/ Technology

Windows Live is dead, long live the ‘Microsoft account’

Microsoft’s killing off the Windows Live brand, which includes its Hotmail, Messenger and SkyDrive services. The actual services will remain, but they will now be accessed through a ‘Microsoft account’.

Confused? You will be.

Why is Microsoft doing this? According to the company’s blog the aim is to better integrate cloud-based services such as Windows Live into its upcoming Windows 8 operating system, in the same way it plans to integrate antivirus software.

Apparently, once you sign into your shiny new Windows 8 PC, this will give you automatic access to the Microsoft account, which will include email, instant messenger and cloud services. Microsoft’s blog post explains:

‘These services connect to your PC and your Windows phone, they’re accessible from any web browser. Because these services are a part of your Microsoft account, they are shared across all Microsoft products and services; your Windows Phone, Windows 8, Hotmail, Messenger and SkyDrive.’

Does it make sense to kill the Windows Live brand

There’s some logic to what Microsoft is doing. Our Computing Helpdesk often hears from customers with queries concerning Windows Live. Often they don’t understand the difference between Windows Live Mail and Windows Live Hotmail, for example.

The former is an email client, where emails live on your computer; the latter is a webmail service, where your emails live in ‘the cloud’. Presumably, both services will live within the newly-branded Microsoft account.

However, it will be important to make it clear to less experienced users what Microsoft services they can access while online and those that will be unavailable to them when they’re not connected to the web.

Is it just a question of semantics?

There’s nothing new about this concept. I remember when Microsoft first introduced ‘Passport’, its precursor to the Live brand. Microsoft’s vision for its ‘Passport’ was to create a single sign-in to all your web-based services; email, search and third-party services and shops.

Since then the focus has shifted from Passport to the Live brand. And it’s come a long way since its launch in 2005 – Microsoft claims there are 500 million people using services that fall under the Live umbrella. Hotmail has 350 million active users and SkyDrive 130 million.

Is this another name change, or a sea-change?

For those millions of users, including myself, this rebrand raises some questions. Will I still be able to log into my account at Hotmail.com from my Windows 7 PC? I’m guessing the answer’s ‘yes’. And will my email address change to myname@account.com? I think that’s a ‘no’.

And how will this affect consumer choice? If Microsoft’s preloading Windows 8 with links to these account services, will this prevent people seeking out alternatives such as Gmail?

All in all, I can see this strategy makes sense for Microsoft, but the big question remains will it make sense to you and me?


So if windows 8 comes with all the cloud stuff built in, can users turn them off?
Initially it sounds as if microsoft is going the same way as many others, whereby they want user’s information to be stored in their cloud instead of in hard drives/phone memories where they can be refused access by the user?

Why they want this to be the case raises serious questions.
Where is the information stored?
How much access will microsoft have to this information?
What are their motives for wanting to store all this information on behalf of the user instead of the user being in control of it all by storage on hard drives, etc?

I think maybe I should look at starting to use linux operating system on my old trusty PC, I wish to keep control of my own information, I am not interested in any cloud holding my stuff, I do not use an internet phone for this reason also.
I have noticed with outlook for my own private emails, when I set up and run “rules” on incoming mail, outlook downloaded some kind of update automatically which I had to install or the rules would not work. This shows that the outlook running on my system is being monitored in some way.

I’m always warey of companies using my information on cloud set ups, it rarely benefits me and protections given by the company seldom materialise.

Robint says:
24 May 2012

M$ is a control freak and you have to work very hard to keep them at bay. They want to own you and your data then you are a captive customer. I thought M$ would have learnt how much antipathy they had generated amongst the IT savvy. For the average joe soap its all way above his head but you are quite right to raise the spectre of cloud computing. No way would I put my data in someone else’s power

BTW I am still soldiering on with XP because I have so control over what its allowed to do and who it talks to. I found it very much more difficult to stop Vista phoning home to M$ (and other apps also)

Its quite alarming to think that a third party can come in and snoop around your computer at will. Did you know that its not possible to lock a folder in Windows file manager so it cant be viewed without authority

I think you can do this in Unix?

Here’s a thought – China made a ste decision not to use M$ for any of its state business admisnistration etc. It uses Linux. Surely with their huge resources and customer base it can’t be long before China publishes a free killer app that will smash M$ dominance for good.
The only reason Linux hasn’t got far is because it never had any big player investment to make it more friendly

My bet is it wont be long

Dave D says:
4 May 2012

Seems like Msft are doing what Apple did years ago when they set up me.com, which has now been superseded by iCloud.

With Apple you are under no obligation to actually use the service and you have pretty much full control over the details held.

The other system that I am aware of which is very similar sounding is Google in it’s latest form. This is very very invasive and intrusive and it’s very hard to make sure you don’t get your data and personal info all over the web. It is, sadly, inextricable linked tio Android devices (phones being the ones most users are likely to be affected by) and it’s a real pain. I used to have an iPhone, changed to a Motorola Razr because I love the Motorola phones and found the iPhone not quite as good as I hoped, but I shall be going back to an iPhone next time I upgrade simply because of Google’s system.

So, I think Msft are just keeping up with the Joneses … and that rarely means it’s good for us!

Mr Frisbee says:
8 May 2012

Why oh why do Microsoft insist on repeatedly changing things. Think it through at the start and stick to it. They constantly do this in a failed attempt to grow their market share – all it does is confuse people STOP IT. Come up with a naming convention and stick to it. FOOLS!

Janet says:
21 May 2012

I could’nt get an Email address when I put this pc together,I am a novice but I still like what I have got.Windows8 will not change anthing,its just stupid.

Richard says:
5 October 2012

Oh dear another change for a 74 year old to cope with. I successfully used Thunderbird until I changed to a Windows 7 computer when I had difficulty with that program. I would like to change back but fear losing my email files. Previous efforts to migrate from Live Mail to Thunderbird failed! Advice welcome

novice says:
19 September 2013

When I bought a new laptop with Windows 8 installed I found that it was linked to the MS Live account for email. So should I cancel the Waitrose broadband account which I already had? If I do cancel the Waitrose account will I still be connected to broadband and thus be able to send/receive emails?