Today Microsoft announced the beta release of Windows 7 and the availability of the new version of Windows Live.

The beta of Windows is on schedule and feature complete. The information that tens of millions of customers shared with Microsoft guided this release, and now they can begin to see first-hand how Windows 7 and Windows Live will improve the way they work and play on their PC and interact on the web.

At CES, Steve Ballmer made another very significant announcement: the availability of the new version of Windows Live.  The new Windows Live is designed to make it much easier to communicate and share experiences with the people you care about, and stay connected to the content and information that matters to you. In addition to market-leading and award-winning email and messenger client/services, Windows Live now infuses social networking across your online world. For instance, you can add people to your network by inviting your Facebook friends to appear on your Profile page. You can also set up a group for your family to share photos, messages, and more.

Windows 7 and Windows Live, along with Internet Explorer 8 (now in beta), were designed to work together to simplify how people use PCs, the Web, and mobile phones.

Windows 7 Beta will be widely available for download on Friday at http://microsoft.com/windows7.