I’ve written a few articles about programs that are included with Windows that people sometimes overlook like WordPad and Paint. In this article, we’ll look at Windows Essentials 2012 – a great group of free downloads from Microsoft that may be just what you’re looking for if you don’t like the Mail and Photo apps included with Windows 8.1.

Windows Essentials 2012 is a suite of five programs.  You can install the entire suite or the individual programs.  The programs are Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Windows Live Writer, Windows Live Mail and OneDrive.

Go to Microsoft.com to download Windows Essentials.  Choose Download now to download and install the whole suite.

You could also choose to scroll down and click Learn more under each program to find out more about it before downloading.

After you click download, you’ll have the choice on installing the entire suite or the individual programs.

Let’s take a look at the programs.

Live Mail is an e-mail client that offers a nice set of features.

It is very similar to pre-2013 versions of Outlook or Outlook Express.

I like the appearance of Live Mail better than the very sparse Mail App that comes with Windows 8.1

 Photo Gallery can assist you in importing photos from your camera, phone or other mobile device. Using the tools, you can make quick adjustments to color and brightness and crop and straighten photos. Photo Gallery also fixes red-eye, lets you resize photos and apply effects like black and white.

You can also create slideshows and share images with friends and family.

The Windows 8.1 Photo App does many of the same functions. Photo Gallery is more mouse-mouse friendly and it allows you to resize photos, something that the Windows 8.1 Photo App maddeningly doesn’t do.

Movie maker allows you create movies using photos, videos, music and voice. It also comes with themes to assist you in putting your movies together.

You’ll need a separate DVD burning program if you want to create a movie that will play in a standard DVD player.

Windows Live Writer is a great tool for users who need to publish posts to the Internet. It allow you create blog posts and add photos and video and even a Bing map. The program will let you automatically publish those posts to whatever blogging platform you use.

I’ve written extensively about the OneDrive cloud service before and explained how it works in this article. Windows Messenger is also included in the download.

These programs work with Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

~ Cynthia.