Microsoft drops Windows Live in favour of... Microsoft

Windows 8

Cloud services, apps and logins will be more tightly integrated with Windows 8

Microsoft is killing off the Windows Live brand, as it seeks to clarify its cloud services ahead of Windows 8.

At the moment, Windows Live includes Hotmail, Messenger and SkyDrive, and is used as a login for Microsoft devices, while the Windows Live Essentials package includes apps such as Photo Gallery, Movie Maker and Live Mail.

While the services claim 500m users a month, with 350m active users on Hotmail, Microsoft said Live "did not meet our expectations of a truly connected experience".

"Windows Live services and apps were built on versions of Windows that were simply not designed to be connected to a cloud service for anything other than updates, and as a result, they felt 'bolted on' to the experience," admitted Chris Jones, VP of the Windows Live development group, in a post on the Building Windows 8 blog.

Instead of Windows Live, those apps, web services and logins will no longer have a separate name, and simply be referred to as a "Microsoft account".

The Microsoft account can be used to link Windows PCs with Windows Phone devices, and to login to devices as well as Xbox Live, Zune and the Windows app store.

Data such as photos and contact lists will be shared across the system, and logging into a new PC with your account will let Microsoft pull in your existing settings. The Essentials apps will be replaced with Metro apps.

Jones said the Microsoft account system will be able to interact with existing third-party services customers might be using, and an API will be made available to third-party developers.

"We also believe that you should have a choice and control over what services you use, what information you share (with others and Microsoft) and how you access your services," Jones said. "That's why using any of these services is optional, and you're welcome to mix and match them with the software and services you choose."

The change will be rolled out over the next several months, Microsoft said.

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