Windows Live

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search

Windows Live is a discontinued brand name for a set of web services and software products from Microsoft as part of their software plus services platform. Chief components under the brand name include web services (all of which are exposed through corresponding web apps), several computer programs that interact with the services, and specialized web services for mobile devices.[1][dead link]

According to Microsoft, Windows Live "is a way to extend the Windows user experience".[2] As such, Windows Vista's welcome screen provides a link to download Windows Live Messenger or subscribe to Windows Live OneCare. Also, Windows Mail, Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Movie Maker were not offered with Windows 7 and became an exclusive part of 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] The Windows Live brand was phased out during August 2012, when Windows 8 was release to manufacturing. Active Windows Live services remained active but were gradually renamed.

In addition to Windows Live, which is mainly aimed at individuals,[5] there are other Microsoft properties branded as "Live", including Xbox LIVE (a multiplayer gaming and content delivery system for Xbox), Games for Windows - LIVE (multiplayer gaming service for Microsoft Windows) and Office Live. The latter was merged into Windows Live during the Wave 4 update. Microsoft merged Office Live into the Windows Live team in January 2009.[6]


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 integrates many of the Windows Live products and services into the operating system.[7]


Online services[edit]

The following services were once part of Windows Live but are still online even though the brand name is dropped.

NameLater renamed toWebsiteDescription
Admin CenterN/ e-mail hosting for web site owners. As of 2014, this service is still using Wave 4 user interface. Discontinued but not offline yet.
CalendarN/ web app that allow users to organize appointments, schedule meetings, set reminders, and share their calendar events.
HotmailOutlook.comoutlook.comFree webmail service using AJAX technology
IDMicrosoft single sign-on service, allowing users to log into various Microsoft products and services with the same credentials. Users can manage their accounts and link multiple IDs together using this service.
SearchBingbing.comMicrosoft search engine and advertisement platform.
PeopleN/ 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.
ProfileN/ users to manage their profile information and displays information about the particular user, their recent activities, and their relationship with other Windows Live users.
OfficeOffice Web Apps, Office Onlineoffice.comFree-to-use web app versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote.
Password-protected file hosting service. Enables file sharing and content synchronization. Can preview images, Microsoft Office documents and ZIP files. Integrates tightly with Office Web Apps and to serve as an online storage for their needs.
Service statusN/ diagnostics web page that Microsoft uses to announce the status of its online services. It gathers a status history.[8]

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 ServiceOffered throughExchange ActiveSync support?DescriptionStatus
Calendar MobileYesYesYesWeb-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 MobileYesYesYesYesWeb-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 MobileYesWeb-based version of Windows Live Groups designed for mobile devicesFinal MobileYesYesYesYesWeb- and client-based version of that targets mobile devices, and allow new email alerts via SMSFinal
Windows Live Messenger MobileYesYesYesWeb- 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 MobileYesView and update user's own Windows Live Profile information using a mobile deviceFinal
Microsoft SkyDrive MobileYesYesWeb-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.


Microsoft has released several computer programs with "Windows Live" brand, a summary of which is included below. All except Windows Live OneCare are freeware and published in a software suite called Windows Essentials (formerly Windows Live Essentials). Essentials programs are designed to integrate well with each other, within Windows, and with other Windows Live services such as OneDrive and[14] Windows Live OneCare on the other hand, was a commercial consumers utility marketed with a software as a service licensing model.

Family SafetyParental controls similar to Windows Vista's Family Safety featureIntegrated into Windows 8 and later[15]
MailDesktop mail and calendar client designed to succeed Outlook Express on Windows XP and Windows Mail on Windows Vista, with full RSS supportIntegrated into Windows 8 and later[15]
Movie MakerA video editing program for consumersDiscontinued
MessengerInstant messaging appReplaced by Skype
Messenger CompanionAn add-in for Internet Explorer that allows 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.Discontinued
OneCareA suite of computer security programs with antivirus program, backup utility, and a personal firewall.Discontinued; functionality is partially offered by Microsoft Security Essentials, Windows Defender, System Center Endpoint Protection, Windows Backup and Windows Firewall.
ToolbarA toolbar plug-in for Windows Internet Explorer, which allows quick access to a user's Windows Live Spaces, Hotmail, Favorites and Live Search from a button on the toolbar.Replaced by Bing Desktop and Bing Bar
Photo GalleryImage organizer that make posting photos to SkyDrive and Facebook easierDiscontinued
WriterDesktop blog publishing tool that can publish to popular blogging services and make use of SkyDrive for photo storage.Discontinued

