Microsoft has confirmed that applications for simple activities such as e-mail and photo editing won't be included with Windows 7. Specifically, Photo Gallery, Windows Mail and Movie Maker will be ditched in favor of optional downloadable apps that tap into Windows Live and offer the same functionality. The company argues that this will ensure a quicker turnaround for the launch of Windows 7 and that it opens up the possibility of working with partners down the line.

Speaking to, Windows Live general manager Brian Hall said the company decided it was pointless to offer two different programs for each function, particularly since this confuses customers and makes support more complicated. The announcement further highlights Microsoft's strategic shift to online services and is also a much welcome step towards making Windows 7 less bloated than Vista. It could also help the Redmond giant avoid antitrust problems for tying operating system features to specific services.