safari with an itunes update. If I remember correctly (and it's possible I don't), you didn't even have the option of deselecting Safari, they forced it on you. If so, that's Apple making Microsoft look good!
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:25 pm

Sargent Duck wrote:... If so, that's Apple making Microsoft look good!

You say that like it is surprising. When it comes to "Big Brother knows best" type issues, Apple does it all the time.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 12:47 pm

[quote="mikeymike]Actually, WLE comes with a browser toolbar by default :) I wouldn't mind it so much if it was just a case of additional programs that don't have any effect on system performance, but adding Microsoft Silverlight (for which you don't get an option, it gets installed with another component that you do get an option for), the Windows Live Toolbar and Search Enhancement service (why the hell is a web site search tool installed as a service?!? is that really necessary?) and Microsoft Update just pisses me off.

I have one customer who uses Windows Live Mail. It looked like a cross between Outlook Express and Windows Mail for Vista (in the options window particularly). Does it have much that its predecessors don't?

- in reply to the post about uninstall failures, that hasn't happened to me, I'm glad to say :)[/quote]

Silverlight is just a plugin. Its just like Flash. Again, train your customers to not just blindly click next next next. The Bing Toolbar sucks, but then again, I didn't install it. Ignorance is NOT an excuse.

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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:05 pm

just brew it! wrote:
mph_Ragnarok wrote:Geez, any retard in marketing would know by now that crapware ruins brand equity.

I think you're giving the retards in marketing way too much credit. If what you're saying was really true, then pre-built PCs from major OEMs wouldn't come with so much crapware and trialware preloaded on them.


And not just the consumer stuff, it seems. I was working a temp job this summer where I was responsible for prepping laptops for field teams, and a number of those laptops were brand-new Latitudes and Precisions from Dell. The first thing to come off those was WLE, and the second was Roxio's awful CD burning software. Not to mention the bloated, redundant, non-functional system-management suites that most of the OEMs insist on having. Granted, it's not as bad as the consumer PCs still are, but I'd have expected better with a laptop intended for business users.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:18 pm

Corrado wrote:Silverlight is just a plugin.


I wish people would read what I wrote - WLE enables Microsoft Update, which causes quite a bit of startup slow-down and extra memory usage, at least it does on XP, and I'm fairly sure it does on Vista/7 too. From what I've seen, the only thing out of WLE that gets updated by Microsoft Update is Silverlight. A 300MB update process for the sake of a browser plug-in. Thank you, no.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 1:28 pm

Thrashdog wrote:
just brew it! wrote:
mph_Ragnarok wrote:Geez, any retard in marketing would know by now that crapware ruins brand equity.

I think you're giving the retards in marketing way too much credit. If what you're saying was really true, then pre-built PCs from major OEMs wouldn't come with so much crapware and trialware preloaded on them.


And not just the consumer stuff, it seems. I was working a temp job this summer where I was responsible for prepping laptops for field teams, and a number of those laptops were brand-new Latitudes and Precisions from Dell. The first thing to come off those was WLE, and the second was Roxio's awful CD burning software. Not to mention the bloated, redundant, non-functional system-management suites that most of the OEMs insist on having. Granted, it's not as bad as the consumer PCs still are, but I'd have expected better with a laptop intended for business users.


Oh yes, Dell's network diagnostic from a few years ago :) Another personal favourite for crapware of the century are these music collection management database setups, Sony has one on theirs that requires a couple of services and MS SQL DE on there as well. What's wrong with Winamp or WMP?

Dell and Talktalk's "support software" is pretty beefy as well. Well, less beef, more rind :)
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:08 pm

mikeymike wrote:Another personal favourite for crapware of the century are these music collection management database setups, Sony has one on theirs that requires a couple of services and MS SQL DE on there as well.

Yeah, installing a full-blown database server back-end just to manage your MP3 collection is a little ridiculous. IMO it is a symptom of a broader problem: today's CS college curricula teach a bunch of random tools and skills without ever teaching how to choose the right tool for the job. So you get applications where the developer has done the software equivalent of using a rocket propelled grenade to swat a fly.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:33 pm

mikeymike wrote:
Corrado wrote:Silverlight is just a plugin.


