back to article Microsoft kills Windows Live brand

Microsoft is killing its Windows Live brand ahead of launching Windows 8, citing "customer confusion". In a mercifully short Windows 8 blog Microsoft said it’s ripping the meaningless umbrella from a bunch of online services. Windows Live covers Hotmail, SkyDrive, and Messenger and is the prefix to its Web 2.0 me-too …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Defiant
    Thumb Down

    Stick to a ruddy name will you

    citing "customer confusion". I'm sure its more confusing that they keep changing ruddy names

    1. Inachu

      Re: Stick to a ruddy name will you

      Every new relaugh of MSN they killed teh servers each time then demanded you download the new msn messenger. The messenger from XP was just fine! Microsoft should just reenable the XP version to work on all windows versions.

      Disgusted they kill a good thing then turn it into a resource hog.

      1. Test Man
        Thumb Down

        Re: Stick to a ruddy name will you

        Nah, the messenger from XP (Windows Messenger) was AWFUL and simply caused confusion when there was also the more fully-featured and also-working-on-XP-as-well-as-other-Windows-OS MSN Messenger.

        I agree with you about Windows Live Messenger (what MSN Messenger is called now) being a resource hog though.

        1. Danny 14

          Re: Stick to a ruddy name will you

          XP messenger was NET SEND wasnt it?

    2. Ilgaz

      Eh it never worked anyways

      People decided to stick with "MSN" brand years ago. If they wondered around in real world getting out of their cool offices and Intranet, they could figure this fact.

      So what do they call it now? Bing messenger? Nobody cares.

      1. Can't think of anything witty...

        Re: Eh it never worked anyways

        Bing Messenger? never heard of it....

        been using pidgin for years now, not least because of the way it handles multiple accounts from multiple networks... though i'm sure there are a load of other good multi-network clients out there...

        MS do keep changing the names of stuff, i admit that i've kinda lost track. as long as it all keeps working i'm happy...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Counter-productive name changing to point of meaninglessness

      Defiant: "I'm sure its more confusing that they keep changing ruddy names"

      Er, yeah... bingo. This is the same company changed the name of its "passport" service a ludicrous amount of times:-

      "Microsoft Account (previously Microsoft Wallet, Microsoft Passport, .NET Passport, Microsoft Passport Network, and most recently Windows Live ID)"

      I'd have said that MS's stupidly confusing naming is marketing-over-clarity, but *it's not even good marketing!!* I bet the man on the street doesn't have a clue what MS's constantly-changing brands-of-the-week are supposed to mean to him anyway, beyond being a confusing and counter-productive mish-mash of pseudo-terminology.

      The quintessential ironic example of how MS just don't get it was their (then-)latest media-player compatibility scheme called "Plays for Sure" which obviously implied Apple-style "no brainer just works" straightforwardness. They proceeded to totally undermine this by renaming it to tie in with "Certified for Windows Vista" (which also encompassed other schemes) and launched a separate, incompatible DRM/compatibility scheme for their now-defunct Zune range. Does anyone know (or care) what MS's attention-deficit clusterf*** of overlapping brands are supposed to mean?!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Changing again?

    They're changing the name of MSN messenger again?

    Oh dear, thats going to be so terribly confusing when I continue to call it MSN messenger, just like I did when it become Live Messenger. Or maybe not.....

    1. Recaf

      Re: Changing again?

      Unless of course they finally drop it and merge "MSN Messenger" into Skype?

    2. Daniel B.

      The Neverending Name Change

      Oh yeah, we also still call it MSN Messenger. Though they did a worse job with their Spaces thingy, which at some point ended up being called:

      "MSN Live Spaces" and the URL for my space would be something like "" huh?

      BTW, now that they're killing "Live", can they pleeease allow us to put nicknames on our MSN Messenger accounts? Currently we're forced into having our full real name put as the handle, instead of a nickname.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The Neverending Name Change

        You gave MSN your real name?


