Microsoft Prepares To Phase Out 'Windows Live' Brand

In preparation for Windows 8's release, Microsoft is planning to kill its "Windows Live" branding over the next few months.

Chris Jones, vice president of Microsoft's Windows Live group, noted in a blog post Wednesday that Microsoft has received plenty of customer feedback on the Windows Live name, which was applied to both software and services. He said that Windows Live solutions seemed merely "bolted on to the [Windows] experience" because they weren't designed to be cloud-enabled, except to receive updates

Microsoft's name switch had been rumored beforehand, and it's actually very typical of Microsoft to change its product names, even within a single year. This time, Microsoft appears to have a less arbitrary rationale for dumping the branding, which was attached to a whole division of the company (the Windows and Windows Live Division), various software and services, and even to user ID sign-ups that were associated with using a whole range of Microsoft's products. The main rationale difference this time around is that Microsoft will have better services integration with Windows 8.

Windows Live products, which have been around since November 2005, have evolved into a series of no-cost and largely consumer-oriented additions to the Windows client operating system. By means of a free download of Windows Live Essentials, users get access to a suite of Windows Live apps for e-mail, instant messaging, contacts and calendars, photo galleries and movie making, plus cloud-based storage and a parent-friendly content-blocking app.

All of those features appear destined to survive when Windows 8 is released, presumably this fall. The only thing that will change will be the names. The name tracking is still quite a chore. Microsoft provides a whole matrix in its blog post for interested readers to follow. The names are different across Windows versions, Windows Phone and Microsoft's Web site URLs.

However, the most important name change is from Windows Live ID (formerly known as "Passport") to "Microsoft account." Those who sign up for a Microsoft account when using Windows 8 will get automatic access to cloud-enabled services, such as "a contact list, calendar, inbox, instant messaging and cloud storage," according to Jones. Those apps can be accessed anywhere via PC, Windows Phone or browser.

Windows 8 is also capable of roaming application settings across devices, according to Jones. It lets users resume where they left off in an application on another device, he contended.

Applications can share information through the use of Microsoft's "charms" mechanisms in Windows 8. So, one of the benefits of Windows 8's cloud-enabled account and settings capabilities is the ability to share such data with third-party-built apps, such as social networking apps from Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter. For instance, Windows 8 contact information will show up in these apps, Jones said. To that end, Microsoft offers a Live Software Development Kit for Windows 8 that's designed to help independent software vendors cloud-enable their applications.

Jones indicated that Microsoft plans to release more info on its software and services integration work with Windows 8 "in the coming weeks," including more about its Skype voice-over-IP application. Microsoft announced the purchase of Skype a year ago for $8.5 billion.

Late last month, Microsoft shared information about some improvements to its cloud-based SkyDrive, along with limiting the free storage space of the service to 7 GB. Microsoft seems to be phasing out its Live Mesh cloud storage system in favor of SkyDrive, although company officials did not say as much. There actually are two versions of SkyDrive: a SkyDrive app, which runs in a browser and SkyDrive Desktop. The two solutions have different file upload capacities. SkyDrive Desktop can upload a file up to 2 GB, while the SkyDrive app appears to be limited to 100 MB max on file uploads.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.