Microsoft has begun showing how it will integrate its Windows Live online services into Windows Vista in recent test builds of the operating system, according to sources familiar with the company's plans.
Harrison Hoffman, one of the writers of the LiveSide blog, said in an e-mail Thursday that Windows Live has appeared in the "newer builds" of Vista. He said the links to Windows Live services appear in the Welcome Center screen of recent Windows Vista builds, which is the "Welcome to Your Computer" page in the OS.
Currently, the extent of the integration is the addition of icons which link users to Windows Live applications, such as Windows Live Messenger, Hoffman said. In fact, a posting on the Microsoft-watching blog of Steven Bink shows a screenshot of the integration to which Hoffman is referring. According to that screenshot, users can click on an icon to learn more about Windows Live and download online services such as the Windows Live Toolbar, Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Messenger.
Microsoft has been releasing intermittent test builds of Vista to beta testers; the OS is currently in a public Beta 2 release. Testers are expecting the first Release Candidate of Vista to be out soon, and Microsoft has said recently that it is on target to release Vista to enterprise customers in November and consumers in January 2007.
Brandon LeBlanc, one of the writers of Longhorn Blogs, also confirmed via e-mail the integration of Windows Live in Vista's Welcome Center. He said it's still unknown how much Windows Live services will be included in the OS once it is released to manufacturing.
Microsoft has said it would integrate its Windows Live online services with Vista, but has been unclear as to how it would execute on this strategy. The company has been pushing its online services hard as a way to drive online advertising revenue to compete with Google and Yahoo.
Microsoft's public relations firm did not return immediate requests for comment on Thursday.