Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Assorted redistributables and shared libraries are often installed on your PC by programs that need them. Removing them, while tempting, is fairly risky.
I have an Acer Aspire One D255 laptop and it runs Windows XP. I'm wondering if I need all of these Microsoft programs on here, like Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 redistributable or Microsoft Visual C++ 2008 redistributable. It's taking up space on my hard drive and I'm wondering if those programs are really necessary. Then, I was also wondering if I need all of these Windows Live programs on here, like Windows Live Essentials or Windows Live Sync.
Time for my most common, and yet most annoying answer....
I'll describe what the Visual C++ redistributables are all about and why the safest thing to do is probably to leave them alone. As for Windows Live ... well, that one's up to you.
When companies write software using Microsoft Visual C++, they make use of a number of what are called "standard libraries". Those are collections of pre-written software provided by Visual C++ for programmers to use. That way, they don't have to write what are often very common sequences of code. Instead, they can use these libraries of software that are pre-written and very thoroughly tested by either years of use or Microsoft's own testing efforts.
The libraries are packaged in such a way that several programs which use the same library can share one copy of the library. So, if you have five programs that use the Microsoft Visual C++ 2005 redistributable, there only needs to be one copy of it on your computer.
Libraries like this are not guaranteed to be on the machine to begin with so companies are allowed to "redistribute" the libraries (hence, the name). If the library is not already on your machine when you install the software that needs it, that software's setup program can install them as well.
Naturally, there is more than one version and apparently the newer one does not automatically replace the older one. Much like the .NET Framework, you can end up with more than one version on your machine.
I have no idea if you need them. I have no idea if you need just one or both.
In this case, it depends on the software on your machine. If the software that you've installed on your machine needs them ... well, then you need them. If it doesn't, then you might not.
But given that they only appear on your machine if software that uses them is present†, I would expect that you probably do need them. Both.
And leaving them in place is by far the safest thing to do.
This time, it depends on you.
Windows Live Essentials is a kind of shared library - not unlike the Visual C++ redistributable - that is used by the various Windows Live programs that you might install on your machine. So, if you use Windows Live Mail or Windows Live Messenger, then Windows Live Essentials is required.
On the other hand, if you never use any Windows Live software, you might be able to do without. Using Windows Live Hotmail via the web only, for example, doesn't install or require any Windows Live software on your machine.
And if something stops working, Windows Live Essentials are a quick and easy download.
My question to you is this: is it worth the time and risk to consider removing these things?
My experience is that they won't give you back nearly as much disk space as you might be expecting.
If you're in a true disk-space crunch, I'd approach the problem by seeing what's using the most space and attacking it from that angle. You'll get a lot more space more quickly if you approach it by looking for the biggest space hogs first.
If you're not running low on disk space, I wouldn't spend any more time on it. If these items aren't being used, they're not using any system resources other than disk space.
Not to mention that there's always a risk of breaking something when removing components like these that are designed to be shared. There's simply no way to ensure that there are no programs that might need 'em still on your machine.
† In an ideal world, uninstalling the last software package that requires a particular redistributable would also uninstall that redistributable. For various reasons, that's likely not to be the case. If you uninstall software that requires a redistributable, you may be left with an unnecessary redistributable on your machine. It's probably a rare case.