Windows Live to replace Mail, Photo Gallery, and Movie Maker in Windows 7

Windows Live is set to take a much more prominent role with Windows 7, as Microsoft made it official today that Mail, Photo Gallery, and Movie Maker are being removed from the operating system, to be replaced by the free Windows Live services.

Of  course if you’ve been reading LiveSide, we’ve been telling you that since at least last March.  Then in June, Bill Gates hinted that Movie Maker “is Windows Live, now”, and Mary Jo Foley put 2 and 2 together a few weeks ago.

However Ina Fried from CNET received official confirmation from Brian Hall, Windows Live General Manager, today:

In a follow-up interview on Monday, Windows Vista general manager Brian Hall said Microsoft made the decision to remove the tools from Windows for several reasons, including a desire to issue new operating system releases more quickly than it has in the past. The move also removes the confusion of offering and supporting two different programs that perform essentially similar functions.

"It makes it much cleaner," Hall said.

The move makes sense to us on at least three fronts:  Windows gets physically smaller and also less of an anti-trust target; redundancy between Windows and Windows Live teams is lessened;  and the Live services can move at a faster pace without being tied to operating system time frames.  It will also potentially increase the reach of Windows Live, although it remains to be seen how the installation will be handled.  Buying an operating system without email abilities seems almost unthinkable, but will it be as easy to hook GMail into Windows 7 as Windows Live?  Lots more to come, and we expect to hear quite a bit more at PDC, coming up in a month and a few days.