I don't really want to install the VZAccess Manager software on my computer. Do I have to install the softward on at least one network in order to use it as a wireless router/modem? Can't I just connect to the network using the usual Windows wireless network set up?
If the device was pre-activated, yes.
Connecting to the device via the VZA allows you to monitor your usage, receive important messages from Verizon as well as firmware updates for the device.
Whether you decide to use the VZA or not , I suggest downloading and using Net Meter to monitor usage. The consequences of going over the 5gb limit could be expensive.
Yes, you have to install the software and then activate the service while plugged into the USB port.
Use the VZA for setup and initialization. Once done then you can use the Windows (or any other software) to connect to the wireless network.