News was confirmed today that Microsoft will exclude a range of desktop applications as standard installations in Windows 7. Included in the list not appearing in Windows 7 are Windows Photo Gallery (photo management), Windows Mail (email, previously Outlook Express), and Windows Movie Maker (video editing). Instead, Microsoft will offer the Windows Live versions as optional free downloads, according to CNet.
Liveside makes the following points on the move:
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.
While we don't know how hard Microsoft will push Windows 7 users to install these programs yet, not offering them upfront is an interesting step forward for Microsoft at a time web applications are quickly gaining popular use and acceptance over desktop applications. Email of course has long been in the cloud, but photo and video editing are newer entrants, and don't have the ubiquitous presence email has today.
It's a courageous move by Microsoft, empowering users to make an installation decision that may see them gravitate to the competition instead of Microsoft software. And yet, it's says alot about how Microsoft sees itself and its role today. Finally we're moving past the old school monopolist who seeks to lock in users to as many products as possible, to a platform provider, who respects that their user base should be able to choose between Microsoft desktop or online products, and other products.
It's even more courageous when you consider Apple's pitch for the Mac. Apple sells the Mac as offering MORE software out of the box that allows you to do more things straight away. Microsoft is now moving in the other direction. Dare I say it, but it makes Microsoft look the more net friendly, cloud friendly company of two, coupled with the fact you have to pay money to access Apple's built in web services, where as Microsoft's base line web products are nearly exclusively free.
I'm even going to go as far as calling the strategy radical. New Microsoft, new cloud friendly Windows. Courageous and likable.