Discontinued services[edit]

NameDescriptionReplaced ByDiscontinued Date
Admin CenterEnabled 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.Microsoft Office 36510 April 2014
AgentsInteractive chatterbots through Windows Live Messenger that allowed users to get more information about specific topics.N/A30 June 2009
AlertsSent information updates to the user's email inbox, mobile device or Messenger.N/A30 September 2010
Barcode2D barcodes that can be used to store information or link to the mobile web.Microsoft TagNever launched
CallAllowed users to make PC-to-PC and PC-to-Phone voice and video calls.Skype1 June 2010
DevicesAn online device management service that allowed users to centrally access and manage the synchronisation of files stored on their computers and mobile devices. Also allowed users to remotely access their computers from the internet via their web browser.Integration into OneDrive?
EventsEnabled managing and planing different types of events and share them with others using Calendar, Spaces and Alerts.Windows Live Groups
(now discontinued)
3 September 2009
ExpoAllowed users to post online classifieds and search for listings posted by other users.N/A31 July 2008
FavoritesSynchronized the user's favorites between computers and allows for the sharing of favorites.OneDrive14 April 2009
FrameItExtended the functionality of digital photo frame devices, allowing users to customise the content delivery from multiple sources such as RSS feeds.N/A15 December 2010
GalleryA 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.Windows Live Plug-ins
1 October 2011
GroupsEnabled users to create their social groups for sharing, discussion and coordination.Integration into OneDrive?
HomeProvided a central location to access Windows Live services, monitor status information, and navigate to other Windows Live sites and services.N/A18 February 2013
Help CommunityCollection of forums and message boards that allowed communication with other users of Windows Live products.Microsoft Answers6 June 2008
MeshFile sharing and synchronization service based on FolderShare and Live Mesh technologies. Supported PC-to-PC and PC-to-Cloud synchronisation, and synchronisation of program settings such as Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office between multiple computers. Also allowed users to remotely access their computers via the internet.OneDrive2012
Office Live WorkspaceOffered 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 did not offer collaboration or editing capabilities however.Office Online21 January 2011
OneCare Safety ScannerFree PC scanning and health service to help delete viruses and other threats. Included a registry cleaner, disk cleaner and defragmenter, network open port scanner, and comprehensive virus and spyware scanner.Microsoft Safety Scanner15 April 2011
Personalized ExperienceAn all-in-one home page featuring a customisable RSS aggregator, gadgets and search tools.My MSN30 March 2010
Plug-ins[16]A central repository for collections of developer plug-ins for Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Live Writer.N/A?
QnAA question and answer service which allowed users to ask questions, tag them according to topic, and gain points and reputation for answering other users' questions.MSN QnA
(now discontinued)
21 May 2009
Search CenterA desktop search program which provided a unified local and remote indexed search from a unified interface.Windows Search 4
(now part of Windows Vista and Windows 7)
12 December 2006
ShoppingAn online shopping comparison website which allowed users to compare items and prices of over 40 million products from more than 7000 online stores.Bing Shopping
(now discontinued)
20 February 2007
SpacesA blog and social networking service which allowed users to create personalized blogs, add friends, and upload photos.Migration to WordPress or Sina blogs in China16 March 2011
Sync and Live MeshFile synchronization which allowed 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 enabled remote desktop access via the internet using a web browser.OneDrive31 March 2011
TVAn additional program for Windows Media Center which provided access to Windows Live Spaces, Messenger, and Call on large-screen monitors or TVs.N/A24 June 2008
Video MessagesCombined digital video with e-mail into a service that allowed all webcam users to create, send, and receive video messages to anyone in their contact list, even when they are offline.Skype21 July 2010
Web MessengerOnline version of Windows Live Messenger which allowed users to talk online and in real-time with others from within a web browser.Integration into all services30 October 2008
WiFi CenterAllowed users to search for wireless networks that are available and displays information about them.N/A16 February 2007
WiFi Hotspot LocatorA website which allowed users to locate wireless internet hotspots worldwide and view their positions on a map using Bing Maps.MSN WiFi Hotspots
(now discontinued)
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.[17][dead link]

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[18] ("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.[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] 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,[22] 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.[23] This theme remains in use on sites such as Family Safety.

