Microsoft will finally kill off the Windows Live brand

One of Microsoft's more baffling branding decisions may finally be coming to an end. A report claims that with Windows 8, the confusing "Windows Live" brand will finally start to be killed off. The brand never made any sense and combined apps and services that had little, if anything, to do with one another.

A report in The Verge says that rather than slap the incomprehensible "Windows Live" brand onto apps and services that have nothing to do with one another, in Windows 8, those apps and services will simply be named after what they do. So, for example, "Windows Live Calendar" will simply be called "Calendar," "Windows Live Mail," will be called "Mail," "Windows Live Photo Gallery" will be called "Photos," and so on.

What a concept --- actually naming software and services after what they actually do, with no incomprehensible branding in front of them.

The Windows Live brand never made any sense. It was slapped onto a wide variety of Microsoft products, ranging from Web-based services such as mail, to downloadable apps, such as Windows Live Essentials, which contains a variety of apps, including the Windows Live Photo Gallery and Movie Maker.

Given that many "Windows Live" services were accessible via a Web browser from non-Windows platforms, what did Windows have to do with them? Nothing. And why should DVD editing software carry the same branding as online storage? There was no reason at all.

Over the years I had asked several people from Microsoft to explain what "Windows Live," meant and none really could. So I would imagine that people inside the company will likely be glad to see the brand finally being phased out. Originally, the "Live" brand seemed to connote that the service would be a Web-based one, although the brand was also slapped on downloadable software. And "Windows" seems to have been slapped on it because Microsoft used to slap its name on everything.

What's not clear yet is whether the new naming will be reflected on Microsoft Web sites, or only inside Windows 8. And will old versions of the software and services be updated in order to remove the Windows Live brand?

The move to kill the brand is a good one, not only because it will make it easier for consumers to understand what the services and software do, but also because it shows that Microsoft recognizes that the Windows brand does not carry the magic that Microsoft once thought it did. Windows is no longer its biggest money maker, and de-emphasizing that brand as the core of its business is a smart business decision.

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