Windows Live

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Windows Live was the brand name for a set of services and software products from Microsoft; part of their software plus services platform. In April 2013, the website was closed down. A majority of these services are Web applications, accessible from a browser, but there are also client-side binary applications that require installation. There are three ways in which Windows Live services are offered: Windows Essentials applications, web services, and mobile services.[1]

Microsoft said that Windows Live "is a way to extend the Windows user experience".[2] Windows Vista provides a link in its user interface to download Windows Live Messenger, and Windows 7 saw the removal of applications such as Windows Mail, Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Movie Maker and replaced with the Windows Essentials suite, a software package that allows the downloading and installation of similar offerings from Windows Live.[3] Microsoft announced that Windows 8 will see Windows Live apps included right out of the box, and will include built-in synchronization technologies powered by SkyDrive.[4]

Besides Windows Live, which is mainly aimed at individuals,[5] there are some other Web properties from Microsoft that are branded as "Live": Xbox LIVE multiplayer gaming and content delivery system for Xbox and Xbox 360, and the Games for Windows - LIVE multiplayer gaming service for Microsoft Windows. Another "Live" service, Office Live, was converged into Windows Live during the Wave 4 update, when Microsoft merged Office Live into the Windows Live team in January 2009.[6]

The Windows Live brand was phased out during August 2012; coinciding with the RTM of Windows 8. Most services kept their name, but with the removal of "Windows Live" in front of them.


Windows Live was first announced on November 1, 2005. In its initial release, several Windows Live properties were rebranded and enhanced from Microsoft's MSN set of products and services. However, MSN still exists alongside Windows Live as a means of delivering content. (as opposed to customized content and communications.).[5] In May 2012 Microsoft began renaming Windows Live services, partly in anticipation of Windows 8, which will integrate many of the Windows Live products and services into the operating system.[7]


Online services[edit]

Admin CenterProvides e-mail hosting for web site owners. As of 2014, this service is still using Wave 4 user interface.
CalendarTime management service that allow users to organize appointments, schedule meetings, set reminders, and share their calendar events.
Outlook.comFree webmail service using AJAX technology featuring email, People and calendar services.
IDIdentity single sign-on service that allows users to log into various Microsoft products and services. Users can manage their accounts and link multiple IDs together using this service.
PeopleThe address book service, which allows users to keep track and synchronize their contact's information. Allow users to add contacts from other social networks including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, Flickr and soon Sina Weibo and Skype to their Microsoft account.
Plug-ins[citation needed]A central repository for collections of developer plug-ins for Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Live Writer.
ProfileAllow users to manage their profile information and displays information about the particular user, their recent activities, and their relationship with other Windows Live users.
Service Status[citation needed]Allow users to get information about the current performance of Microsoft services, as well as checking the history of service statuses during the past 14 days.
SkyDrivePassword-protected online file storage and sharing, includes management of photos and Office documents. Also allow users to view and edit Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents directly in the web browser using Office Web Apps, and allow sharing and co-authoring of these documents with other users.

Software applications[edit]

Main article: Windows Essentials

Windows Essentials (formerly Windows Live Essentials) is a suite of software applications that aims to offer integrated e-mail, instant messaging, photo-sharing, blog publishing, and security services. Essentials programs are designed to integrate well with each other, with the Windows operating system, and with other Windows Live web-based services such as SkyDrive and, so that they operate as a “seamless whole”.[8]

Family SafetyParental Controls similar to Windows Vista's Family Safety featureFinal
MailDesktop mail and calendar client designed to succeed Outlook Express on Windows XP and Windows Mail on Windows Vista, with full RSS supportFinal
Movie MakerVideo editing software similar to Windows Movie Maker with additional enhancements that makes home video editing easierFinal
Photo GallerySimilar to Windows Photo Gallery with additional enhancements that make posting photos to SkyDrive and Facebook easierFinal
WriterDesktop blog publishing tool that can publish to popular blogging services and make use of SkyDrive for photo storage.Final

Mobile services[edit]

Windows Phone[edit]

Main article: My Windows Phone

My Windows Phone is a free online companion service for Windows Phone mobile devices that provides users with a free mobile phone back-up solution by wirelessly synchronizing contacts, calendar appointments, photos, and OneNote notebooks with a password-protected online portal. Users can access and manage their information stored on their Windows Phone devices via the online portal using their Microsoft account, as well as accessing a set of features for remotely ringing, locking, mapping, and erasing their lost phones. This service integrates tightly with other Windows Live services including People, Calendar, and SkyDrive.[9]


Microsoft released a Windows Live Messenger application on the iOS App Store, which allows users on mobile devices running the iOS to communicate with their contacts via the Microsoft Messenger service. In addition to the instant messaging functionalities, the application also allows users to view their Messenger social feed, view their friends' Profile's, and integrate with Hotmail and Photos.

