Live Search rebranded as “Windows Live Search”?

By Kip Kniskern | Posted October 18, 2008 18 comments

Is this for real?

It started with an interesting comment on the Live Search blog by a Group Product Manager for Live Search, hinting at rebranding efforts to come:

We’re glad you like the product and we recognize that there is a brand issue across Windows Live.  And we’ve been pretty upfront about that when we talk to customers and advertisers(http://www.seroundtable.com/archives/017296.html).  We’re working on fixing those issues so stay tuned.   Thanks for the feedback . . and keep it coming!

Shortly after that we received a tip from a reader about the comment, and then right after that we received a very interesting tip from someone who claims to work as a Quality Assurance Operator for Live Search, detailing a number of changes, including new UI and a new name, “Windows Live Search”.  We were asked to keep the tipster’s name quiet, and frankly we felt we needed a little verification before we proceeded with this very interesting news.

However shortly after that, our tipster apparently got over his shyness, and started a blog under his own name (if that is his name), posting some of the screenshots he sent us (we have some better ones, but for now we’re just linking to the ones he posted):

…which was picked up over at Neowin.  Since we were asked to keep the guy’s name quiet (which is weird since he then apparently started up a blog), we won’t mention it here.

However that’s not all.  We also got a tip the other day from LiveSide reader Mark McDonald from the UK who, while visiting PC World, a UK computer store, was shown a video on both a new HP and Sony laptop, touting the virtues of among other things Windows Live, “coming in 2009”.  He managed to snap a couple of shots on his iPhone:

PCWorld1 

PCWorld2

Now we’re well aware that we could be on the receiving end of a hoax, but if we are, well here’s a hat tip to a rather elaborate ruse.  However if it is legit, then we’re seeing some pretty significant developments, including:

  1. A rebrand back to Windows Live Search
  2. A new look for Search
  3. Renaming of of the confusing “Windows Live Hotmail” and “Windows Live Mail” to “Windows Live Mail” and “Windows Live Mail for desktop”
  4. Introduction of a new online Windows Live Photos, and the renaming of Windows Live Photo Gallery to Windows Live Photos for desktop
  5. Something called Windows Live Cloud

If this isn’t true, Windows Live should give our two tipsters a call and hire them as marketing consultants. 

Posted October 18th, 2008 at 6:28 am
Category: News
Tags: Live Search, Windows Live
  • http://msftandthefuture.spaces.live.com/ Quikboy

    I like the new look somewhat, if it’s for real. I see they took my advice to add Favicons.

    However, it’s hard to imagine this as real, because:
    a) LiveSide is actually the first result for such a long time
    b) The ad is too far down, and mixes into the results
    c) In reality, there’s not that many websites with LiveSide results (not even Google indexes that many…)

    Also, on the homepage snapshot on his blog, “News Storys” is spelt wrong, as well as “Video Clips” and “Websites” aren’t as simple as Web, News, and Video.

    We would all wish Microsoft had a consistent brand, but it’s not likely to happen, is it? This guy IS a pretty good Photoshopper if they’re all really fake.

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/tophtucker/default.aspx tophtucker

    Wow, very intriguing. I saw that initial comment too, but inferred that maybe MS had an entirely new brand in store, which has been rumored from time to time.

    I’m not sure “Windows Live Search” is a better brand than “Live Search.” In my experience, the “Windows” tends to scare off Mac users who infer (have I just used that word twice in one comment?) that it’s Windows-only. And Hotmail is one of the few strong brands left in MS’ online stable.

    As quikboy pointed out, there are various clues that this might not be for real. But it seems too elaborate for a hoax. Maybe it’s just marketing materials being out-of-sync.

  • damaster

    I took a look at the first two images on this guy’s blog and the properties said the images were created in “Adobe Photoshop CS2 Windows”. Of course it’s perfectly possible that the guy tried to “scale down” the photo size in Photoshop and saved it in there.

    I seriously doubt Microsoft would misspell “News Storys” though…..

  • http://lituus.co.nr lituus
  • http://www.liveside.net/members/Alber1690/default.aspx Alber1690

    Very interesting especially since Microsoft execs keep referring to it as “Live Search.”

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/Alber1690/default.aspx Alber1690

    @damaster: good point, I was about to point out the spelling mistake…very, very unlikely Microsoft would have that typo pass into final UI builds.

    @lituus: what is that? now that is a clear example of a fake.

