Microsoft's venerable basket of Windows Live services will live on, but the name is being retired. With the launch of Windows 8, something new is needed to unify and simplify Microsoft's offerings as it has to work across phones, tablets and desktops without sounding out-of-place.
Windows Live now covers a whole host of Microsoft services that were originally independently functional products, part of another service like MSN or have been purchased as Microsoft moved into web-based and cloud-based offerings. Either way, it's a bit of mish-mash as the company tries to present a unified front through the Metro interface in Windows 8, which gets a public beta this week.
When Windows 8 launches, expect Windows Live as an overall brand to be consigned to history as the apps, sites, functions and features become distinct products or integrated with others in an aid to user simplicity and improved customer experience.
So, in the name of plain speaking, Windows Live ID will become the Microsoft Account, hopefully offering access to all Microsoft services through one log-in. Other products become say-what-you see apps, so Live Photo Gallery becomes just "Photos," Zune Video Player becomes "Video" and so on.
Media and Games
Zune was Microsoft's noble attempt at an iTunes service. That too will vanish as Microsoft opens up Windows 8 app and media stores across the Windows 8 family of devices. However, Microsoft does have one success that it can't really nuke -- with the Xbox Live brand being an essential part of its gaming services. So, expect that to continue into the future with integration in Windows devices.
Some of the apps have obvious synergies, Skype and Messenger will go hand-in-hand, and will likely be bundled as MIcrosoft looks to use the Skype brand it its advantage alongside the next Office and other enterprise apps.
In future, it shouldn't matter what device you have, from a Windows Phone 8 to an ARM tablet, Microsoft's services should all be available in one, logically named, set of applications and utilities in the cloud.