Windows Live, R.I.P.

Windows Live appears to be on its last legs, with Windows 8 ushering in a new generation of monosyllabic, Metrofied analogs. Here's a scorecard of what's changing

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  • Windows Live Calendar has already appeared in numerous Metro demos as Calendar. Windows Live Contacts is now called People. Windows Live Photo Gallery morphs into Photos. Perhaps someone discovered that putting the full name of all of those apps on Metro-size tiles would drive the display font down to about 4 points. At any rate, at this point, nobody knows what the tile-ized applications will look like.
  • Windows Live Messenger sits perched in a particularly precarious position, with Lync on one side and Microsoft Skype on the other. It's been integrated in various degrees into all sorts of sites and apps, including Internet Explorer, Hotmail, SkyDrive, Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Windows Live Photo Ga -- er, Photos, Bing, Xbox Live, Windows Phone, the Zune (which is also biting the dust) and it's available for iPhone and iPad from the Apple App Store. It looks like Windows Live Messenger will be called Messaging, or perhaps Messenger, but it's ripe for inclusion in either Skype or Lync or both.

Tom Warren at The Verge quotes unnamed sources as saying that Messaging, Mail, Calendar, and People "are designed to be core Windows communications apps," although that characterization has to make one wonder where Skype fits into the mix. Warren also says that "the Music and Video applications are currently branded with Zune, but are built by the Xbox team. We are hearing that this branding will be removed shortly before the Windows 8 release, moving to Xbox Live for Windows as the entertainment brand for Windows 8 Music, Video and Games." One must also wonder why Xbox would retain the recently dearly departed "Live" designation.

Missing in action, so far: Windows Live Family Safety, Windows Live Movie Maker, and Windows Live Writer. It's easy to imagine Live Writer going away, absorbed by Word 15 and the new SkyDrive. But the other two aren't so readily dismissed.

We also have no idea which, if any, of the new Live-less apps will ship with Windows 8, and which will have to be downloaded from the Windows Store. Microsoft may not make that decision until it's close to the final release.

There are much greater concerns, of course. What happens to the Windows Live programs that run on Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 7? Remember, the ones that existed before we'd ever heard of Metro tiles? Is Microsoft going to pour any money into improving those "legacy" apps -- particularly when the revenue from all of them put together probably wouldn't pay Bing's bills for a day? If it won't run on a tile, will Microsoft turn a blind eye?

Compare and contrast with Apple's branding. We have iMail (formerly known as iMail, then iMail, and uh iMail, and iMail) and iTunes (aka iTunes, iTunes, and ... you get the idea). The toughest rebranding hurdle Apple customers had to clear came when the term "Mac OS" turned into "OS."

This story, "Windows Live, R.I.P.," was originally published at Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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