Windows Live Gallery gets update – Adds Microsoft Points for micropayments

Today sees the update of Windows Live Gallery, the online site where users can personalise their Windows Live experience. From a user’s perspective the update adds the new Wave 2 UI, as well as a new area showcasing gadgets for Windows Live Events, not surprising given that Events runs as part of Spaces.

The Gallery update adds much more for developers though, turning it into a true marketplace for developers to showcase their wares, and if they want to, receive payment for their efforts.

Gallery now uses the existing Microsoft Points system, which also power Zune and Xbox Live purchases. The addition of a points-based based payment method to Windows Live has been talked about for a while, with confirmation that it would be included as part of the Windows Live developer platform being given at CES 2007. As well as potentially providing the impetus to galvanise independent Windows Live developers, integrating Microsoft Points potentially provides a further revenue stream for Microsoft, albeit maybe only a small one. Just as Facebook has Gifts, Microssft Points enables a similar scenario with Windows Live. Think Messenger content available to buy, with parents being able to give Microsoft Points gift cards, and not have to hand over their credit card.

Additionally those who have partnered with Microsoft can now set up their own virtual shops, turning Windows Live development into a serious business opportunity. What isn’t known is whether the silver partners (those who contribute a lot but have no formal business arrangement) can have their own shop, or what cut Microsoft takes from these micropayment sales.

Purchasing items is an easy three step process, all of which can be completed without leaving the page of the item you wish to purchase. Top marks to the Gallery team for that one.

Hopefully we’ll now see some kick-ass Windows Live sidebar gadgets for Windows Vista. At the moment they are distinctly lacking or have zero performance (Live Maps traffic gadget excluded of course). Any ideas where else Microsoft Points could also make an appearance within Windows Live? QnA? Live Search club?