More info (and some speculation) on the “Microsoft Live” rebranding

By Kip Kniskern | In Featured, News | Posted December 8, 2011 69 comments

What if you rebranded your services and nobody knew?  Isn’t the point of a brand to, you know, get people focused on your products?  Kind of hard to do that when we don’t even know what the brand is, and have to dig around to find out.

Yesterday we pointed out that the Windows Live Messenger app on Facebook has been renamed, to “Microsoft Live”.  Now we’re being reminded that the apparent rebranding goes much further than that, to Hotmail and SkyDrive at least, and possibly beyond.

On the Microsoft News Center site, under “Windows Live” you can download official logos for Windows Live Products, including “Microsoft SkyDrive” and “Microsoft Hotmail”:

logo_msSkyDrive_web ms-Hotmail_v_c

Meanwhile, Messenger seems to either have been left behind, or the rebrand isn’t complete, or there just haven’t been enough management meetings at Microsoft to get around to changing the name.  Here’s the logo from the same News Center source:

10_web

Of course there’s lots of speculation about what actually will become of Messenger, as it could be the odd man out once Skype becomes more fully integrated into Microsoft’s properties.  For the record, the Skype logo, at this point, is still just Skype, and not “Microsoft Skype” on News Center:

logo_skype_web

 

On the News Center Windows Live home page confusion reigns, of course, with the old Windows Live logos featured prominently:
news center windows live page

OK, so on to some speculation.  As much as the rebranding merry-go-round is getting a little old (and if you’ve been following Windows Live and LiveSide over the years, you know what we mean), pulling Hotmail and SkyDrive out of “Windows Live” and having them stand on their own brands *might* make some sense, as Hotmail has always been a strong brand, and SkyDrive is used not only with Windows, but Windows Phone (uh oh, now where does THAT name fit in if we’re in a rebranding binge?), Office, and all across Microsoft.

And of course there’s another whole part of Windows Live, and that’s Windows Live Essentials.  In fact, Microsoft some months back moved Essentials into Windows org itself, while keeping Hotmail, SkyDrive, and Messenger in their own separate (umm, Windows Live) org.  So could we be seeing “Windows Live Photo Gallery” still, while storing photos in “Microsoft SkyDrive”?

As with the “all things will be revealed at Build” mantra from this past summer, we expect that Microsoft is (hopefully) planning a big rebranding reveal in conjunction with Windows 8.  OK, we get that, but why start changing names and logos willy nilly now?

Posted December 8th, 2011 at 10:02 am
  • #TeamCortana

    My suggestion:

    “Viva la Hotmail”
    “Viva la Skydrive”
    “Viva la Skype”
    “Viva la Xbox”

    • http://www.about.me/AngeloGopaul Eingoluq

      On all ‘seriousness’, re-branding is a tricky one for Microsoft. Some of their web services are tied to hardware like the Xbox and some have little connection to desktop software like hotmail to Outlook.
      I think they need to focus on their web services as one unified experience.
      Bing-Hotmail-Skydrive-Messenger-Skype-etc. With their focus on the cloud and their recent acquisition of Skype, I think they should continue with the ‘sky’ moniker. for example, skymail, skydocs and skype to replace messenger.

      • James

        While that would be cool with the “sky” moniker… you have to understand there are also trademark registrations they have to worry about too… so it would take a while to get that all regsitered.

  • Anonymous

    My suggestion:

    “Viva la Hotmail”
    “Viva la Skydrive”
    “Viva la Skype”
    “Viva la Xbox”

    • http://www.about.me/AngeloGopaul Eingoluq

      On all ‘seriousness’, re-branding is a tricky one for Microsoft. Some of their web services are tied to hardware like the Xbox and some have little connection to desktop software like hotmail to Outlook.
      I think they need to focus on their web services as one unified experience.
      Bing-Hotmail-Skydrive-Messenger-Skype-etc. With their focus on the cloud and their recent acquisition of Skype, I think they should continue with the ‘sky’ moniker. for example, skymail, skydocs and skype to replace messenger.

  • Anonymous

    My suggestion:

    “Viva la Hotmail”
    “Viva la Skydrive”
    “Viva la Skype”
    “Viva la Xbox”

    • http://www.about.me/AngeloGopaul Eingoluq

      On all ‘seriousness’, re-branding is a tricky one for Microsoft. Some of their web services are tied to hardware like the Xbox and some have little connection to desktop software like hotmail to Outlook.
      I think they need to focus on their web services as one unified experience.
      Bing-Hotmail-Skydrive-Messenger-Skype-etc. With their focus on the cloud and their recent acquisition of Skype, I think they should continue with the ‘sky’ moniker. for example, skymail, skydocs and skype to replace messenger.

