The latest beta version of Windows Live Essentials was released today — do you have any idea what the “Live” means in the Windows Live brand? Don’t know? Join the club; no one else does, either. It’s time for Microsoft to finally put the “Live” name to death.

Windows Live is the name that Microsoft uses for a wide variety of software and services, ranging from Hotmail to Messenger, to its SkyDrive cloud-storage service, and the whole Windows Live Essentials suite. That suite is made up of software for making movies, handling photos, synching folders, handling your mail, and protecting your family.

What does movie-making software have to do with a file synchronization service? In a word, nothing. What does photo handling software have to do with family-protection software? Again, nothing. The only connection they all have is they are from Microsoft, they’re available in the same download, and they’re all given the Windows Live Essentials brand.

Microsoft has never really been clear on what the word “Live” is supposed to be used for. At one point, it seemed to be used for Web-based services, rather than downloadable software. That’s clearly no longer the case, because the brand now includes downloadable software as well.

In fact, the “Live” brand is now so broad as to be thoroughly meaningless. And because of that, people may overlook some very good pieces of software, because they ignore the brand. As I write in my review of Windows Live Essentials, that suite includes Windows Live Sync, free folder synchronization software that works with PCs and Macs, and is just about the best syncer you can get.

Cleaning up the Live branding may also help Microsoft focus better on cloud-based services as well. There’s no reason that movie making software should be on the same development cycle as folder-synchronization software. Cloud-based services should be constantly revved; movie making software need not be. By linking them together, Microsoft does itself a disservice. It’s time to either kill the “Live” brand completely, or else only apply it to Web-based services, and put other software on a separate cycle.

Advertisements