File Under: Software, Web Services

Microsoft Puts ‘Windows Live’ Brand Out to Pasture [Updated]

Windows 8. Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft is getting ready to ditch the “Windows Live” moniker for the company’s suite of online services like mail, messaging, syncing and account management. The changes to Microsoft’s cloud offerings will be more than skin deep though; the revamped Windows Live services will be tightly integrated into the coming Windows 8 operating system.

When Windows 8 arrives it will be “cloud-powered”, as the Building Windows 8 blog puts it. That means the Windows Live Essentials app suite (a separate download for Windows 7) will no longer be around. Instead Metro-style apps that handle mail, photos, calendars and sharing are a default part of Windows 8 and come already connected to the cloud.

When you sign into a Windows 8 PC or tablet with your Microsoft account — that would be the account formerly known as Windows Live ID — your e-mail, calendar, contacts, messages, and shared photo albums are synced to that machine.

What’s slightly confusing about the changes is that they represent an about face not only in branding, but in goals. When Microsoft introduced the Windows Live Essentials suite of apps for Windows 7, it touted the fact that they were separate applications that could be updated more frequently than Windows itself. Now Microsoft is once again integrating the apps and their syncing components into the OS and this time around it’s touting the integration rather than the separation.

Microsoft's chart of software and services in the coming world of Windows 8.

There’s one exception to the Windows-Live-to-Metro-app migration — Microsoft’s blogging software, Windows Live Writer, which is not mentioned at all in Microsoft’s announcement. While far from the most popular of the Windows Live Essentials apps, Live Writer has a vocal and enthusiastic user base as is evidenced by the numerous comments on the Building Windows 8 blog. Microsoft did not respond to our inquiries regarding Live Writer in time for this post. [Update: Microsoft tells Wired that it will have "more info soon," but in the mean time points out that "all desktop apps work great and are supported on Windows 8, including Windows Live Writer." In other words, even if Live Writer doesn't get a Metro makeover, the standard desktop app will work just fine in Windows 8.]

To learn more about the changes and see the new Windows 8 syncing features in action, be sure to watch the video on the Windows 8 blog.