Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) announced that its web-based suite of applications Windows Live Essentials 2011 is now available for download for Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

The suite offers customers' apps for handling web-based services like messenger, photo galleries, media files editing and emails directly from Windows.

It also announced that Dell (Nasdaq: DELL) would be the first PC maker to install Windows Live Essentials 2011.

The suite has been crafted specifically to complement Windows 7 and is not available on Windows XP, attesting to Microsoft's attempt to retire the erstwhile OS.

The suite is cloud-based applications that allow Windows users to be connected from any device over the web. According to Jamie Cannon, group product manager for Windows Live, "We've brought together the best of Windows with the best of the Web. People are spending more time in the cloud, and as a result, it's where people communicate, connect and share. And so, we believe that bringing them together in a seamless way allows consumers to bridge the power of both."http:/

The service acts as a middleman, pooling in content from sites like Facebook and MySpace and making it available on Windows.

It has features like Windows Live Mesh that allows users to sync their PCs over the cloud, allowing them to move content without the use of a physical device.

Its Photo Gallery and Movie Maker lets the user edit photos and movies and directly upload them to social network sites.

The application thus allows Windows users to be connected to content and social network sites over the cloud from a single place from a PC or a mobile. Windows is still the largest base of OS on PCs, and thus the application has the required reach. The application release has been timed just before the release of its Windows Phone 7, which could give its users a feel of the app. Considering that the quality of apps available for a smartphone OS is a key factor in deciding the success of the mobile OS, Windows Live Essentials can give expectant users a foretaste of Windows-based apps that will later hit the Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft will use its established base of developers creating apps for PCs and Xbox as the backbone for apps for Windows Phone 7. Thus it will leverage on the familiarity of its offering, providing a similar experience across devices like PCs and smartphones.

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