Microsoft Says It’s Party Time

Microsoft this week added a new online party-planning service to its growing Windows Live collection and says it is gearing up for several more Live services announcements in the weeks ahead.

Windows Live Events will be rolled out over the next few days, according to Microsoft statements. Live Events enables a user to create an event Web site and use it to manage the event by sending invitations via e-mail or Messenger and interacting with invitees’ calendars. It also allows users to share photos of the event afterwards.

“Events is one in a series of new and updated Windows Live services rolling out between now and the end of this year,” a Microsoft spokesperson told in an e-mailed statement.

Not surprisingly, Live Events was welcomed by Windows Live enthusiast site “While we are awaiting a peek at Events ourselves, it sounds like a promising tool,” read a posting on the site’s blog Friday.

Like most of Microsoft’s other Live services, Live Events is intended to provide free, ad-supported services to consumers as part of the company’s emerging “software plus services” initiative. And Events is just one of several new and enhanced services on the way,

Microsoft just doubled the storage size provided by its recently introduced Live SkyDrive online storage service to 1 gigabyte of free space. SkyDrive is still in beta test.

And last week, the company debuted a new Live service called HealtVault that’s designed to let consumers take control of their medical and health records online. That came on the heels of an announcement a week earlier of a new file storage and sharing service for users of Microsoft Office called Office Live Workspaces.

Eventually, Microsoft intends to build out a very large computing “fabric” – in terms of both numbers of servers and geographical locations – that will give it the ability to quickly deploy dozens to perhaps hundreds or thousands of services to users worldwide.

“In order to gain leverage across all of our offerings, we’re taking a platform approach to services, giving each of our products the common benefits of cost, speed, scale and monetization that a platform approach offers,” chief software architect Ray Ozzie told attendees at the company’s annual financial analyst meeting in late July.

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