        Horus P. McTitty

  3. TeeCee Gold badge

    That's nothing.

    Try hitting the web service for more gadgets in Windows 7.

    Rather than the comprehensive gadget gallery, you now get a brief selection of "more popular" ones, along with an explanation that says something like; "Fuck you, get Windows 8".

    So, no gadgets in 8 + people find gadgets useful = pretend they don't exist.

  4. a_mu
    Thumb Down

    bring back outlook express

    so when windows live mail goes,

    what does one use as an email client

    or are we all expected to use cloud based stuff, no off line reading ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: bring back outlook express

      how many names has outlook express had now?

      1. pear

        Re: bring back outlook express

        Windows live desktop I found to be considerably better than outlook express. Must admit the webmail is genuinely very comprehensive and I rarely use the desktop version.

    2. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: bring back outlook express

      > what does one use as an email client

      Er, an email client? Something which Outlook (Express) isn't, in my book.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: bring back outlook express

        So would you care to name another product that has functionality on the same planet as Outlook/Exchange?

        Oh, you can't.

    3. Wombling_Free

      Re: bring back outlook express

      Outlurk Explode? ARE YOU INSANE, SIR?

      The biggest virus infection vector that ever existed? It was abysmal!

      With any luck the source code was buried upside down in a lead coffin sealed inside the Chernobyl Sarcophagus, or launched on rocket into the sun.

    4. Test Man

      Re: bring back outlook express

      Who said Windows Live Mail is going? Next version will be renamed "Mail". In any case, as usual, there are plenty of third-party apps. Why did you assume that you'll have to use webmail just because of the possibility that ONE e-mail program is discontinued?!

      Somebody mentioned the amount of names the software has had. It was first "Internet Mail & News", then "Outlook Express" and now "Windows Live Mail".

      Somebody mentioned "Windows Live Desktop" - no such thing. That said, I'm not surprised that person is confused about the name when Microsoft keep on changing it!

      1. Swanny246

        Re: bring back outlook express

        I think they may mean "Windows Live Mail", which was known as "Windows Live Mail Desktop" during the beta phases (when Hotmail was briefly going to take the Windows Live Mail name)

        RIP Windows Live. Gotta admit I did have a lot of fun beta testing the new versions of Messenger, Hotmail etc. The MSN Hotmail to Windows Live Mail was a fun beta to test out. Lost interest around wave 3 though, and the fragmentation became shocking with the Live Search to Bing rebranding.

        It'll be good to see some unification happening with Windows 8.

  5. Turtle

    "There’s plenty 'o (sic) talk about how Windows 8 will be 'cloud-powered'."

    Well that's another good reason for me to stay away from it.

    (And shouldn't that be "plenty o' talk"?)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "cloud powered" "another good reason for me to stay away from it."


  6. Alien Doctor 1.1

    "it is all included when you turn on your PC for the first time."

    and the second time you turn your PC on - it crashes?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But can you uninstall it?

      ...or is this another IE vs. Netscape play?

      What if I want to use Dropbox instead of SkyDrive, etc?

  7. Anonymous Coward


    It's a bit late to avoid confusion isn't it?

    I recall when they bought Hotmail... then then promptly destroyed the brand by relentlessly merging it into whatever flavour of the month web property brand they were working at.

    I really hope they've learned their lesson with skype, and they keep it's clear identity.

    1. Daniel B.


      They almost killed the brand back in 2005. Of course, someone realized that Hotmail had much more brand recognition than "live mail" so they left it with a midway name change: Windows Live Hotmail.

      1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

        Re: Hotmail

        Agreed, that was an epic level of stupidity from MS's marketing drones. Just adding "Microsoft" to hotmail would have kept the brand intact and hotmail wouldn't have suffered so much.

        ...that and not knackering up the webmail user interface almost as often as yahoo.

