Microsoft will retire the Windows Live brand as it tries to create a more connected set of online consumer services with the launch of its Windows 8 operating system.
Curently, "Windows Live" refers to software for PCs (Windows Live Essentials), a suite of web-based services (Hotmail, SkyDrive, and Messenger), an account relationship with Microsoft (Windows Live ID), and a host of other offers.
Microsoft said that all these have created some amount of confusion to users. So for now on, the company will implement the "Microsoft account" as an identity service for individuals who use Microsoft products and services. A Microsoft account could be used to sign in to a Windows 8 PC, and then be used again to check billing for services like Xbox LIVE, Zune, and the Windows 8 app store. A Microsoft account will be also connected to each users' Xbox gamer tag. Users will be also able to sign up for a Microsoft account with any email address, and provide additional verification information including their mobile phone number and a list of their trusted devices.
Microsoft will be rolling out the change in nomenclature from Windows Live ID to Microsoft account over the next several months across its entire product line.
In Windows 8 PCs, pre-installed applications that will have both local and cloud components include Microsoft Account, SkyDrive, Mail, Calendar, People (contacts), Messaging and Photos/Videos.
Microsoft plans to shed their existing names, including Windows Live ID, Windows Live Mail, Windows Calendar, Windows Contacts, MSN Messenger, Windows Live Photo Gallery and Movie Maker.
It will also be possible to link the Microsoft Account with third-party online services, like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, in a way that a single list of contacts is maintained not only across Microsoft products but is also augmented by contacts from these other sites.