Microsoft has launched a public beta for a new piece of software, code named 'Acrylic'. Acrylic is a design tool that will feel reasonably similar to anyone familiar with Adobe Photoshop. Acrylic offers the more advanced editing features (layers, etc) not currently found in the standard imaging program bundled with Windows, Microsoft Paint.
Microsoft describe "Acrylic" as "the codename for a new professional design tool that brings together the richness of pixel-based painting and the flexibility of editable vector graphics for a more fluid and flexible creative workflow. With Acrylic you can create sophisticated designs and graphic elements for your on-screen, Web, and print projects.."
Microsoft are offering the software on a 180 day trial basis, and are welcoming feedback via their online forums. for an extensive list of features, click 'read more'. Microsoft's long term plans with the software are somewhat unclear; the company already offers a photo editing product, and has imaging capabilities in other programs. They have have yet to make clear whether it would be sold as a standalone product, or bundled with a future OS release - i.e. Longhorn.
Download: Microsoft Acrylic Beta (77.6 Mb, XP and SP2 Required)