        Unfortunately MS have a track record of buying previously successful branded products and ruining them, for example multimap used to be the place to go for a map but not now. (to be fair the API for multimap was excruciating in the first place, so in some ways it couldn't have got worse).

  8. NightFox

    "Today the expectation is that a modern device comes with services as well as apps for communication and sharing"

    Until all the anti-trust cases start that is, and MS get forced to offer these all as separate downloads. IIRC several of the current Windows Live downloadable apps were originally included in Windows.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    that's the MS re-innovation for you :)

  10. FatGerman

    "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"

    Congratulations Microsoft, welcome to the late 20th century.

    1. hitmouse

      I thought the real reason for Live, was so that various utilities could be removed from the Windows box, especially those that the EU and other bodies like to sue Microsoft (and no one else) for incorporating into an operating system.

  11. Senior Ugli

    Microsoft Blue Screen 8

    Sorry Windows 8 has encountered a problem with clouds getting in the way of clouds.

  12. hitmouse

    Petition to save Windows Live Writer

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I am not a number I'm a free application!!!

    Oh dear oh dear. Microsoft seem to be going through more identity issues. I can't believe they are blaming customer confusion when the only confusion is self inflicted by Microsoft....

    From what I've read / seen it looks like when you first set Windows 8 up it'll create a new account (probably then they will try to lock you in to using Skype, their email service, their new (Lynn they've re-badged it you fool!) music service plus the tie ins with x-box live (or should that be x-box windows live well maybe not live anymore live) and of course bing and Facebook....

    Fair play to them they've seen Apple target consumers and trap them in a walled garden by creating a locked in ecosystem, so Microsoft are doing their best to shoot corporate customers in the foot to chase the latest whimsical dream (the cloud) forgetting who gives them their bread and butter.....

    Roll on Windows 9

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I am not a number I'm a free application!!!

      You can log in to Windows 8 with a local account, or with a "Windows Live" account. But your Windows Live account can use any e-mail address - it's not restricted to hotmail or addresses. You can even use a address for your "Windows Live" account.

      1. SocalBrian
        Thumb Down

        Re: I am not a number I'm a free application!!!

        You may be able to log in with a local account but you won't be able to use the mail app - or the contacts app - or the calendar app if you do.

        1. Test Man
          Thumb Down

          Re: I am not a number I'm a free application!!!

          So what? Just use a third-party app, like with every single other OS release.

  14. asdf

    >decided calling something “Windows Live” implied the internet was an imperfect bolt-on "experience".

    M$ has considered the internet a bolt on threat from the day one which Bill G at first wanted to have nothing to do with due to its free and open nature. It was only because customers have demanded it they play ball at all and even then they have tried to subvert it at every junction possible (see standards compliance of IE before 2008 or so).

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Windows 8

    Will it crash all the time?

    1. Studley

      Re: Windows 8

      Why not try it and find out? Or is that not in keeping with your pithy remarks?

      I've been testing with the Consumer Preview since it came out, and for all of the accusations that can be thrown at it (Metro is not desktop-ready IMO), crashing isn't one of them.

  16. Tom 35

    Coming soon

    Windows Live Metro .net Passport Hotmail.

    It's everything to everyone.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Coming soon

      Windows8 Live Cloud Skydrive Passport Interwebitubes .net

      Although of course they wont actually register the ".net" domain to any of these names

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    customer confusion

    customers are so stupid, creating all these difficulties,

    Microsoft is planning to move them out of the picture

  18. Ad Fundum

    I don't understand why they don't cut through the crap and give everything one name by which everyone knows and instantly associates with their products:




    ... and so on. Instantly recognizable to everyone.

    1. N2


      That made me chuckle, have a pint on me

  19. Someone Else Silver badge

    Amen, Gavin!

    It’s classic Microsoft, fretting over how something is perceived internally and externally, rather than simply delivering something that works or is wanted.

    And that, in a nutshell, is all you have to know about Microsoft (in case you weren't paying attention these last 2-and-something decades).