      • James

        While that would be cool with the “sky” moniker… you have to understand there are also trademark registrations they have to worry about too… so it would take a while to get that all regsitered.

  • Momfer

    I like it. Enough with the Windows and Live prefixes. Windows Internet Explorer… what? Just choose a strong brand name and prefix it with “Microsoft”. Done. Microsoft Hotmail. Microsoft Skydrive. Microsoft Skype. Clear and strong.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/CW3SETFCKRB5NRLX5QZK3EMRWY Joe

      And Microsoft Phone  The windows  has too muchb baggage from Windows Mobile  and should have started off Microsoft Phone People still think Windows Phone is Windows Mobile  and seen on Wondows Phone sites.

  • Anonymous

    I like it. Enough with the Windows and Live prefixes. Windows Internet Explorer… what? Just choose a strong brand name and prefix it with “Microsoft”. Done. Microsoft Hotmail. Microsoft Skydrive. Microsoft Skype. Clear and strong.

  • Anonymous

    I like it. Enough with the Windows and Live prefixes. Windows Internet Explorer… what? Just choose a strong brand name and prefix it with “Microsoft”. Done. Microsoft Hotmail. Microsoft Skydrive. Microsoft Skype. Clear and strong.

    • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/CW3SETFCKRB5NRLX5QZK3EMRWY Joe

      And Microsoft Phone  The windows  has too muchb baggage from Windows Mobile  and should have started off Microsoft Phone People still think Windows Phone is Windows Mobile  and seen on Wondows Phone sites.

  • tk

    That is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t fix the real problem.  The name “Hotmail” just sounds awful.  They should just rename it to “SkyMail”, and make it consistent with SkyDrive and Skype.  It would be a perfect way to relaunch the service without the connotations of the past.
    Hotmail belongs in the late 90s.  Just hearing that name makes me cringe.  But the service is getting much better lately.
    All the young folks I know are using Gmail.  I feel stuck in the past with Hotmail.  They need to leverage the Skype brand fast!

    • http://gregsedwards.wordpress.com/ Greg Edwards

      I agree that Hotmail has some negative connotations due to its past, but the name is a play on HoTMaiL. It was one of the first email clients built using HTML. I think that’s a pretty neat legacy, and I like the fact it’s included in the name. Still, SkyMail? Sounds a lot like SkyMall. Then again, I really didn’t like SkyDrive all that much, and yet it has grown on me over the past few years.

    • wasapasserby

      Microsoft tried a rebrand with “Windows Live Mail (beta)” but found that Hotmail still had a better resonance with customers.

  • tk

    That is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t fix the real problem.  The name “Hotmail” just sounds awful.  They should just rename it to “SkyMail”, and make it consistent with SkyDrive and Skype.  It would be a perfect way to relaunch the service without the connotations of the past.
    Hotmail belongs in the late 90s.  Just hearing that name makes me cringe.  But the service is getting much better lately.
    All the young folks I know are using Gmail.  I feel stuck in the past with Hotmail.  They need to leverage the Skype brand fast!

    • Anonymous

      I agree that Hotmail has some negative connotations due to its past, but the name is a play on HoTMaiL. It was one of the first email clients built using HTML. I think that’s a pretty neat legacy, and I like the fact it’s included in the name. Still, SkyMail? Sounds a lot like SkyMall. Then again, I really didn’t like SkyDrive all that much, and yet it has grown on me over the past few years.

  • tk

    That is a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t fix the real problem.  The name “Hotmail” just sounds awful.  They should just rename it to “SkyMail”, and make it consistent with SkyDrive and Skype.  It would be a perfect way to relaunch the service without the connotations of the past.
    Hotmail belongs in the late 90s.  Just hearing that name makes me cringe.  But the service is getting much better lately.
    All the young folks I know are using Gmail.  I feel stuck in the past with Hotmail.  They need to leverage the Skype brand fast!

    • Anonymous

      I agree that Hotmail has some negative connotations due to its past, but the name is a play on HoTMaiL. It was one of the first email clients built using HTML. I think that’s a pretty neat legacy, and I like the fact it’s included in the name. Still, SkyMail? Sounds a lot like SkyMall. Then again, I really didn’t like SkyDrive all that much, and yet it has grown on me over the past few years.

