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Help File: Moving mail from Windows XP or Vista to Windows 7; Windows Vista's afterlife

By Rob Pegoraro
Sunday, October 25, 2009

Q: How do I keep my e-mail intact after upgrading to Windows 7 if Win 7's installer will first remove Outlook Express or Windows Mail?

A: For users of Microsoft's e-mail applications, this may be the most confusing aspect of Microsoft's new operating system. But it is (somewhat) easy to fix.

Go to Microsoft's Windows Live download site (http://download.live.com) now, before you try to install Windows 7, and download the installer file from there. When you run it, click to clear the checkboxes next to all of its optional components to leave only Windows Live Mail. (These add-on programs aren't all bad -- for example, I like Windows Live Movie Maker -- but you can always run the "wlsetup-web" installer again if you want to expand your inventory of Windows Live applications.)

When Windows Live Mail first runs, the new program should automatically pick up your old Outlook Express or Windows Mail messages, address-book contacts and settings.

You can do this later; Windows Live Mail brought in a set of Outlook Express mail accounts even after 7's installer had wiped out Outlook Express and all of Windows XP. But by taking care of things upfront, you eliminate one worry.

I'm happy with Windows Vista. How long can I hold out before I'll be forced to upgrade to 7?

You should be set at least through April 10, 2012, when Microsoft plans to end Vista's "mainstream support." But unless the company changes its practice, you can expect it to ship security fixes and other patches that don't add new features for about five years after that date. For example, Windows XP's mainstream support ended April 14, but Microsoft plans to continue "extended support" for that operating system until April 8, 2014.

Rob Pegoraro attempts to untangle computing conundrums and errant electronics each week. Send questions to The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071 or robp@washpost.com. Visit http://voices.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward for his Faster Forward blog.

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