Windows Live: The Experience, Part 1, I Can’t Believe I Ate the Whole Thing

Swallowing Windows Live Whole

I know better than to have done this.  I really do.  In a carefree moment, I decided, "What the heck, let’s see how this integrated installation of Windows Live 2008 (beta) works out."  So I asked for it.

The inducement was pretty impressive.  Now there are a number of things I was concerned about.  One is installation of a suite of applications that I haven’t reviewed individually.  (Can you say crapware?  I knew you could.)

The other niggling concern has to do with beta and whatever that means, especially for those applications that I have and use in earlier non-beta versions.  Am I clear that I want to have beta installed, regardless of the Web tradition of perpetual beta applications? 

Still, I did want to get the latest version of Live Writer, which I am very happy with, even in beta.  And it works great with Windows Live, and why not try the complete experience?  Live it up!

When I got to the moment of choice, I did read the Release Notes.

In terms of selections and options, everything was already checked except the box for "One Care Family Safety."  There are no children in this household.  I already use Windows Live One Care and Windows Defender for computer security and privacy protections.  I don’t want to mess with that arrangement, so I left the box unchecked.

I do not want as my home page.  I don’t like those pages as my default, not even my myMSN page.  So I’ll leave my Yahoo default home page, with myMSN and lurking in my favorites.  That was the only check box I changed. 

I did see that I would get a beta version of Windows Live Messenger.  I was prepared for that.  I am hoping that the warning about "One Care Family Safety" simply doesn’t apply to me.

All of our household and home-office computers are also operated in Limited User Accounts.  We do not ordinarily operate in administrator accounts and, in particular, we don’t explore the Internet as administrators.

So when the installer started to download, I did not click "Run."  I clicked "Save" and tucked  the file away in a folder I created for Windows Live downloads, along with all of the other download copies that I keep.

I figure the installer is going to require me to be an administrator, so I will arrange that after I download the application.  I also suspect that this is not everything and it will download and install more.  I’m bending my principles to go through that, although there is some reassurance that this software is coming from and I don’t feel any more vulnerable to that than when I run Microsoft Update on a regular basis.

Stepping Into the Valley of the Shadow

I am installing on a Windows Media Center Edition 2005 system and the way I perform installations is by the following devious path:

  • I log out of my normal (LUA: Limited User Account) account.
  • I log into my administrator account
  • I use the Control Panel’s User Accounts applet to change my LUA account to an Administrator just for a while.
  • I log out of my administrator account.
  • I log back into my LUA account, which is now elevated to an administrator.

Sometimes I immediately use the LUA administrator privileges to change the account back to LUA.  This won’t have any effect until I log out of the current session.  Because I don’t know how many reboots I will need to perform, I don’t do that yet. 

The point of all of these gyrations is to make sure that installation happens under the account that I will be using the application(s) under.  If I’m lucky there will be no residual gunk that attempts to run and configure itself when I am back in my administrator account doing administrator business, none of which has any need for Windows Live in any capacity (except maybe to download updates).  I won’t know how well that works out until later.

I am now ready to locate the downloaded file in its hidey-hole.  I am close to the point of no-return.  The file is nicely identified as to source and version and I will take the plunge.

I did mention that I run OneCare.  One nice feature is that it always wants my approval before allowing a new program to access the Internet.  This happened immediately with the Windows Live Installer.  No surprise here.  I am always gratified when OneCare demonstrates its impartiality by detecting Microsoft software.  (It even allowed me to block the Windows Genuine Advantage automatic call-home service.)

Having permitted the installer to access the Internet, I now get to decide whether I am comfortable with the privileges it reserves for itself (especially the ability to update itself).

No, I did not read the terms of use.  Sometimes I do, but today I am playing fearless power user.

I’m actually happy to see that the software uses Microsoft Update.  That is the one activity where I use the Internet while an administrator, and I’m pleased that I won’t have to put up with yet another automatic-update arrangement.  That’s my hope.

At this point I expect the downloading and installation to commence.  In fact, there is more to decide.

There is this nice reminder of what is about to happen.  I don’t see any way to take action, so I am a bit puzzled.  I don’t check the "Family Safety" box, having already decided I don’t require it.  Everything else is as expected.  I am not sure what the Sign-in Assistant is.  I’m willing to learn.

I just watch this display until the installation actually happens.  I received a phone call in the middle of this, so I didn’t capture the additional times that I needed to give permission to OneCare for accepting access to the Internet as the different installs were run.

After restarting and verifying that all of the applications seem to be working fine, I also decided that it was time to upgrade my MSN installation for broadband, too.  So I went ahead with that update, which, unfortunately, ran entirely from the Web, with not even an installer for me to download and control.

One thing that I do after installing new applications in my elevated LUA account is run everything once to make sure that any special first-time operation that relies on administrator privileges has a chance to run.  I was satisfied that I had accomplished that and I restored my LUA to non-administrator privileges and continued with normal operation.

For a time.

What Others Have To Say About It

Here’s more information and some tips on Windows Live (Suite) 2008.  I didn’t need to rely on any of this.

Kip Knistern: Cleaner, Faster: First Impressions of "Windows Live 2008."  LiveSide – News Blog,, 2007-09-06.

Dare Obasanjo: The Windows Live Suite is HereDare Obasanjo’s Carnage4Life (web log), 2007-09-06

Amit Agarwal: Download Individual Installers for Windows Live ProgramsDigital Inspiration (web log), 2007-09-05.

Scott Lovegrove: 64 Bit Systems and the New Live Installer: A SolutionLiveSide – News Blog,, 2007-09-06.

Tim Anderson: Why Doesn’t SkyDrive Integrate with Office?  Tim Anderson’s ITWriting (blog), 2007-09-07

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