Feature phone[edit]

Windows Live also provides customised services specifically created for feature phones. It is offered via three channels — through Client-based (for Windows Mobile and other supported mobile devices such as Nokia phones), Web-based (for WAP or GPRS-enabled mobile web browsers), or SMS-based services.[10]

Mobile ServiceClientWebSMSExchange ActiveSyncDescriptionStatus
Calendar MobileB-check.svgB-check.svgYellow check.svgWeb-based version of Calendar designed for mobile devices to view, schedule and manage calendar appointments and events. SMS service for users to query today and tomorrow's appointments in their calendarFinal
People MobileB-check.svgB-check.svgB-check.svgYellow check.svgWeb-based version of People designed for mobile devices for access to contact information. Client-based version allows integration of the contact list with the mobile device's address book. Also allow users to query contact information via SMSFinal
Windows Live Groups MobileB-check.svgWeb-based version of Windows Live Groups designed for mobile devicesFinal MobileB-check.svgB-check.svgB-check.svgYellow check.svgWeb- and client-based version of that targets mobile devices, and allow new email alerts via SMSFinal
Windows Live Messenger MobileB-check.svgB-check.svgB-check.svgWeb- and client-based version of Windows Live Messenger that is designed for mobile devices, and allow users to send instant messages via SMSFinal
Windows Live Profile MobileB-check.svgView and update user's own Windows Live Profile information using a mobile deviceFinal
Microsoft SkyDrive MobileB-check.svgB-check.svgWeb-based version of SkyDrive designed for mobile devices for accessing documents stored on the cloud. Client-based version allows upload of photos directly from a mobile phone camera.Final

Search services[edit]

Main article: Bing

Bing, a replacement of the search engine Live Search, was originally named Windows Live Search (and MSN Search prior to that) and was once part of the Windows Live family of services. Windows Live Search once occupied the homepage of, the domain for all Windows Live services. However, on March 21, 2007, Microsoft decided to separate its search developments from its Windows Live services family, forming part of the Live Search and Ad Platform. As part of this reorganization, the new search brand, Live Search, was consolidated with Microsoft adCenter, a part of Microsoft's Platform and Systems division.[11] However, Microsoft recognised that there was a brand issue as the word "Live" continued to remain in the brand.[12] As an effort to create a new identity for Microsoft's search services, on June 3, 2009, Live Search was officially rebranded as Bing.[13]

Developer services[edit]

Main article: Live Connect

Live Connect is a collection of APIs and common controls that allow developers to have a deeper control and offers access to the core Windows Live services and data through open and easily accessible application programming interfaces (APIs). Live Connect is built on standard web technologies such as OAuth 2.0, Representational State Transfer (REST), and JavaScript Object Notation (JSON), and is designed to work with any technology or device. Live Connect unites the previously separate APIs of Windows Live into a single API that is based on industry standards and specifications.

Discontinued products and services[edit]

