I’ve never been a fan of browser toolbar add-ons, but somehow my home machines always end up full of them. One of these days people will get fed up with software packages that install other “junk” and complain, but until then I’m used to periodically uninstalling them.
That said, I’ve never had the Windows Live Toolbar installed by “something else”. It gets delivered through Windows Live Essentials (http://download.live.com); the first screen gives you a choice of which components you want to install and you can uncheck all of those you don’t want. For those of you who do any blogging, you’ve probably run this installer, as Windows Live Writer is one of the best blog editors I’ve ever used (and now the only one I ever use). But the installer has some other nice pieces:
The last Windows Live Essentials install I let it install all of the pieces just to see what’s changed, and I even took some time to check out the new toolbar. There are a few features that I really like, enough so that I’ll probably keep it around (especially since it doesn’t take up very much screen real estate):
The first two items are enough to convince me to leave the toolbar around – for a while at least. Maybe Internet Explorer 8 will eliminate the need. It already has a “Translate with Windows Live” accelerator so you can just right-click on the web page and choose that option. It also has a “Map with Windows Live” accelerator, but that requires that you first select the address text. There are also some other helpful accelerators, like “Define with Encarta” to look up definitions of words. It’s an extensible system, so you can add more (from http://www.ieaddons.com/en/accelerators/ or other sites) without having to give up screen real estate. So that’s looking like it will be the long-term direction.