Redmond, Washington -- With Windows 8 just around the corner, software maker Microsoft on Wednesday said that it is finally prepared to discard its “Windows Live” moniker for the company's suite of online services like mail, messaging, syncing and account management.
As a result of this latest initiative, the Redmond, Wash.-based company has come up with a new, simply named, Microsoft Account, which will be an integral part of the upcoming Windows 8, the software giant said in a blog post, and will be rolling out over the next few months across Microsoft's product line.
The software giant noted that as it is ditching the “Windows Live” brand and looking to integrate all Windows services into a single Microsoft account. Similar to Google's recent approach of using a single Google+ login for a jumble of Web services, Windows 8 users will use a Microsoft account to sign into a PC or tablet. The Microsoft account will also be used to check billing within the Windows 8 app store as well as Zune and Xbox LIVE services. However, Microsoft accounts would not be linked with Hotmail and users are free to use any email address to activate a new Microsoft account. In addition, users will be able to create a list of trusted devices tied to the account.
As described on the Microsoft Developer Network “Building Windows 8” blog, Steven Sinofsky, president of Microsoft's Windows and Windows Live division, circulated a post authored by Chris Jones, a vice president of Microsoft's Window's Live group, that provided some of the reasoning behind this decision. Jones states that although Windows Live services are successful, their branding does not fit into Microsoft's vision for a fully connected, cloud-centered Windows 8 experience.
In fact, many of the Windows Live services are merely being renamed to a generic equivalent for the sake of simplicity. For example, MSN Messenger will become “Messaging App,” Windows Contacts will become the “People App,” Windows Live Mail and Outlook Express will become the “Mail App,” Windows Live Photo Gallery and Windows Live Movie Maker will become the “Photos app, Photo Gallery and Movie Maker,” and Windows Calendar will become the “Calendar App.” Designed for continuity across devices, these new names will be the same on Windows 8 computers, Windows Phone devices and the Web version of Live.com.
As a result, this spread some “customer confusion,” Jones wrote, something Microsoft hopes to eradicate with the release of Windows 8 later this year. “Windows 8 provides us with an opportunity to re-imagine our approach to services and software and to design them to be a seamless part of the Windows experience, accessible in Windows desktop apps, Windows Metro style apps, standard web browsers, and on mobile devices.”
Beyond simple branding, Microsoft is also pushing the cloud computing features that will be more than skin deep though; the revamped Windows Live services will be tightly integrated into the coming Windows 8 operating system Microsoft account.
According to Sinofsky, “When you connect a device or service to your Microsoft account, you are automatically provisioned with a set of cloud services, including a contact list, calendar, inbox, instant messaging, and cloud storage. Of course these services connect to your PC and your Windows Phone, they are accessible from any web browser, and they are accessible to different apps if the developer of the app implements our API.”
Moreover, according to Jones, explaining the cloud component of Windows 8, modern devices are all-encompassing, with no separate branding to break up the experience, which will share data across Microsoft products.
“For instance, your contact list is distributed across Windows Phone, Windows 8, Hotmail, Messenger, and SkyDrive, so when you add a contact in one place, it will be displayed in the cloud and on all of your connected devices and services,” he wrote.
This works pretty well on different PCs, too. “Log in to a new PC and begin right where you left off,” Jones said.
A Microsoft account can also be linked with other third party services, such as LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter, allowing you to email or call contacts from these services directly.
To find more about the changes and see the new Windows 8 syncing features in action, be sure to watch the video on the Windows 8 below.