    • Anonymous

      Microsoft tried a rebrand with “Windows Live Mail (beta)” but found that Hotmail still had a better resonance with customers.

  • tN0

    It does make a lot of sense if they kill the “Windows Live” brand. Bing, Skype, Hotmail, SkyDrive, Xbox and Windows are brands of their own that work more and more together and don’t need a superior brand.

  • Anonymous

    It does make a lot of sense if they kill the “Windows Live” brand. Bing, Skype, Hotmail, SkyDrive, Xbox and Windows are brands of their own that work more and more together and don’t need a superior brand.

  • Anonymous

    It does make a lot of sense if they kill the “Windows Live” brand. Bing, Skype, Hotmail, SkyDrive, Xbox and Windows are brands of their own that work more and more together and don’t need a superior brand.

  • insanelyapple

    Once again? They cant really make up their minds.

  • insanelyapple

    Once again? They cant really make up their minds.

  • insanelyapple

    Once again? They cant really make up their minds.

  • Avatar Roku

    The problem with Windows Live is that it isn’t even a thing, its a collection of things. A Microsoft Live ID makes a lot more sense than a Windows Live ID. How many times am I asked to login on products with a Windows live ID that have nothing to do with Windows itself? Zune and Xbox Live services come to mind.

    The renaming also falls in line with the recent Microsoft family marketing. Microsoft said at the time that many customers weren’t even aware that Microsoft made the Xbox. The same may be true for Hotmail and Skydrive. It makes sense to put the Microsoft brand in front of every product as Google does; especially when you’re opening Microsoft retail stores across the country. Although there is no Google YouTube, so perhaps there will be no Microsoft Skype.

    • jvd897

      During the Build conference, I believe that Windows Live IDs were referred to as “Microsoft Accounts”; i.e., they noted that you can sign in to Windows 8 using your Microsoft account.

  • Avatar Roku

    The problem with Windows Live is that it isn’t even a thing, its a collection of things. A Microsoft Live ID makes a lot more sense than a Windows Live ID. How many times am I asked to login on products with a Windows live ID that have nothing to do with Windows itself? Zune and Xbox Live services come to mind.

    The renaming also falls in line with the recent Microsoft family marketing. Microsoft said at the time that many customers weren’t even aware that Microsoft made the Xbox. The same may be true for Hotmail and Skydrive. It makes sense to put the Microsoft brand in front of every product as Google does; especially when you’re opening Microsoft retail stores across the country. Although there is no Google YouTube, so perhaps there will be no Microsoft Skype.

    • http://jvd897.blogspot.com jvd897

      During the Build conference, I believe that Windows Live IDs were referred to as “Microsoft Accounts”; i.e., they noted that you can sign in to Windows 8 using your Microsoft account.

  • Avatar Roku

    The problem with Windows Live is that it isn’t even a thing, its a collection of things. A Microsoft Live ID makes a lot more sense than a Windows Live ID. How many times am I asked to login on products with a Windows live ID that have nothing to do with Windows itself? Zune and Xbox Live services come to mind.

    The renaming also falls in line with the recent Microsoft family marketing. Microsoft said at the time that many customers weren’t even aware that Microsoft made the Xbox. The same may be true for Hotmail and Skydrive. It makes sense to put the Microsoft brand in front of every product as Google does; especially when you’re opening Microsoft retail stores across the country. Although there is no Google YouTube, so perhaps there will be no Microsoft Skype.

    • http://jvd897.blogspot.com jvd897

      During the Build conference, I believe that Windows Live IDs were referred to as “Microsoft Accounts”; i.e., they noted that you can sign in to Windows 8 using your Microsoft account.

  • http://doctorwhofan98.wordpress.com/ doctorwhofan98

    NO!!!!!!! How can they do this? I like “Windows Live”!

  • http://doctorwhofan98.wordpress.com/ doctorwhofan98

    NO!!!!!!! How can they do this? I like “Windows Live”!

  • http://alexsimkin.tumblr.com/ Alex Simkin

    NO!!!!!!! How can they do this? I like “Windows Live”!

    Well, so long Windows Live. Does this mean we start from Wave 1 again?