I wish people would read what I wrote - WLE enables Microsoft Update, which causes quite a bit of startup slow-down and extra memory usage, at least it does on XP, and I'm fairly sure it does on Vista/7 too. From what I've seen, the only thing out of WLE that gets updated by Microsoft Update is Silverlight. A 300MB update process for the sake of a browser plug-in. Thank you, no.

Heaven forbid people want to keep their machines reliable and secure :roll: I know of 2 computers that had the CPU bug in XP, but that got fixed with a patch that rolled out via Windows Updates. Have had 0 problems with Vista or Win7.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 3:41 pm

Usacomp2k3 wrote:
mikeymike wrote:
Corrado wrote:Silverlight is just a plugin.


I wish people would read what I wrote - WLE enables Microsoft Update, which causes quite a bit of startup slow-down and extra memory usage, at least it does on XP, and I'm fairly sure it does on Vista/7 too. From what I've seen, the only thing out of WLE that gets updated by Microsoft Update is Silverlight. A 300MB update process for the sake of a browser plug-in. Thank you, no.

Heaven forbid people want to keep their machines reliable and secure :roll: I know of 2 computers that had the CPU bug in XP, but that got fixed with a patch that rolled out via Windows Updates. Have had 0 problems with Vista or Win7.


Windows Update and Microsoft Update are two different services. Windows Update, being a reasonably efficient update facility for the operating system, I have no problem with, and I recommend having it fully enabled. Microsoft Update on the other hand, updates the operating system and a load of other Microsoft software, such as Microsoft Office and apparently Silverlight. If you go on the premise that someone just has (in terms of MS software) Windows + Silverlight, then wouldn't you agree that an extra 250MB memory usage for the update process (as well as the increased startup time) of a single browser plug-in is a little excessive?

WLM definitely doesn't get managed by Microsoft Update, it just prompts you to download a new version of the software periodically.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 4:27 pm

Mike or others, could you briefly explain the details? It's not very google-able.

How do I measure mem use for Microsoft update? It runs under svchost, not it's own process?
How do I disable?
How do I manually get these updates later? Any reccomendation how often?

This may be just what the doc ordered for the old Athlon and Celeron boxes.

Thanks!
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:06 pm

Disabling Microsoft Update strikes me a bit like disabling UAC. Nothing good can come of this line of discussion. Well, I guess it might be a good discussion if you're looking to expand your bot empire.

300MB? Is there some piece of context you left out? Vista and 7 don't use 300MB for Microsoft Update. I doubt XP does either, but I'll certainly double check tomorrow.

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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:14 pm

axeman wrote:Why is .NET 4.0 an "optional update"?

So it should never appear in MS/WIN Update unless something on the box is calling for it? Ya know, you can easily disable automatic and then click that little box that says "never show this update again". Y'all act as if we're back in the days of tiny hard drives with space allocation issues. As for the startup issue, that's simple. I might restart this box once a month at most.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:18 pm

axeman wrote:but if MS update is hogging resources on XP, the voices in my head tell me MS is doing it on purpose to push people towards upgrading.

Whoa, Fry, take off the tinfoil hat. Besides 300MB when people have 2GB or 4GB as a default (even on XP) these days is a doddle. You sound like one of the old school autoexec.bat/config.sys tweakers back in the QEMM days, trying to move as much as possible to High Memory to create more room in the MS-DOS 640KB.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Wed Oct 27, 2010 5:37 pm

You sound like one of the old school autoexec.bat/config.sys tweakers back in the QEMM days, trying to move as much as possible to High Memory to create more room in the MS-DOS 640KB.


I actually had questions on my A+ Exam for managing/manipulating himem.sys and emm386.exe. I think my age is showing.

As for 300MB, you need to recognize that is srs bzns. 256MB would require me to spend $4K USD to obtain four 64MB non-parity 72-pin fast page DRAM SIMMS. Good thing my phone book sized tome of Computer Shopper helps make finding vendors easy.

There are so many people in the IT field today who don't even have a concept of those things. Lucky for them.

Having plenty of RAM is a bad excuse for using it unnecessarily.