NameReplaced ByDescriptionDiscontinued Date
Admin CenterMicrosoft Office 365It enabled users with domain names to change their domain MX record(s) (mail server records) so that all features of will be available on their own domain names.10 April 2014
AgentsInteractive chatterbots through Windows Live Messenger that allow users to get more information about specific topics.30 June 2009
AlertsSend information updates to the user's email inbox, mobile device or Messenger.30 September 2010
BarcodeMicrosoft Tag2D barcodes that can be used to store information or link to the mobile web.
CallSkypeAllow users to make PC-to-PC and PC-to-Phone (Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)) voice and video calls.1 June 2010
DevicesIntegrated into SkyDriveAn online device management service that will allow users to centrally access and manage the synchronisation of files stored on their computers and mobile devices. Windows Live Devices will also allow users to remotely access their computers from the internet via their web browser.?
EventsWindows Live Groups
Manage and plan different types of events and share them with others using Calendar, Spaces and Alerts.3 September 2009
ExpoAllow users to post online classifieds and search for listings posted by other users.31 July 2008
FavoritesSkyDriveSynchronizes the user's favorites between computers and allows for the sharing of favorites.14 April 2009
FrameItExtends the functionality of digital photo frame devices, allowing users to customise the content delivery from multiple sources such as RSS feeds.15 December 2010
GalleryWindows Live Plug-insA center for collections of developers' add-ons for Windows Live Messenger, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Writer, Toolbar, Spaces, and, as well as Windows 7 and Windows Vista Sidebar and SideShow gadgets.1 October 2011
GroupsIntegrated into SkyDriveEnable users to create their social groups for sharing, discussion and coordination.?
HomeProvides a central location to access Windows Live services, monitor status information, and navigate to other Windows Live sites and services.18 February 2013
Help CommunityMicrosoft AnswersCollection of forums and message boards to communicate with other users of Windows Live products.6 June 2008
MeshOneDriveFile sharing and synchronization service based on FolderShare and Live Mesh technologies. Supports PC-to-PC and PC-to-Cloud synchronisation, and supports synchronisation of program settings such as Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office between multiple computers. Also allow users to remotely access their computers via the internet.2012
(Except China Mainland)
An instant messaging client which allows users to communicate online.8 April 2013
Messenger CompanionAn add-in for Internet Explorer that allow users to share a webpage with their friends on Windows Live, see links to webpages the user's friends have shared and comment on these shared pages.2012
Office Live WorkspaceOffice OnlineOffers 5GB of storage space for storing Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook documents and lists online and sharing them with others. Office Live Workspace does not offer collaboration or editing capabilities however.21 January 2011
OneCareMicrosoft Security EssentialsComputer Security Service. Features its own Anti-Virus program, back-up utility, and a software firewall.30 June 2009
OneCare Safety ScannerMicrosoft Safety ScannerFree PC scanning and health service to help delete viruses and other threats. Includes registry cleaner, disk cleaner and defragmenter, network open port scanner, and comprehensive virus and spyware scanner.15 April 2011
Personalized ExperienceMy MSNAn all-in-one home page featuring a customisable RSS aggregator, gadgets and search tools.30 March 2010
(now discontinued)
A question and answer service which allow users to ask questions, tag them according to topic, and gain points and reputation for answering other users' questions.21 May 2009
Search CenterWindows Search 4
(now part of Windows Vista and Windows 7)
A desktop search program which provides a unified local and remote indexed search from a unified interface.12 December 2006
ShoppingBing ShoppingAn online shopping comparison website which allowed users to compare items and prices of over 40 million products from more than 7000 online stores.20 February 2007
SpacesMigration to WordPress or Sina blogs in ChinaA blog and social networking service which allows users to create personalized blogs, add friends, and upload photos.16 March 2011
Sync and Live MeshOneDriveFile synchronization which allow files and folders between two or more computers be in sync with each other or with the cloud storage on the web. Live Mesh also enables remote desktop access via the internet using a web browser.31 March 2011
TVAn additional program for Windows Media Center which will provide access to Windows Live Spaces, Messenger, and Call on large-screen monitors or TVs.24 June 2008
ToolbarBing BarA toolbar which adds itself to Windows Internet Explorer, allowing quick access to a user's Windows Live Spaces, Hotmail, Favorites and Live Search from a button on the toolbar.31 March 2011
Video MessagesSkypeCombines digital video with e-mail into a service that allows all webcam users to create, send, and receive video messages to anyone in their contact list, even when they are offline.21 July 2010
Web MessengerNow part of all Windows Live web servicesOnline version of Windows Live Messenger which allow users to talk online and in real-time with others using the Microsoft Messenger service from within a web browser.30 October 2008
WiFi CenterAllow users to search for wireless networks that are available and displays information about them.16 February 2007
WiFi Hotspot LocatorMSN WiFi Hotspots
(now discontinued)
A website which allowed users to locate wireless internet hotspots worldwide and view their positions on a map using Bing Maps.16 February 2007

Windows Live Butterfly[edit]

The Windows Live Butterfly awards program (formerly the MSN Butterfly program) was a program whose members were given the benefit of new Microsoft software to test before the beta releases went public and they were in direct contact with the program managers for Windows Live products.

Microsoft had initiated the Windows Live Butterfly program in order to recognize the contributions made by exemplary beta testers. Prospective 'butterflies' were selected by the Windows Live product team and were nominated for a term of one year, after which they could be renominated.[14]

The Windows Live Butterfly program was closed in June 2009.

User interface[edit]

All Windows Live websites sport a common theme. Different themes have been used on the sites with each phase of product release, called "Waves." Each Wave has a set of online services and desktop programs (Windows Essentials). The web services are labelled by each Wave, for example, Hotmail Wave 4. The programs from Windows Essentials are usually called by a year number, for example, Windows Live Messenger 2011.

Blue Vapor/Flair[edit]

The Windows Live Flair header

Most original Windows Live applications and services used a visual theme known as Blue Vapor or Flair. This theme no longer exists on any of the current Windows Live properties.

Wave 2[edit]

Windows Live 2.0 header

With the public beta release of the Windows Live Wave 2 Suite[15] ("Wave" refers to the group or wave of products to be released), a new visual theme was released to enable the Aero transparency effect in Windows Vista.[16] This theme no longer exists on any of the current Windows Live properties.

