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Microsoft ships trial version of software designed to let PC users securely share personal files.
In the latest sign that Windows 7 may be completed sooner rather than later, Microsoft has released a trial version of software that will allow users of its next operating system to securely share files with other PCs they own or with computers used by friends, family, or business associates.
Windows Live ID Sign-in Assistant 6.5 beta links users' Windows Live IDs with their Windows 7 user account, creating a secure connection between hard-drive resident files and data stored online in Windows Live.
Beyond accessing his own files across multiple devices, a user could provide third parties with access by adding associates' Windows Live IDs to the Windows 7 homegroup feature.
"On his homegroup, Bob wants to share certain documents with his wife but not with his kids. Simply by specifying his wife’s Windows Live ID user name, Bob can give his wife exclusive permission to access documents on his computer," Microsoft notes on its Web site.
The trial version of Windows Live ID Sign-in Assistant 6.5 is available as a free download from Microsoft's Windows download site.
Windows 7 offers numerous new features, including native support for touch-screen interfaces and more than 20 hotkey combinations designed to simplify use.
Microsoft needs Windows 7, expected to be released in late 2009 or early 2010, to be a hit. Vista, the company's current OS, has failed to catch on with mainstream computer users while businesses have shunned it outright. Many users have complained about Vista's hardware requirements, intrusive security measures, and lack of compatibility with older applications.
Dissatisfaction with Vista has allowed Apple to gain share against Microsoft in the computer operating system market in recent months. Windows' market share in November fell below 90% for the first time in years while Mac OS is now flirting with the 10% mark, according to market watcher Net Applications.
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