Microsoft today announced it is adding a couple of new features to Windows Live, in an effort to provide "simple and flexible sharing solutions that really brings the social experience to the front". A photo-sharing application, Live Photo Gallery, and 500MB of online storage space called Windows Live Folders were released to a few thousand preselected beta testers.

Windows Live Photo Gallery will let users upload their photos and will feature essential online editing tools such as cropping, the elimination of redeye, and a photo stitching application that will allow users to create panoramas. Users can then upload up to 500 photos per month to Windows Live Spaces or send them to friends and family via email. The second addition, Windows Live Folders, is essentially an online-storage tool that people can use to back up files, share them with friends or post them publicly. Users will get 500MB of free storage - which Microsoft describes as "just a starting point". File size will be restricted to 50MB per item, though.

The move represents the first in a wave of new services that will roll out in the coming months; future developments are likely to include Office and Mobile to counter Google's web-based productivity applications. The company also said a new installer that will allow an "all-in-one" download of Windows Live services will be available soon.