Microsoft’s Windows Live group is launching two new managed betas: Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Folders. As managed betas, you only get to read about them, not use them (until Photo Gallery leaks to Bit Torrent), so here’s what’s going on:
Windows Live Photo Gallery is a replacement for Windows Photo Gallery in Windows Vista (or just a new feature for Windows XP) for managing your photos. You can edit, organize print and share photos, publishing them to Windows Live Spaces. It includes a photo stitching tool, for combining multiple photos into one panorama, comes with camera RAW support, and posts directly to Spaces and Soapbox, otherwise it is not clear what new features are in the software. The Vista version has DVD burning, the XP version does not.
Windows Live Folders is online file storage via Windows Live. Beta users get 500 megabytes of storage, with file sizes limited to fifty megabytes. Microsoft expects it to be used more for document storage than music, photos or videos. Users can organize their files into public, private and personal folders to control access to their data.
Each beta is initially limited to about 5,000 users. Also, expect a Windows Live Suite coming this fall. Microsoft’s new strategy is to package Live products together for wider distribution, and is pushing Live as a Software + Services platform.