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Microsoft presses refresh on Windows Live again

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Microsoft is once again tweaking its Windows Live estate, this time with a view to improving photo and video management both online and offline.

According to CNet's Ina Fried, Redmond is updating its Windows Live photo gallery, movie maker, mail and sync features with betas expected to arrive in the next few months.

"We're refreshing Windows 7 with a new suite of apps," Microsoft general manager Brian Hall said.

He did not provide any specific dates about the test build releases, however.

It's hardly surprising to see Microsoft shifting gears with its photo gallery tool, which will soon come with facial recognition capabilities.

The company's research arm in Cambridge, England has been working on image processing ideas in recent years and has already slotted some of those prototype efforts into Office 2010.

At the same time, as noted by Fried, MS is playing catch-up with the competition. Apple already stitched face detection technology into the latest version of its iPhoto software.

But according to Hall at least, "Windows is better for photos than a Mac, hands down," reports CNet.

The downloadable programs will work only with Vista and Windows 7 but not Windows XP, which is still a popular operating system nearly a decade after it was first released by Microsoft.

The Sync feature has been melded together with folder sharing tools and the Live Mesh product, which is now in beta. LiveSide.net has more about the peer-to-peer style file online and desktop storage component here. ®

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