    1. Wombling_Free

      Re: Amen, Gavin!

      HEY! Since when can we do italics?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    not sure its a good idea, but MS has been blasted before for the perception of its products rather than its real world use, Win 8 and WP7 being the two most recent examples sooo who knows...

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft Kills Windows Live

    So it's now Windows Dead

    1. philbo

      Re: Microsoft Kills Windows Live

      @Kaiser Soze

      ..damn you, I was going to say that..

      But seeing as you're there.. who is Kaiser Soze?

  22. Richard Plinston

    Windows 8 will be “clod-powered".

    Microsoft will be kicking everyone with their clodhoppers until they buy Windows 8.

  23. MIc

    The El Reg crowd

    For a group of 1337 haxz0r tech grabbing IT ninjas we sure are adverse to new ideas and changes. Windows XP... pffts

  24. Anonymous Coward

    I call BS

    Time and time again do people speculate over stuff which Microsoft does; one party often makes the story even more horrible than the other and this continues until it eventually finds its way into "mainstream media" which, partly because of all the 'hype', now starts to read "between the lines" whenever MS releases a public statement.

    When will the media learn ?

    I mean; come one here... Last 'hype' was that MS was allegedly killing off .NET with the release of Windows 8 because they were said to fully bet on HTML5 and Javascript. Metro would mean the end of .NET as we knew it.

    Well, we all know how that turned out do we? I have the Windows Phone SDK right here; I can develop Metro applications using VB or C# (all within the .NET framework) and it utilizes Silverlight (another development which was said to go) or XNA. Windows 8? VS2011 is said to support HTML5, Javascript, C++, C# and VB. So much for the "end of .NET".

    This is no different IMO. Just like it would be suicide for MS to kill .NET it would be the exact same deal when it comes to Windows Live.

    I have a Live ID which I can use to authenticate with a zillion MS services. From Hotmail to Skydrive right to TechNet and the Office blogs. Or what to think of my Windows Phone? Outlook utilizes Windows Live (Hotmail) to sync its data with my phone. My Windows Phone fully utilizes Windows Live to gain access to storage such as SkyDrive or the online services such as my agenda and contacts (Hotmail). Its an essential part of the whole experience.

    In one story we read how 'desperate' Microsoft is to uphold its MS Phone market; Ballmer is rumored to meet up with LG to "discuss their stance on the Windows Phone" (its a rumor but everyone believes it so it seems).

    Yet on other other hand we're also perfectly willing to believe that they're going to kill a service which is a fundamental part of said Windows Phone environment ?

    Make up your mind already... Better yet: do more research and don't read between the lines.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Isn't the problem their endless confusion over who their customer really is?

    The problem is that Microsoft have failed to identify who their customers truly are. Is it the cool kids with their smartphones, busy tweeting their masturbatory self-aggrandisements? Is it the Reg reader, who needs to install 300 copies of Windows by Thursday but who would much rather be trading witty banter with Verity Stob? Is it the great unwashed masses stuck in their cubes churning out emails and powerpoint decks?

    What we've seen in the last few releases is the infantilization of their product set. I crank out hundreds of emails and documents a week at work and I don't give a stuff about Windows Live .NET MSN Zune Picture Player or whatever it's called this week. I want something that is fast, stable and professional looking.

    I respectfully suggest that the Microsoft team do the following.

    1. Give up trying to chase the cool kids. You can't do it, and it demeans you. Get over it.

    2. Forget about branding the add on products as any other than "Microsoft". Not "Windows Live", "MSN", "Windows SkyDrive" or whatever. You are playing on a field where the Windows name confers no advantage and your apps must compete with everyone else. It should just be Microsoft SkyDrive. Microsoft Instant Messenger. And so on.