Wave 3[edit]

Windows Live 3.0 header

Microsoft released a set of new themes for their Windows Live Wave 3 services, which allows users to customize their pages on Windows Live using a set of pre-selected background pictures. Several of these themes are dynamic and change according to the time of day and the current weather condition of the user.[17] This theme remains in use on sites such as Windows Live Admin Center.

Wave 4[edit]

Windows Live Wave 4 header

In addition to the themes provided in Windows Live Wave 3, the release of Windows Live Wave 4 provided additional themes for users to customise their pages on Windows Live, with several dynamic themes that changes according to the time of day and weather conditions at the user's location. Several of these newly added themes are similar to wallpapers originating from Windows 7.[18] In addition, the Windows Live Wave 4 header features a reorganised dynamic navigation menu that displays the number of the user's current online contacts and the number of unread e-mails,[19] as well as an in-built Windows Live Web Messenger service allowing users to connect to the Microsoft Messenger service and Facebook chat service to chat with their online contacts while browsing any Windows Live properties using a web browser.[20] This theme remains in use on sites such as Family Safety.

Wave 5[edit]

Windows Live Wave 5 header

All Windows Live Metro-styled apps for Windows 8 are designed using the Metro-style user interface.[21] All web services also feature a new Metro-style user interface and stop using "Windows Live" in their names. The UI's header contains a pull-down element with allow users to easily switch to, People, Calendar, and SkyDrive. The header's color also changes depending on the web service the user is using, with the exception of which allow users to customize the header's color according to their preference. The new interface also has an in-built Messaging sidebar that allow users to view presence of, instant message, audio call and video call their contacts on Messenger, Facebook chat, as well as Skype.

Renamed services[edit]

The Windows Live services are renamed as listed:[22]

Service typeService namePrevious nameWebsiteDesktop appMetro-style appWindows Phone app
AccountMicrosoft accountWindows Live ID, into Windows 8Microsoft account
StorageOneDriveFolderShare, Live Mesh, SkyDriveonedrive.comOneDriveOneDrive appOneDrive app, Office app
EmailOutlook.comHotmailoutlook.comLive Mail, OutlookMail appMail app
CalendarCalendarHotmail Calendar, Live Mail, OutlookCalendar appCalendar app
ContactsPeopleLive Mail, OutlookPeople appPeople app
ChatSkypeLive Messenger, MSN Messengerskype.comSkypeSkype appSkype app
Web-based chatIntegrated into all servicesWeb MessengerN/AN/AN/AN/A
Photos/VideosIntegrated into OneDriveLive PhotosN/APhoto Gallery, Movie MakerPhotos appPhotos app, Camera Roll

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Windows Live Wave 3 Reviewers Guide". Microsoft PressPass. 2008-11-12. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  2. ^ Thurrott, Paul (2006-01-18). "Windows Live Preview". Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  3. ^ "The Complete Windows Experience – Windows 7 + Windows Live". The Windows Blog. 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  4. ^ "Windows 8 Developer Preview Guide". Microsoft. 2011-09-13. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  5. ^ a b "Microsoft Previews New Windows Live and Office Live Services (press release)". Microsoft PressPass. 2005-11-01. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  6. ^ "Looking ahead and bringing you even more". Office Live Workspace Team Blog. 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  7. ^ Stross, Randall (May 27, 2012). "Goodbye to Windows Live (and Whatever It Meant)". The New York Times (New York Times). 
  8. ^ Microsoft Seeks Testers for Windows Live Essentials
  9. ^ Windows Phone 7 – Getting Connected
  10. ^ "Windows Live for mobile Wave 3 – take your social life on the go". 2008-11-14. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  11. ^ Foley, Mary Jo (2007-03-21). "Microsoft severs Live Search from the rest of the Windows Live family". ZDNet: All About Microsoft. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  12. ^ Keynote with Kevin Johnson at Microsoft
  13. ^ Singel, Ryan (2009-05-28). "Hands On With Microsoft's New Search Engine: Bing, But No Boom". Wired. 
  14. ^ Excerpt of Windows Live Butterfly acceptance e-mail from Windows Live Beta Team
  15. ^ "Windows Live 2.0 Release Notes". Microsoft. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  16. ^ "The Death of Flair — Windows Live's New Look". 2007-06-15. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  17. ^ "Windows Live Wave 3: New Header UI". 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  18. ^ "Recapping the rumors: what we "know" about Wave 4". 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  19. ^ "More information about Windows Live Wave 4’s dynamic header". 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  20. ^ "A new wave, a new look: First look at the Windows Live Wave 4 header". 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  21. ^ Inside Windows Live: A Preview of Windows Live for Windows 8
  22. ^ "Cloud services for Windows 8 and Windows Phone: Windows Live, reimagined - Building Windows 8 - Site Home - MSDN Blogs". 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 

External links[edit]