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Microsoft is beta testing two new features of Windows Live - its effort at delivering software as a service over the web. It has added a photo-sharing application, Live Photo Gallery, and 500MB of online storage space called Windows Live Folders.

Windows Live Photo Gallery is available to testers in nine countries and is described as an upgrade to Vista's Windows Photo Gallery - "it's as easy as sending an email", the release promises.

Live Folders' 500MB of free storage is something Microsoft describes as "just a starting point for us".

The company is promising new features in the next few months and a new installer that will allow an "all-in-one" download of Windows Live services.

Chris Jones, corporate vice-president for Windows Live Experience Program Management, said the photo service offered the "benefits of a rich client, plus the online services benefits..." He said future developments are likely to include Office and Mobile.

He said Windows Live had an advantage over better established rivals because it could offer various software and services together. ®

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