Microsoft Is Killing the Windows Live Brand

Microsoft revealed today that it's killing the Windows Live brand, though many of the current Windows Live applications and services will continue with different names or, in Windows 8, as new Metro-styled apps. This move was long anticipated and parallels a related move to kill the Zune media brand.

According to Microsoft, more than 500 million people use Windows Live services every month. But with the advent of Windows 8 later this year, Windows Live is going away as a brand.

“Windows 8 provides us with an opportunity to re-imagine our approach to services and software and to design them to be a seamless part of the Windows experience, accessible in Windows desktop app[lication]s, Windows Metro-style apps, standard web browsers, and on mobile devices,” Microsoft Vice President Chris Jones wrote in a post to the Building Windows 8 Blog. “Today, the expectation is that a modern device comes with services as well as apps for communication and sharing. There is no ‘separate brand’ to think about or a separate service to install—it is all included when you turn on your PC for the first time.”

Windows Live was launched as a brand in 2005, and it replaced the MSN brand for most of Microsoft’s online services, except on the MSN web portal that continues today. But Windows Live never really fulfilled its original vision, and the applications that Microsoft pulled out of Windows due to antitrust issues—they became known as Windows Live Essentials--were never updated as frequently as was promised.

Many parts of Windows Live are simply being renamed. For example, Windows Live ID is being rebranded to Microsoft account as previously announced. But Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Movie Maker will be renamed to Photo Gallery and Movie Maker, respectively. (A consumption-focused Photos app will also be included with Windows 8.)

Many parts of Windows Live are being replaced by new solutions. Windows Live Mesh will disappear, to be replaced by a Metro-style SkyDrive app and SkyDrive desktop application. Windows Live Mail is being discontinued and will be replaced by Metro-style Mail, People, and Calendar apps. Windows Live Messenger is being replaced by a Metro-style Messaging app.

Microsoft had been telegraphing this move for much of the past year. In addition to the renaming of the Windows Live ID to Microsoft Account, many Windows Live properties, like SkyDrive and Hotmail, had dropped the Windows Live branding long ago.

There are still questions, of course, including how Microsoft plans to integrate its Skype acquisition into Windows 8 and its other platforms. The company promises more updates about its plans “in the coming weeks.”

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