As expected, Microsoft is ripping its Windows Essentials suite of programs off of life support. The company will cease supporting Windows Essentials 2012 as of January 10. Customers can still use the associated programs after support ends, but just like using an outdated operating system, they will be open to attacks through vulnerabilities that are not addressed by the company. Customers wanting to uninstall the programs can follow Microsoft’s directions here.
Windows Essentials 2012 includes free programs provided by Microsoft consisting of Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Windows Live Writer, Windows Live Mail, and OneDrive. The suite is provided for customers using Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10, and follows Windows Live Essentials 2011 for Windows Vista, and Windows Live Essentials 2009 for Windows XP. Like the previous two suites, the 2012 version will be pulled as a download option when support ends in January.
The Windows Essentials suite is essentially no longer needed given Microsoft’s focus on Windows 10. The latest operating system already provides built-in apps for photos, mail, and OneDrive. Customers still wanting to stay attached to Microsoft’s blog writer can use Open Live Writer, which is based on Microsoft’s tool and is free to download and use.
As for Movie Maker, there does not seem to be an official replacement in Windows 10 just yet. However, the company states the program will eventually be served up as an app for Widows 10 in the Windows Store. The company does not exactly say when, but merely states “soon.”
The Windows Live Essentials suite originally included Windows Live Messenger, which Microsoft eventually scrapped after its acquisition of Skype. The separate Family Safety program was integrated into Windows itself, allowing customers to set up restricted accounts for kids and manage them remotely through Microsoft’s website.
The downhill slope of many Windows Essentials programs seemingly accelerated with the change of Facebook’s Graph application program interface that connected Microsoft accounts to Facebook. This change broke the Facebook aspect of several Microsoft programs, which the company never did fix. Additionally, Blogger changed its authentication API, breaking Windows Live Writer’s ability to access Google’s blog site.
On a whole, Microsoft has focused on its Windows Store and offering first-party apps through that interface rather than distributing a bundle of free software. A new version of a suite has not appeared since 2012 and the company has not provided a stable update to the current suite since 2014. Microsoft reportedly released a patch in December 2015 for Windows Live Mail 2012, but that reportedly caused problems.
According to Microsoft, customers can still use Windows Live Mail when support ends, but many email providers have moved on to newer, more secure protocols that the client does not support.