I don't mind people tweaking, but I do have to start drawing a line at disabling security features to save RAM and MS Update is a security feature as far as I'm concerned. We don't need another bot on the interweb because the user downloaded Word Viewer or PowerPoint Viewer and then got pwned from some ancient exploit that didn't get patched due to some RAM needing to be saved.
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:55 am

zqw wrote:Mike or others, could you briefly explain the details? It's not very google-able.

How do I measure mem use for Microsoft update? It runs under svchost, not it's own process?
How do I disable?


It's under svchost. On XP, to disable Microsoft Update:

Start IE.
Tools > Windows Update
If you have Microsoft Update enabled, the Microsoft Update site will eventually appear. You may need to install an add-on if you've never been to the site before.
Once the add-on has loaded, you can click on 'change settings' on the left side.
When the page has loaded, at the bottom of the main frame there's an option to disable Microsoft Update in a grey area.

How do I manually get these updates later? Any reccomendation how often?


That depends on what Microsoft products you use, Office being the tricky one as its update system of choice is Microsoft Update. You could temporarily enable Microsoft Update every so often (once a week/month?), pull down the latest Office updates, then disable Microsoft Update (note: this does not disable Windows Update).

Also note that Office 2002/XP is still receiving security patches.

This may be just what the doc ordered for the old Athlon and Celeron boxes.


Assuming that they're running Windows XP, the behaviour that I would expect to see is that on startup, when the update system kicks in, there will be intense disk activity for about two minutes (depending on the spec of the machine and security software), and memory usage for svchost will hit a peak. The peak depends on your configuration, I think Office 2007 causes the largest peak in Microsoft Update memory usage, and I've seen the svchost process hit 300MB on Vista, but on XP I would expect it to hit around 200MB. When it calms down, svchost's memory usage is still much higher than it is on Windows Update, on XP I would expect it to idle at around 100MB. So on Windows XP, in exchange for disable Microsoft Update, I would expect to gain about a minute in startup time performance (as in, the machine starts up completely and disk usage settles down a minute sooner), and on idle about a 100MB gain in free memory. On an ageing 512MB machine this can make a huge different in a user's impression of how quick their machine is.

At this point I would expect someone to pipe in "why don't you upgrade their memory, 512MB is never enough for Windows XP, I recommend at least 2GB (or whatever)". Even with extra physical memory, Microsoft Update takes ages on Windows XP to finish its routine, and if I can trim a system down to say 200MB memory usage (180MB is what I aim for, that's using Avast free as the anti-virus), that leaves the average user with plenty of resources to work with, the machine starts quickly, and another 512MB RAM is unnecessary. Extra memory costs money, and most people prefer not to spend money that they don't need to spend, and if I can't demonstrate an obvious performance difference, it's difficult to make a sale. Some customers need more memory, sure, and it's easy enough to demonstrate then.

On Windows Vista as I've said already, I've seen svchost's memory usage get up to 300MB with MS Update enabled. I think it hits about 100MB peak with just Windows Update, however with Windows Vista it is very difficult to monitor when it has finished its update routine, though next time I have a Vista machine at home to play with, I'll try monitoring its process's disk I/O with Process Explorer.

I've got Office 2007 on my own machine (Windows 7), but I use OpenOffice. I have Microsoft Update enabled here and yet the startup time on my machine is the best I've seen, and the svchost in question uses up about 21MB RAM at the moment, so I can't complain about that :)
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Re: Windows Live Essentials, crapware quotient?

Postposted on Thu Oct 28, 2010 1:58 am

axeman wrote: Default install of Windows 7 is clean, default install of Live Essentials, crapfest. Thumbs up!


WLE does not on a default install of Windows 7. If you wish, I can show you a screenshot of Windows Update showing WLE as an optional download. I haven't had to remove it from my machine, nor any machine I've installed with Win7.

It's not even on Vista. A new install of Vista has 'Download Windows Live Messenger' as a link in the Start menu, and again it's under optional Windows Updates.

XP has Windows Messenger only, which I routinely disable (if customers use MSN messenger, they have the latest version - if they don't, they have this on the systray :-)), but that is actually reasonably quick and efficient.
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