What’s the deal with Windows Live Home?

Or more precisely, why are there so many Windows Live home pages? A blog post on Windows Live Wire the other day announced:

As you probably know by now, Windows Live Home is the central page for Windows Live on the Web. It provides an easy jumping-off point to all your Windows Live web services and gives you at-a-glance status for some of them. On the Home page, you can quickly check for new e-mail, new comments on your blog, or updates from your Spaces friends without having to go to each of those pages.

Today we’ve released a new version of the Windows Live Home page. We’ve taken off the “beta” tags, which means we’re no longer just testing this page out–it’s here to stay. 

But is it the central page for Windows Live on the web?  What about Live.com, or MSN.com?  What about the Spaces home page?  Heck, what about Get.live.com, or even the header bar?  All of these pages offer very similar sets of offerings, but none of them seem to, as yet, pull Windows Live together all in one place.  That’s been a problem with Windows Live since it was first announced, a lack of cohesive identity.

Here’s a quick recap of the major home pages for Windows Live, and some similarities and differences between and among them:
(click on the pictures to go to each of the sites)

Windows Live Home Pages

Similarities

Differences
Just the Header Bar
header_5 Opinion

New header bar, of course
Orb
Search
Home
Hotmail
Spaces
OneCare

Calendar
Office Live
Xbox Live
Gallery
Windows Live Home
home_1 Opinion

New header bar
Orb
Search
Hotmail
Messenger
Spaces

Weather info at a glance
Updated SkyDrive upload info
Link to Live Wire
Link to Events home page
Get.live.com
get_1 Opinion
Hotmail
Messenger
Spaces
OneCare
No new header bar
No search
No orb
Expo
Toolbar
Betas
Live.com
(you must be signed in to see your personalized information)
live_1 Opinion
Orb
Search
No new header bar
Personalized info
Live.com gadgets
Detailed mail at a glance
RSS feeds
Spaces Home
(you must be signed in to see your personalized information)
spaces_1 Opinion
New header bar
Orb
Search
Friends updated info
Events
SkyDrive
MSN.com
msn_1 Opinion
Hotmail
Messenger
Search
Not a Windows Live property,
so no Orb or header

As you can see, each of these pages are slightly different, but most contain mostly similar information. I haven’t broken down everything completely, but the effect is that many of the same services are offered on most of the pages, but there are some slight differences.  Are the differences enough to warrant a completely different page?  Why isn’t Windows Live Home a newly redesigned Live.com?  Is there any reason to have them both?  The new Spaces Home page, once you’re signed in, is by far the most intriguing offering here, but it lacks Hotmail and Messenger integration.  An ability to add Gadgets to the Spaces page, similar to Live.com, could make all the other pages obsolete.

And while the shift from Windows Live Search to Live Search separates Windows Live offerings into its own suite of communications related services, there’s a distressing lack of support/promotion for cool new services offered by Live Search.  Certainly Live Maps 3D and the improved driving directions should be featured here somewhere?

Windows Live has been making strides to try and consolidate the vision, to clean up the unfocused and haphazard mess that marred the beginnings of Windows Live.  Looking at these home pages, there’s still work to be done.