  • http://josedmorales.net Josè Daniel

    Jeez, stop with the rebranding Microsoft® and make up your mind for once! Interestingly, since SkyDrive is found in the Office® hub I wonder if they’d call it Microsoft® Office SkyDrive. By the way, I think softies call it both ways: Microsoft SkyDrive and Windows Live SkyDrive (see pic)

  • http://josedmorales.net Josè Daniel

    Jeez, stop with the rebranding Microsoft® and make up your mind for once! Interestingly, since SkyDrive is found in the Office® hub I wonder if they’d call it Microsoft® Office SkyDrive. By the way, I think softies call it both ways: Microsoft SkyDrive and Windows Live SkyDrive (see pic)

  • http://josedmorales.net/ Joe

    Jeez, stop with the rebranding Microsoft® and make up your mind for once! Interestingly, since SkyDrive is found in the Office® hub I wonder if they’d call it Microsoft® Office SkyDrive. By the way, I think softies call it both ways: Microsoft SkyDrive and Windows Live SkyDrive (see pic)

  • Guest

    MSNERD said that Windows Live Essentials will become Windows Extras.
    I guess the web part of Windows Live will become just Live ?

  • Guest

    MSNERD said that Windows Live Essentials will become Windows Extras.
    I guess the web part of Windows Live will become just Live ?

  • Guest

    MSNERD said that Windows Live Essentials will become Windows Extras.
    I guess the web part of Windows Live will become just Live ?

  • Mario Albertico

    I don’t even know any more; I remember we had high hopes with the Windows 7 launch as a great opportunity for Microsoft to get its Windows Live branding obession under control–yeah no, seems like we have a bigger mess now. With Windows 8 supposedly honing in a centralized cloud-dependency, we should EXPECT Microsoft to get its Windows Live branding all sort out, but will it happen? I have a feeling we’ll still be having to explain to friends why “Windows Live” is at “live.com” and why “Microsoft SkyDrive” lives on “skydrive.live.com” but “Microsoft Hotmail” suddenly becomes “mail.live.com” :/

  • Mario Albertico

    I don’t even know any more; I remember we had high hopes with the Windows 7 launch as a great opportunity for Microsoft to get its Windows Live branding obession under control–yeah no, seems like we have a bigger mess now. With Windows 8 supposedly honing in a centralized cloud-dependency, we should EXPECT Microsoft to get its Windows Live branding all sort out, but will it happen? I have a feeling we’ll still be having to explain to friends why “Windows Live” is at “live.com” and why “Microsoft SkyDrive” lives on “skydrive.live.com” but “Microsoft Hotmail” suddenly becomes “mail.live.com” :/

  • Mario Albertico

    I don’t even know any more; I remember we had high hopes with the Windows 7 launch as a great opportunity for Microsoft to get its Windows Live branding obession under control–yeah no, seems like we have a bigger mess now. With Windows 8 supposedly honing in a centralized cloud-dependency, we should EXPECT Microsoft to get its Windows Live branding all sort out, but will it happen? I have a feeling we’ll still be having to explain to friends why “Windows Live” is at “live.com” and why “Microsoft SkyDrive” lives on “skydrive.live.com” but “Microsoft Hotmail” suddenly becomes “mail.live.com” :/

  • Guest

    It makes a lot of sense, particularly if the plan is to attract users of other platforms who won’t want/understand either the Windows or Live part. Think Dropbox.

    But yeah, typical MS. Years late, sloppy, inconsistent. I guess when you have a CEO who doesn’t give a shit about things like this, despite their importance, it gives everyone else license to slack off.

    Can’t wait till revenue stops growing completely, Ballmer gets fired, and we finally see MS 2.0 or it just dies and stops embarrassing itself.

  • Guest

    It makes a lot of sense, particularly if the plan is to attract users of other platforms who won’t want/understand either the Windows or Live part. Think Dropbox.

    But yeah, typical MS. Years late, sloppy, inconsistent. I guess when you have a CEO who doesn’t give a shit about things like this, despite their importance, it gives everyone else license to slack off.

    Can’t wait till revenue stops growing completely, Ballmer gets fired, and we finally see MS 2.0 or it just dies and stops embarrassing itself.

    • Jeric

      Seriously, chill dude, s’all good.

  • Guest

    It makes a lot of sense, particularly if the plan is to attract users of other platforms who won’t want/understand either the Windows or Live part. Think Dropbox.

    But yeah, typical MS. Years late, sloppy, inconsistent. I guess when you have a CEO who doesn’t give a shit about things like this, despite their importance, it gives everyone else license to slack off.