    3. For the love of god, produce some themes and customization bundles that mean something more than fluffy clouds on my desktop. When I'm at work, I want to be in power user mode: all the fluffy sh** turned off and everything sacrificed to speed, stability and efficiency. When I'm at home, I don;t mind a little fluff. Go ahead and show me your metro doodah.

    1. N2

      Re: Isn't the problem their endless confusion over who their customer really is?

      Spot on & very aptly put, Im completely fed up with all their cruddy shite.

      Regrettably, the chance of being hired by Microsoft to practise what you preach is of course less than zero!

  26. Hi Wreck

    Cloudy with a chance of showers

    Perhaps the new service will be called l-i-veCloud, without any emphasis on the 'i' of course.

    It does seem fitting. Apple had to re-imagine mobile me too, so this is par for the course for microSoft.

  27. BlueGreen

    straight talking - why I come back to the reg

    "It’s classic Microsoft, fretting over how something is perceived internally and externally, rather than simply delivering something that works or is wanted."


  28. This post has been deleted by its author

  29. Smartypantz

    Hit the fan

    the shit will....

    When the fact that "bing" is utterly idiotic, and the laughing stock of the Internet reaches upper managment at Microsoft in another couple of years :-)

    1. dogged

      Re: Hit the fan

      Thanks for speaking for the entire Internet. Without your comment, the Internet would have nobody to tell Microsoft what every single last user in the entire world thinks. Lucky you were here to go around and ask them all!

      All those web search tables showing Bing at approx. 20% of global searches are just done for fun because it's such a laughing stock, aren't they? And nobody at all will buy Windows 8 so they might as well not bother!

      And Gavin Clarke always knows better than multi-billion dollar companies which is why he's, er... a journalistic nobody? Wait, that can't be right.....

  30. mrfill

    Windows Not Live this and that

    Thank Christ I dont have to put up with all this bollocks.

    Release the penguins...

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never used any of it, so it doesn't even matter.

  32. zen1

    Oh dear

    methinks it's Microsoft who's having the identity crisis, with the mass rebranding & all. Some of their products are rather nice, others not so much. I happened to think that the whole "Live" brand was a bad idea from the get-go. I liked OE over the live mail fat client, because it was straight forward AND there was limited third party support, in the form of reg hacks and various quasi-plugins. Live mail looks like they ripped the user interface out of Microsoft Works (which is a big fat lie, unto itself) and merged it with a lite version of outlook.

    Thanks, but no thanks Steve & co. I'll stay with my xp/win 7 box & office 2003.

    Oh, and the new version of office... Whomever was the person who said "This is a great idea" should be fired.

    As another learned individual stated, some of us don't want glitz and shiney bells & whistles, some of us just one something that works, that's intuitive and helps us be more productive.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ah well farewell....

    I could never figure out if it was pronounced Windows Live or if it was Windows Live...

    1. h4rm0ny

      Re: Ah well farewell....

      "I could never figure out if it was pronounced Windows Live or if it was Windows Live"

      The second.

  34. largefile

    Actually guys..... Microsoft has been making LOTS of great decisions of late. They are doing a pretty good job of executing moving forward from the abyss of the prior decade. Don't be surprised to see them wildly successfull in the coming years. They've done it before and have the resources and talent to do it again. What's still amazing is that they could so totally miss for the better part of a decade. Don't bet on that happening again.

  35. PeterM42

    At least..........

    ..........They don't call it PEACHES or some other fruit.

    Microsoft always were a bit inconsistent with names:

    For example, Windows


    3.11 - Major functionality upgrade (networking)


    98 MAJOR bug-fix for Windows 95

    ME (isn't that a disease?) MAJOR disaster

    NT 4 (First decent Beta for NT. I left out previous versions of NT 'coz they were really only prototypes)

    2000 (NT 5.0) First GOOD release of NT

    XP (NT 5.1) Lots of improvements

    Vista (NT 6.0) TOTAL F***ING DISASTER

    7 (NT 6.1) MAJOR, MAJOR bug-fix for Vista

    8 (NT 6.2) Significant upgrade to support ARM/mobile devices

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least..........

