Walt Mossberg

Recent Columns by Walt Mossberg

Mossberg’s Mailbox

Windows Live Email, Vista and Apple Tablets

I have just bought a new computer with Windows 7, and not only can’t I download Outlook Express, I can’t even find it. Is it there? Where?

A: Sadly, Microsoft killed Outlook Express—its free, fast and simple Windows email program—long before Windows 7 came out. In Vista, it was replaced by something called Windows Mail. Now, there’s no email program at all built into Windows 7, unless a PC maker chooses to include one. But Microsoft offers for download a free product called Windows Live Email that is the latest successor to Outlook Express. You can get it, alone or as part of a suite of free “Essentials” programs that used to be routinely part of Windows, at: windowslive.com/desktop.

I was told that Apple is developing its own version of the Kindle e-book reader. I wanted to purchase a Kindle for Christmas, but now I’m not sure whether I should wait for an Apple version.

A: I have never heard any Apple official say or hint that the company is developing a direct competitor for the Kindle, or is planning to make any dedicated e-book reader. What you may be referring to is that some Web sites have been speculating that the much-rumored forthcoming Apple touch-controlled tablet would be mainly intended to be an e-book reader. I haven’t any evidence of this either.

The iPhone and iPod Touch already can run a free Kindle app from Amazon that allows you to read Kindle e-books on those devices without needing to own a Kindle itself. And Barnes & Noble, which has also announced a dedicated e-reader, has a similar iPhone app. So I assume that any general-purpose Apple tablet would likely be able to run such an app as well and function as an e-reader—along with performing other tasks.

But that’s different than producing a dedicated reader with a screen and controls designed primarily for book reading and a companion electronic book store, something Apple currently lacks. It’s entirely possible Apple is going into the e-book business, but I know of zero hard evidence that this is the case.

Do you have any recommendations about switching an existing 64-bit laptop from Vista to Windows 7? I totally dislike Vista but I don’t know if the switch can be done.

A: Yes, it can, in most cases, unless your PC’s manufacturer for some reason isn’t supporting or recommending the upgrade of your particular model. Just make sure you get the comparable version of Windows 7 (say, 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium if you are currently using 64-bit Vista Home Premium) so you can do a direct, in-place upgrade that will allow your programs and files to remain in place.

You can also do an in-place upgrade if you opt to move up to the costlier Ultimate version. I would also advise backing up your irreplaceable personal files before you begin the process.

You can find Mossberg’s Mailbox, and my other columns, online for free at the All Things Digital web site, http://walt.allthingsd.com.

Write to Walter S. Mossberg at walt.mossberg@wsj.com

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