Microsoft has today stepped up its software plus services strategy with the launch of its next generation of Windows Live services that make it easier than ever to communicate and share information safely, from anywhere, and across multiple devices.

The new Windows Live offering is a key element in Microsoft’s software plus services approach, designed to deliver a desktop and web experience that work naturally together. This next generation (Wave 2) of Windows Live services provides an all-in-one package to help consumers easily communicate, connect, share and stay safe on the internet.

Today’s launch features enhancements to existing popular features, such as Windows Live Hotmail, Messenger and Spaces, as well as integration of some additional new tools into the Windows Live Suite:

  • Windows Live Unified Installer: Offers the option of an all-in-one download for the full Windows Live suite of downloadable services
  • Windows Live Events: A new service for planning events from inviting friends with any email address to sharing photos after the event
  • Windows Live Writer: A desktop application that simplifies the process of publishing content to a blog
  • Windows Live Photo Gallery: A complete solution for finding, fixing, organizing and sharing your digital memories, including photos and videos

The new Windows Live Photo Gallery is a perfect example of the integration of software plus services in Windows Live. This application runs on Windows Vista or Windows XP SP2, and has built-in links to Windows Live Spaces and Windows Live Mail. Customers get the offline access and responsiveness of a rich application, plus the online service benefits of easy sharing and anywhere access.

Entertainment, community and communication are all deeply intertwined elements of Windows Live, said Sharon Baylay, General Manager, Microsoft Online Services Group UK. The suite combines serious communication with a great deal of fun – sending videos, sharing photos, planning events, flirting, chatting, sharing stories and more.  We are offering a rich set of software plus web services covering communications, community and entertainment that our customers can use on their desktop or on the move.

Five years from now we expect every software product to have a companion online service to support it customers will come to think of this as standard. It is our software plus services approach that allows us to deliver this and we are one of very few companies that can execute this at scale. We believe the seamless integration between online and offline services will enable us to offer our customers an enhanced user experience.

The free upgrade for Windows Live is available to download at once, or users can pick and choose their favourite services at http://get.live.com/ and http://www.windowslive.com/