Microsoft has closed a project to develop a tool for sharing photos with friends and reading RSS feeds, among other functions.

In an 31 October blog posting, Microsoft said feedback from the project, codenamed Max, has contributed to development of its .NET 3.0 programming framework, and may also end up in Windows Live, a new series of web and desktop-based applications.

Max also let users annotate their photos, as if they were using a felt-tip pen, while the original images were preserved. In March, developers incorporated MSNBC Newsbot into Max, which pulls content from online news sources.

Users were generally complimentary about Max, if somewhat perplexed by its features. They tended to put Max in the same category as Picasa, a photo sorting and sharing program owned by Google.

"Being able to trade your pictures and slide shows through a beautiful little program seems to be the goal of Microsoft Max," wrote David Kirk on his blog. "To their credit, it does those things well."

But Kirk wrote that Max had to be downloaded to a machine, and that publishing to a website such as Flickr makes the content more accessible.

"Max looks nice, and I can see it might be useful when there are plenty of more features," wrote another user on Max's blog. "However, I don't see the value of this news feature. If I want to read news, I will use my browser and not my photo software."