Wave 5[edit]

Windows Live Wave 5 header

All Windows Live apps for Windows 8 are designed with a Metro-style user interface.[24] 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 OneDrive. 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.

In February 2014, Wave 5 services and Office Web Apps were consolidated and rebranded as Office Online.[25]

Renamed services[edit]

The Windows Live services are renamed as listed:[15]

Service typeService namePrevious nameWebsiteDesktop appMetro-style appWindows Phone app
SearchBingSearchbing.comBing Toolbar, Bing DesktopBing[26]Bing Mobile
AccountMicrosoft accountID, into Windows 8Microsoft account
StorageOneDriveFolderShare, Mesh, SkyDriveonedrive.comOneDrive (Integrated into Windows 8.1)OneDriveOneDrive, Office Mobile
EmailOutlook.comHotmailoutlook.comOutlook Express, Windows Mail, Live Mail, OutlookMailMail Mail, Outlook 2013 and laterPeoplePeople Mobile
Web-based chatIntegrated into all servicesWeb MessengerN/AN/AN/AN/A
Photos and videosIntegrated into OneDrivePhotosN/APhoto Gallery, Movie MakerPhotosPhotos, Camera Roll


  1. ^ "Windows Live Wave 3 Reviewers Guide". News Center. Microsoft. 2008-11-12. Retrieved 2008-11-16. [dead link]
  2. ^ Thurrott, Paul (2006-01-18). "Windows Live Preview". SuperSite for Windows. Penton Media. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  3. ^ "The Complete Windows Experience – Windows 7 + Windows Live". The Windows Blog. Microsoft. 28 October 2008. 
  4. ^ "Windows 8 Developer Preview Guide". Download Center. Microsoft. 2011-09-13. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  5. ^ a b "Microsoft Previews New Windows Live and Office Live Services". News Center. Microsoft. 1 November 2005. 
  6. ^ "Looking ahead and bringing you even more". Office Live Workspace Team Blog. Microsoft. 2009-01-23. Archived from the original on 20 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  7. ^ Stross, Randall (May 27, 2012). "Goodbye to Windows Live (and Whatever It Meant)". New York Times. 
  8. ^ "Status history". Microsoft. Retrieved 6 November 2014. 
  9. ^ Woodman, Aaron (13 July 2010). "Windows Phone 7 – Getting Connected". Blogging Windows. Microsoft. 
  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 (21 March 2007). "Microsoft severs Live Search from the rest of the Windows Live family". ZDNet. CBS Interactive. 
  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. Condé Nast. 
  14. ^ Foley, Mary Jo (25 August 2006). "Microsoft Seeks Testers for 'Windows Live Essentials'". eWeek. Quinstreet. 
  15. ^ a b c "Cloud services for Windows 8 and Windows Phone: Windows Live, reimagined". Building Windows 8. Microsoft. 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Excerpt of Windows Live Butterfly acceptance e-mail from Windows Live Beta Team[dead link]
  18. ^ "Windows Live 2.0 Release Notes". Microsoft. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  19. ^ "The Death of Flair — Windows Live's New Look". 2007-06-15. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  20. ^ "Windows Live Wave 3: New Header UI". 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  21. ^ "Recapping the rumors: what we "know" about Wave 4". 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  22. ^ "More information about Windows Live Wave 4’s dynamic header". 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  23. ^ "A new wave, a new look: First look at the Windows Live Wave 4 header". 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  24. ^ Jones, Chris. "A preview of Windows Live for Windows 8". Inside Windows Live. Microsoft. Archived from the original on 21 February 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014. 
  25. ^ "Meet Office Online, Microsoft's slightly tweaked Office Web Apps replacement". PC World. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  26. ^ "Bing". Windows Store. Microsoft. Retrieved 1 November 2014.