In short — no, you don't "neeeeed" to run MySQl as a service. It is just one aspect/fearture of using MySQLAdministrator and from my point of view, the way to go. If you worry about resources etc. set the service to "on demand" by unchecking the box "Launch MySQL server on system start" , so it does not start up with windows. This was you can start it from MySQLAdministrator as well as
the "XAMPP Control Panel", when ever needed.
As for what else you can do with MySQL-Administrator… well as with any GUI it's no more then you can do by editing your "my.cnf" in 'C:\xampp\mysql\bin\my.cnf'.
If you add the lines:
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long_query_time = 1
you'll turn on "Slow Query Logging" with logging Queries running more then 1sec. So with MySQL-Administrator up and running you can do this with a click of the mouse and for example don't have to worry what the right syntax is and that "slow_query_log" infact is deprecated and will be removed in MySQL 7.0 and you should use "slow_query_log" instead…
So, pointing MySQL Administrator to where everything is using:
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Config Filename: C:\xampp\mysql\bin\my.cnf (For Settings)
Path to binary: C:\xampp\mysql\bin\mysqld (For the Win Service)
allows you not only to control the Win MySQL Service, it also lets you make adjustments to all your MySQL settings!!
And by pointing MySQL Administrator as well as Win MySQL Services to one and the same ConfigFile you save yourself a lot of trouble when making changes to the Config, not remembering where to do them "C:\my", "C:\windows\my.ini" or in "C:\xampp\mysql\bin\my.cnf" — trust me you'll scratch your head 4-6 month from now
Ignore what the MySQL Administrator Manual says about putting it in "C:\my" or "C:\windows\my.ini" — having just one location of the my.cfn is just the way to go, in my opinion…
Hope this clears up the fog a bit — other then that, just do it… you'll like what you'll see.