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Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Microsoft Rolls Out Web Storage, New Photo Gallery

Microsoft introduced two new online services to its Windows Live line-up on Tuesday and said it plans to release more Web offerings this year to beef up its Internet strategy.

Microsoft plans to take on Web competitors Google and Yahoo with its "software plus services" strategy, that aims to leverage its dominant market position for software running on the computer to a new suite of services delivered over the Internet.

The company offers a suite of online services including e-mail and Web search under its Windows Live brand. Microsoft said it will introduce test versions of two new free services: Windows Live Folders and Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Chris Jones, Microsoft's corporate vice president, said the company will unveil the next wave of services later this year, but its goal will be to stitch together the disparate Windows Live services and offer a more unified experience.

"Soon we'll begin to offer a single installer which will give customers the option of an all-in-one download for the full Windows Live suite of services instead of the separate installation experience you see today," said Jones in a posting on Microsoft's Web site.

Windows Live Photo Gallery is a new version of the photo application found on Microsoft's two most recent operating systems, Windows XP and Windows Vista. It simplifies how people can share photos on their Windows Live Spaces site, Microsoft's social networking platform.

The sharing feature of Microsoft's new Photo Gallery is similar to how users can publish pictures from Apple's iPhoto application to the company's .Mac online service.

Microsoft said it is open to eventually letting users post to other photo sharing sites such as Yahoo's Flickr, if it can establish common protocols and standards with those Web sites.

Windows Live Folders will provide up to 500 megabytes of online storage in the United States in a limited test release. Microsoft said it will gauge usage during the test release and possibly add more capacity if needed.

Microsoft sees Windows Live Folders as a way people can share documents, but not necessarily a place where users can back up all the files on a computer hard drive.

Google has been widely rumored to be working on an online storage service, but the company has remained mum on the issue. However, Google offers a variety of services that include large amounts of free data storage, including Gmail and Docs & Spreadsheets.

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