Here's a twist. Yahoo is launching a native Flickr app for Windows 7 and Windows Phone 7 later this month that leverages Microsoft's Azure cloud platform.

The app connects Flickr data with Windows Azure via an API. Using Windows Azure, Yahoo is able to optimize the images for the Windows 7 environments and on the Windows Phone 7 devices.

For example, let's say someone is using the Flickr app on a Windows 7 tablet device and decides to view one of their albums. The app makes a call to Windows Azure, which computes the context for the way the image should be viewed on the device.

On a Windows Phone 7 device, the Flickr app shows images in its "live" tiles interface. These are flat, square tiles on the device. They represent your email inboxes, phone calls and apps among other things. Flickr images appear in the tiles. Or for instance, you can tap on a tile to get a map via Bing and then swipe to view a comments section.

The native Flickr app, built by Yahoo on .Net, demonstrates how multiple cloud platforms can be used to provide experiences for the user across multiple devices.

"Flickr is synonymous with the cloud," said Marcus Spiering, a product manager at Yahoo responsible for Flickr mobile products. "We store the image data, which is massive. What we don't have is a synchronized, connected device experience."

He said technically it would be possible to offer the service directly from Yahoo instead of using Windows Azure but they wanted to get the app out fast. And they wanted to build an experience that was engaging for the user across multiple, connected devices.

"Azure allowed us to build an app quickly and do it with quality," Spiering said.

The complexity arises in how the data and metadata gets handled. Azure provides that capability. In addition, Azure also serves as the platform for development, testing and deployment, plus has the capability to add new features to the Flickr app.

According to Microsoft:

Windows Azure Storage is used to manage the synchronization of data. By exposing the interface to this new functionality using RESTful services, Flickr can readily extend this functionality across a diversity of other platforms and devices.

The Flickr app built on Azure shows that the true opportunity in the cloud is in how multiple cloud environments can be accessed to create a rich experience for people across connected devices.

By leveraging Azure, Yahoo has the benefit of the Azure platform, an environment for app development that has gained a fair degree of credibility.

For Microsoft, it's a clear win. Flickr is one of the most popular photo services in the world. It provides a blue chip capability for people who use Windows 7 or Windows Phone 7 devices. As Microsoft pushes deeper into the mobile and tablet markets, Azure could prove to be a welcome asset for attracting additional high-profile Web properties to its platform.

The Flickr app will be available Jan. 31.