Windows Live Essentials was a very popular suite of apps which included programs like Windows Live Writer, Family Safety, Movie Maker, Photo Gallery, SkyDrive etc. Since Microsoft abandoned the Live brand name, Windows Live Essentials became Windows Essentials.
The complete suite of Windows Essentials was almost abandoned by Microsoft after 2012 because an update to the suite was releases very rarely. Microsoft has once again released a minor update to Windows Essentials 2012. The version of Windows Essentials becomes 16.4.3522.0110. The major version still remains at 2012.
Windows Essentials 2012 programs will run on Windows 7 (32-bit or 64-bit versions), Windows 8.1 (32-bit or 64-bit versions), Windows Server 2008 R2, or Windows Server 2008 with Service Pack 2 and the Platform Update for Windows Server 2008, or Windows Server 2012. Additional installation requirements might be necessary to run Windows Essentials 2012 on Windows Server or N SKUs.
For GIF animations, you will need to have hardware rendering enabled instead of the software rendering. Movie Maker and Photo Gallery must be installed together. You can’t install one of them separately as they share quite a few features together.
If you are using Windows 8.1 then you don’t need to install Family Safety app as it has been integrated within Windows 8.1.
Microsoft SkyDrive has been replaced by OneDrive. The app remains the same with all its features. Only the name has been changed to OneDrive.
When I installed the new Windows Essentials 2012, I was given a choice of installing Windows Live Messenger which should not be the case as it will not work any way. You will need to download and install Skype instead for using it as an instant messenger.