Windows Mail for Windows 7: Unlike Windows XP and Windows Vista, Windows 7 actually ships without any email program bundled at all. If your copy of Windows 7 shipped with Windows Live Mail pre-installed, this is because your computer manufacturer decided to install it for you. But Windows Mail for Windows 7 is not an option, as we'll see and explain in this tutorial.
Windows XP and previous versions of Windows all shipped with Outlook Express built right in; Windows Vista saw the phasing out of Outlook Express, and includes Windows Mail "out of the box" (while you can still of course download and install other email programs alongside Windows Mail). But since Windows Mail was designed for Windows Vista only, and not as a downloadable product, you cannot install it on Windows 7.
For reasons somewhat unclear, Microsoft decided to ship Windows 7 without a built-in email program; at the same time, since this poses some usability problems, many computer manufacturers will pre-install Windows Live Mail, another free email client made by Microsoft, on Windows 7.
For all practical purposes, Windows Mail was essentially an upgraded Outlook Express, and the main difference (aside from an interface redesign and other minor cosmetic changes), was the addition of junk mail filters. While you can block senders in Outlook Express, Windows Mail also downloads periodically junk mail filter updates from Microsoft, through Windows Update. Windows Live Mail offers the same core functionality as Outlook Express and Windows Mail, but adds a lot more features, and Windows Live Mail is in fact the best Microsoft email program you can get for Windows XP, Windows Vista, or Windows 7 - short of purchasing Microsoft Outlook, the full-featured email program part of the Microsoft Office productivity suite (which costs about US $100 as standalone product, unlike Outlook Express, Windows Mail, or Windows Live Mail, which are all free).
Unlike Outlook Express, which was a downloadable product, Windows Mail cannot be downloaded for XP, as it ships as a core operating system component of Windows Vista. This means that you cannot get Windows Mail for Windows XP. But, the differences between Outlook Express and Windows Mail are so small, that you would gain little by upgrading from Outlook Express to Windows Mail (the notable exception of course being junk mail filters, which are not available in Outlook Express, but included in Windows Mail).
Since you can not install Outlook Express or Windows Mail on Windows 7, you are left with basically three choices: you can purchase Microsoft Outlook, which for many will not be an option. On the side of free email programs for Windows 7, you have basically two options: either stick with a Microsoft-made email application (free), in which case you will want to download Windows Live Mail, which is going to be extremely easy to use for anyone familiar with Outlook Express or Windows Mail; otherwise, you can be a bit more adventurous and try an other free email program like Mozilla Thunderbird.
Note that we dedicated a separate tutorial to help you choose an email program for Windows 7, both free (freeware/open-source) or shareware.
If you decide to stay with a Microsoft product, we believe that you will come to love Windows Live Mail; not only does it include more features than Outlook Express or Windows Mail ever did, but it is also actively maintained by the Windows Live team, a group at Microsoft who take care of this email program, the Windows Live Messenger (aka "Hotmail Instant Messenger"), the Hotmail webmail service, etc.
This concludes our tutorial on Windows Mail for Windows 7 users: you can now see that you will not miss Windows Mail, and have plenty of attractive options when it comes to email programs (either shareware or freeware).
To learn more about Windows 7 and its new features, please refer to our Windows 7 tutorial.