Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Windows Live is the branding use for Microsoft's Hotmail, Messenger and other services. I'll review how to control how much Windows Live you get.
Is it still possible to have MSN messenger and Hotmail separate from Windows Live like it all used to be? (Windows Live interferes with everything.)
Yes and no.
And normally I'd say "But mostly ..." and then tell you yes or no. Unfortunately, I can't even say which applies more since you didn't indicate exactly how Windows Live interferes.
Microsoft rebranded several of their offerings under the "Windows Live" brand, and also ended up packaging several of the downloadable components into a single installer.
I'll look at what level of granularity you can get.
First off Windows Live Hotmail is simply a web site that you go to when you want to read your email. With your Hotmail account (which doubles as your "Windows Live ID") you can login and deal with your mail however you like without involving any other Windows Live components.
Things get messier when we start looking at some of the downloadable components under the Windows Live umbrella; most notably Windows Live Messenger, formerly known as MSN Messenger.
When you download Windows Live Messenger you're actually taken to a site to download "Windows Live Essentials". These so-called "essentials" include Windows Live:
Naturally, by default the installer wants to give these all to you.
And, naturally, one solution is to be more picky about what actually gets installed.
When you fire up the Windows Live Essentials installer you'll be given a dialog like this:
Put very simply: uncheck everything you don't want.
If all you want it Windows Live Messenger, then uncheck everything but Messenger. You'll note that a few things will be installed with it - these are components that Messenger requires - but everything else will not be installed.
You can later change your mind and install additional Windows Live components, or remove Windows Live components, by returning to this dialog in the "Add/remove programs" or "Programs" sections of control panel: look for "Windows Live Essentials".
A couple of other observations:
If all you want is Hotmail, you do not need to install anything on your computer, and do not need to deal with Windows Live Essentials at all.
Your "Windows Live ID" is your login to all Windows Live services. Typically, it's your Hotmail email address and password. That same ID - namely that same email address and password - can be used with all the Windows Live services including Windows Live Messenger. Looking at it a different way, a different email address implies a completely different and separate Windows Live ID and thus a completely separate Hotmail and Messenger account.
At this point, it's my understanding that older versions pre-dating the Windows Live migration are not available, and will not work. If you want to use these services you must use Windows Live.
Hopefully, though, you'll now be able pick and choose which parts of Windows Live to install, if any.