Microsoft announced Wednesday it has begun the public beta of a suite of its Windows Live services that all use the same installation program.
The company also said it is shipping version 1.0 of its Silverlight cross-browser, cross-platform media-streaming plug-in, and announced that it will support a Linux version of Silverlight that is under development by Novell.
The suite includes Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery photo sharing, the Windows Live Writer blogging tool, and Windows Live OneCare Family Safety parental controls, as well as Windows Live Messenger 8.5, Chris Jones, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Windows Live team, said in a post on the Windows Live Wire blog.
While much of the suite has been available to beta testers for some time, this is the first time the suite has been bundled with a unified installation program.
"Starting today, you’ll be able to install the entire suite of these downloadable Windows Live services at one time, from one place, instead of going through separate installations for each service," Jones said in his post. In addition, the installer will provide an auto update feature that will keep the services up to date. The beta suite is available here.
But the question is, will the prospect of a common installation program attract new users to Microsoft's Live services initiative?
"I think they're building some decent software but I'm not certain it's going to drive people to use it that weren't using it before," Matt Rosoff, lead analyst at researcher Directions on Microsoft, told internetnews.com.
"It's not really new [software]; what's new is the unified installer and I don't know if that's going to make a lot of difference for users," Rosoff added.
Meanwhile, Microsoft also announced it is shipping the final version of the Silverlight 1.0 plug-in. Version 1.0 entered the final stage of beta testing – known as "release candidate" or RC -- in late July.
Microsoft also announced it is working with Novell to support the Linux vendor's port of Silverlight -- dubbed Moonlight -- to Linux. The Linux port of Silverlight is based on the Mono project, Novell's open source Unix version of Microsoft's .NET Framework. Silverlight 1.0 is available for download here.