      Windows 8

      you should replace the words "Significant upgrade" to "Total Disaster" mark my words its going to be another ME/Vista

    2. philbo

      Re: At least..........



      >98 MAJOR bug-fix for Windows 95

      I'd have said 95b was the major bug-fix version, but it was also all those things MS said 95 was going to be but wasn't (actually an operating system rather than a DOS device driver, for example; 32-bit file system, that sort of thing). I don't know how many thousand users I had running completely stable for over a decade on 95b PCs - I don't know because they never called for support.

      1. Inachu

        Re: At least..........

        I owned most all the windows 95 versions.


        Of course B was my favorite.

    3. Inachu
      Thumb Up

      Re: At least..........

      7 (NT 6.1) MAJOR, MAJOR bug-fix for Vista

      Windows 7 was a total kernal rewrite.

      Microsoft bought Sysinternals and the sysinternal team tossed out the crap and kept only the good stuff.

      Thats why Windows 7 is so good!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At least..........

      Thank goodness.

      I thought your comment was going to be another:

      "Why is it Windows 8 when it is the xth version since Windows 3.1?"

      Personally I found Win95 ran better than 98, kernel32.dll on 98 was the most unreliable kernel I've ever had the misfortune to use. I was glad to see Win2000.

  36. Sarah Davis

    Great way to kill a product

    msn msgr 4.8 was prob about the best, it was simple, unbloated, and did precisely what was needed of it.

    The problem is that so many companies get greedy, add bloatware, add pointless features, and don't listen to users, and in fact are often uncontactable. This does nothing to install customer/brand loyalty and everything to garuntee customers will start looking for an alternative that is unbloated and simply works.

    'Live' is a classic example of a company so out of touch with it's market. While years ago msn-msgr was the main way i kept in touch with my online friends no-one uses it anymore. It's got worse over time and now it's pretty much pointless (though i concede that some folk may still find it useful - but i bet it's market has shrunk by 50% in the past 5 years) .. and has anyone ever clicked on one of those banner adds? can you remember a single banner advert? - lol

    if your a company that is oriented by greed then you're doing it wrong !

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Great way to kill a product

      Boys and Girls of Mozilla Firefox, are you listening to this? You jolly well ought to be.

  37. fixit_f

    Bill Hicks had it right

  38. Mr Anonymous

    Just drop Windows.

  39. Pat 4

    Demonstrates what I've been saying for years.

    Microsoft hasn't been a software company for a long time.

    They are now, mostly a marketing company... that happens to sell software.

  40. David 18

    'There’s plenty o' talk about how Windows 8 will be “cloud-powered".'

    Give me strength! I never thought I could detest the moniker "Cloud", that every marketing droid who pretends to know about IT drips on about, more than I already do.

    They might as well call it powered by fairy dust.

  41. SpaMster

    Why didnt they just call it windows messenger, windows mail, windows 'whatever' from the start?!?

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I remember Windows for Workgroups 3.11 had all the OS applications you needed built in.

    Email, Scheduler+, Write, Paint, Sound Recorder, Macro Recorder etc. etc.

    Office 4.3 had spreadsheets and word processing without ribbons all under 16mb of RAM (or less!)

    It had a TCP/IP stack, a web browser was available from our friends at Netscape (and later IE up to IE5)

  43. Anonymous Noel Coward

    The only people who I knew on MSN were on IRC.

    So that was reason enough for me to stop using it.

    1. Inachu


      IRC was rockin back then! ahhh the fun times on IRC

  44. Corborg


    Just give me a damn OS with a light footprint and security holes filled in MS. I don't give a crap what apps come bundled with it, there should be none.

    Clean it up, and you'll get respect and recognition. Stick to this Metro crap, and putting more effort into your media player/email client/instant messanger than the OS and we will switch off.


    Phil Urt Askbar

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like