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Microsoft Previews 'Live' Dev Tools

Microsoft this week is giving a sneak peek at new Live services and platform development tools it plans to introduce at the company's MIX08 Web developers conference next week.

"We've got some cool new applications and APIs we’re unveiling at MIX08," David Treadwell, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Live Platform Services group, said in a blog post Wednesday evening.

MIX is Microsoft's annual confab for Web developers and designers. This year's event, which runs next Wednesday through Friday, is being held in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas as usual.

Among technologies the company plans to show off at MIX08 will be an early version of Internet Explorer 8, which will soon begin a "private" beta test. IE8 is due out sometime later this year.

[cob:Related_Articles]On the list of other technologies Treadwell previewed is the beta of the Windows Live Messenger Library, a set of programming routines meant to enable developers to create customized user interfaces for third-party Web sites using Live Messenger. "We are opening up the Windows Live Messenger network for third-party web sites to reach the 300 million-plus Windows Live Messenger users," Treadwell's post said.

Also, Thursday, the company released the beta of the Windows Live Contacts API , which lets programmers build applications that can securely transfer and share contacts lists with other applications.

Meanwhile, Treadwell also announced the beginning of beta testing for Silverlight Streaming by Windows Live, a free media streaming service that works with the company's Silverlight cross-browser, cross-platform media streaming plug-in technology.

Microsoft is currently readying the first beta of Silverlight 2.0, an important update to 1.0 that adds the capability to program Silverlight using Visual Studio languages.

In November, Microsoft said it plans to release Silverlight 2.0 in beta test form in the first quarter, with final release targeted for sometime this year.

Much of Microsoft's Live services initiative revolves around a suite of free advertising-supported consumer services. The company has rolled out a variety of services since it began the initiative more than two years ago, including Windows Live Messenger, Windows Live Mail, Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live Writer, Windows Live OneCare Family Safety, and Windows Live SkyDrive.