Microsoft on Wednesday will make available the first public beta version of its free Windows Live suite, a collection of Windows-based software that integrates with the company's online services. The suite runs on both Windows XP and Vista, and future versions of the suite will include access to updated versions of various Windows Live services, as well, Microsoft told me.
The initial public beta of the Windows Live suite includes an integrated installer that lets you choose which of the suite's applications and services you'd like to install. These include pre-release versions of Windows Live Photo Gallery (photo acquisition editing, and management), Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Messenger 8.5, Windows Live Writer, and OneCare Family Safety.
These Windows applications integrate with each other and with numerous Windows Live services in various ways. For example, Windows Live Photo Gallery allows users to post photos to their Windows Live Spaces-based blogs, and videos to MSN Soapbox. Microsoft is also fairly agnostic about integration, however: Photo Gallery now supports Apple's QuickTime video format, which is still popular with many camera makers, and Windows Live Writer, a blog editing tool, can post images to Google's PicasaWeb service.
"We've been talking about integrated experiences for a while now," Microsoft lead product manager Larry Grothaus told me during a recent briefing. "This is the fruition of that vision, and we're providing more value to customers who use Windows every day."
The public beta version of the Windows Live suite will be made available sometime later today on Microsoft's Live.com site. I'll have a complete write-up about the suite later this week on the SuperSite for Windows.