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/DN2004/default.aspx DN2004

    I would also like to add didn’t they rename Windows Live Mail to Windows Live Hotmail to keep the brand and to help stop confusion?

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to call the Windows Live Hotmail for desktop (wow long name). Sure those screenshots look promising but like people have said there are spelling mistakes such as News Storys, Video Clips & Websites it would certainly make more sense to just say Web, News, Video.

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/Chris/default.aspx Chris

    Ok Kip covered a whole bunch of topics in this post, but just to keep on the Live Search topic, these are only design ideas. These are not final versions, hence typos, UI mismatches etc will be present.

    As for the Mail, Cloud namings etc, it is possible the video is out of date. However given the entirely separate tips around the new WLS name, it makes things interesting that’s for sure!

  • Messa

    just noticed hes replied to the blog with new pics and responding to people suggesting it may be fake…

  • markmcd

    I emaild kip yesterday with even more info (i was the one who found it at pcworld in canterbury).

    On internet explorer 8 beta 2 the accelerator is called ‘Email with Live Mail’ and links to Hotmail.

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/Rusticated/default.aspx Rusticated

    I really can’t see this being real, as big a shame as it is. There’s another typo in the video on the HP and Sony laptop… “Never loose a file again”. I can’t see Microsoft letting a typo like this slip through the net and reach shops.

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/calum_2D00_r_2D00_/default.aspx calum-r-

    Can anyone else who has Internet Explorer 8 Beta 2 confirm markmcd’s point about the accelerator?

    I really hope ALL of this is true! THe ranamings make MUCH more sense, I hated it when they changed it back to Live Hotmail rather than Live Mail. Hotmail is such a childish name! & changing the name to Live Mail would not be confusing to people now the new design is there (it shouldn’t be confusing anyway).

    I also think those search pages look much better & make much more sense. The results page in the Wave 3 style looks fantastic & the way they have the related searches & other searchs at the side. Also the favicons in search results make much more sense – something even Google hasn’t done yet.

    Maybe all the links to “LiveSide” in the search results is hinting at more accuracy in the new Windows Live Search?

    I really hope this is all true, but there just seem to be maybe a few things which scream “fake!”. I hope not!

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/derviskemal/default.aspx derviskemal

    yup, i can confirm that in IE8 beta it is named as ‘Live Mail’ – i had seen this for ages but just took no notice as it! Would love it if they did do this before Wave 3 really gets going…

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/calum_2D00_r_2D00_/default.aspx calum-r-

    That’s good news derviskemal! Well the new “Hotmail” (still an awful name) has not been rolled out to everyone like they said they would weeks ago (I have yet to get it on any account) so hopefully they are changing it around a bit & changing it to “Windows Live Mail” :P Although I doubt they would until the next beta comes out for the desktop mail client, hopefully called “Windows Live Mail for desktops”, as it may create confusion.

    (If you’re listening Microsoft, don’t worry about confusion, it wouldn’t happen, just please change the damn names to how it’s shown in this post. Whenever you can!)

  • http://www.liveside.net/members/JSYOUNG571/default.aspx JSYOUNG571

    Everything needs to be called Windows Live, even the software sold in the stores. It is confusing as hell when you introduce a new name and your products our half and half with MSN and Windows Live. Instead of having a main page called MSN, it should be changed to Windows Live.Instead of having MSN Premium, it should change over to Windows Live Premium. Just some examples. Everything should be Windows Live period.

  • http://lituus.co.nr lituus

    @alber1690: it’s not a “fake” but it is not a “real” application either. just a design “idea”. obviously, I can’t tell you whom I got it from. It was part of a invitation-only MS survey. The actual image is just a manip. of this one: http://www.permissionresearch.com/images/PR/pr2_en_myvd.gif

    This is a “research” company often used by Microsoft. The service they offer (My VirtualDrive) is possibly powered by Skydrive servers. (can’t verify that though)

  • http://yertblog.blogspot.com yertthedestroyer

    Dropping the Windows name from these would be nice in most cases… Live is a great brand, but adding the name Windows makes it seem limited to only those on Windows boxes, which would be a major problem we could all see if this was another company like Google branding things this way… But since it is Microsoft I guess it HAS to be okay that they can let the branding of an individual product (Windows) leak to the branding of their Online Services (Live) even when that product has nothing to do with the end use of the product.

  • damaster

    @yertthedestroyer: “Windows Live” is meant to be an extension of online services to Windows – hence the name contains Windows in it….similar to how “Office Live” is an online extension to Office.