A Microsoft executive last week confirmed that the software giant will use its popular Xbox brand for media services across devices types in more specifically in Windows 8. I had previously and exclusively reported that Microsoft was retiring its lackluster Zune brand over time and that the products and services that currently fall under Zune would be rebranded as part of this change, most likely to Xbox. This now appears to be the case.
The comments were made by Mike Delman, Microsoft's vice president of global marketing for the firm's Interactive Entertainment Business group. Delman was being interviewed by The Seattle Times in the context of last week's entertainment-oriented E3 show. Microsoft promoted Xbox heavily at the show, as usual, but never mentioned Zune or, for that matter, Windows PCs or Windows Phones. So the conversation eventually veered toward what wasn't mentioned.
"[Xbox] LIVE has been successful on the Windows Phone," Delman said. "LIVE will be built into the PC. It will be the service where you get your entertainment ... you will not just see consoles and handhelds at this show next year; this show's going to morph into other devices."
By "other devices," Delman presumably means Windows-based tablets and possibly phones, though of course Microsoft's Windows Phone efforts date back over a year now.
"If we have [Nokia on Windows Phone] and the PCs to leverage, that will be a big LIVE base," he continued. "It's our job to make 'buy a movie in one place and play it everywhere, buy a game in one place and play it everywhere.' Making things portable will be a big focus of ours."
When asked about Windows 8 specifically, Delman hinted that Microsoft plans to integrate the newly media-centric Xbox LIVE services into Microsoft's next desktop OS in a manner similar to how it integrated Xbox and Zune into the Xbox 360 and Windows Phone.
"There will be a lot of similarities in design and service philosophy," he said. "Whether it's us or Apple or anybody else, people want to be able to navigate through multiple devices in a certain ecosystem very seamlessly, so we're committed to that ... Xbox LIVE will be the pervasive media service across devices."
Delman added that Microsoft needed to "unify its assets" with regards to the company's current crop of disparate consumer-oriented online services, which span brands such as Windows Live, MSN, Bing, Xbox LIVE, Zune, and others. Part of this unification is a consolidation of brands. And of Microsoft's current brands, Zune is arguably the one with the least cachet.