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Microsoft drops XP support in Live Essentials

Microsoft has released the latest version of its Windows Live Essentials pack but, for those who dislike upgrading, it brings an unpleasant surprise: no support for Windows XP.

Windows Live Essentials 2011 adds MovieMaker to the bundle, after the video editing package was removed from Windows 7 to streamline the installation somewhat. The package itself has also been improved, with enhanced support for uploading edited footage to YouTube.

Third-party site support is something of a theme with this latest release, with Photo Gallery adding the option to share files with on-line photo-sharing services such as Flickr. The Messenger component is also now capable of communicating with a selection of popular social networking services including Facebook, LinkedIn, and the recently-sold MySpace.

Parents will be pleased to hear that the Family Safety web filter package has been upgraded with support for Windows 7 jump lists for quick access to common tasks. Windows Live Mesh is also included, for document synchronisation between computers and Microsoft's cloud storage platform SkyDrive.

As with previous releases, the blogging client Writer, e-mail cleint Mail, Bing search bar, Outlook connector pack for Messenger, and would-be Flash-killer Silverlight are all included as standard. Those looking to keep their systems trim will, as always, be given the option of selecting only the components they want to install.

Sadly, all these improvements come at a cost: the latest release only supports Windows Vista and Windows 7, with the last-last-generation Windows XP excluded from the party. Thankfully, the older release - specifically designed for XP - is still available for download, albeit with the improvements the latest release brings.