Windows Live is a set of services partly comprising online in-browser applications and partly desktop apps. It aims to offer integrated e-mail, instant messaging, photo sharing, blog publishing and security services. To work with Windows Live you need to have an ID, which you are offered to create upon the first start of any of its components, be that mail, messenger or any other.
This set of programs consists of: Family Safety, Mail, Mesh, Messenger with Messenger Companion, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery and Writer. Let's have a short look at each of those.
Family Safety allows you to set up parental controls on your computer helping you to provide safe browsing for your children. Assuming that Windows accounts are already created for your children, you just need to follow several steps in the program and set up specific properties for each account. You do not have to create separate Windows Live IDs for kids.
Windows Live Mail can work with various mail domains collecting all emails in one place. The desktop client provides you with mail and a calendar, which can serve as a daily planner. Its interface resembles that of Outlook, which makes it very easy to use if you have already worked with Outlook.
Windows Live Mesh is a service that provides file sharing and synchronization. Besides, you can remotely access your computer via the Internet using this app. Synchronization can be done between computers (PC-to-PC) or between your computer and Cloud (PC-to-Cloud). You can also synchronize settings for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office between multiple computers.
Messenger (a Voice-over-IP client) and Messenger Companion provide file- and webpage sharing with friends on Windows Live. You can share links, comment on them and exchange instant messages. It should be noted that Messenger Companion works only with Internet Explorer, being an add-on for it.
If you are an active Movie Maker user you might have noticed that it is not pre-installed into Windows 7, unlike the previous versions of OS. It is now accessible through Windows Live as well.
Photo Gallery provides easy photo- and video sharing through SkyDrive, Facebook and other online services found in the upper bar of the program’s interface. The application allows you to give titles and descriptions to photos, assign them to places through geotags and more.
Windows Live Writer is a desktop tool for bloggers. It can publish to popular blogging services directly, making the way to a finished article a bit shorter.
The only disadvantage that I could find in Windows Live is that to use it to the full you need friends who use it as well, as Messenger does not support any other VOIP protocols. If this aspect is not a problem for you - enjoy the set of software provided by Windows for free as it is a useful tool if you are an active user of Microsoft services and software.