    Can’t wait till revenue stops growing completely, Ballmer gets fired, and we finally see MS 2.0 or it just dies and stops embarrassing itself.

    • Jeric

      Seriously, chill dude, s’all good.

  • http://simenm.tumblr.com Simen Mangseth

    My idea: Can’t they just call it “SkyDrive”, “Hotmail”, “Messenger”, “Skype” etc., and the live services have to get metro style :)

  • http://simenm.tumblr.com Simen Mangseth

    My idea: Can’t they just call it “SkyDrive”, “Hotmail”, “Messenger”, “Skype” etc., and the live services have to get metro style :)

  • Simen Mangseth

    My idea: Can’t they just call it “SkyDrive”, “Hotmail”, “Messenger”, “Skype” etc., and the live services have to get metro style :)

  • J-mac

    I think Microsoft should use prefix “X”…
    xBox
    xMail
    xPhone
    xNET (.NET)

  • J-mac

    I think Microsoft should use prefix “X”…
    xBox
    xMail
    xPhone
    xNET (.NET)

  • J-mac

    I think Microsoft should use prefix “X”…
    xBox
    xMail
    xPhone
    xNET (.NET)

  • http://macrosofter.wordpress.com/ quikboy

    The Windows Live brand was always a mess. It didn’t help they didn’t come up with a coordinated brand strategy before either. Windows Live is 3 syllables. Somewhat of a mouthful to speak in reference to, where as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc. roll off easily.

    The Microsoft brand continues to have a negative connotation among people, thanks to mainstream media and Apple-obsessed culture.

    I like the whole “Sky” brand thing. Sky and ‘the cloud’ kind of go together, but it’s at least different than calling it ‘the cloud’. You got Skype, an already popular brand and has ‘sky’ in it, SkyDrive, and now SkyMail, Sky-whatever. Maybe even Skynet :P

    • Thomato

      “John Connor, it is time :)”

  • http://macrosofter.wordpress.com/ quikboy

    The Windows Live brand was always a mess. It didn’t help they didn’t come up with a coordinated brand strategy before either. Windows Live is 3 syllables. Somewhat of a mouthful to speak in reference to, where as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc. roll off easily.

    The Microsoft brand continues to have a negative connotation among people, thanks to mainstream media and Apple-obsessed culture.

    I like the whole “Sky” brand thing. Sky and ‘the cloud’ kind of go together, but it’s at least different than calling it ‘the cloud’. You got Skype, an already popular brand and has ‘sky’ in it, SkyDrive, and now SkyMail, Sky-whatever. Maybe even Skynet :P

    • Thomato

      “John Connor, it is time :)”

  • http://macrosofter.wordpress.com/ quikboy

    The Windows Live brand was always a mess. It didn’t help they didn’t come up with a coordinated brand strategy before either. Windows Live is 3 syllables. Somewhat of a mouthful to speak in reference to, where as Google, Bing, Yahoo!, etc. roll off easily.

    The Microsoft brand continues to have a negative connotation among people, thanks to mainstream media and Apple-obsessed culture.

    I like the whole “Sky” brand thing. Sky and ‘the cloud’ kind of go together, but it’s at least different than calling it ‘the cloud’. You got Skype, an already popular brand and has ‘sky’ in it, SkyDrive, and now SkyMail, Sky-whatever. Maybe even Skynet :P

    • Thomato

      “John Connor, it is time :)”

  • Anonymous

    The majority of users and businesses don’t really care of Hotmail’s name history with HTML.
    Most just associate it with the word “hot”.  The definitions for “hot” in the Urban Dictionary
    are the words people think of “hot” first.

    Others associate it with Hotmail’s stigma of spam and unreliability from the past.
    As mentioned before, I’ve read and have seen people/businesses immediately ignore/reject
    emails, resumes, etc. with the Hotmail domain.

    I’ve been a strong proponent of changing the Hotmail brand.

    Windows 8 (OS & phones) in 2012 is Microsoft’s chance to make a fresh start from the confusing and inappropriate naming conventions (Hotmail, Live, etc.) of the past.

    Some excellent suggestions have been made here, such as having the prefix “Sky” (SkyMail)or the “X” (XMail).  Surely Microsoft can afford to acquire those domain names.  Both can be an excellent direction, especially with the SkyDrive and XBox brand name recognitions.  Either one are better than the name Hotmail for personal or business use.

    Too bad Microsoft was beaten by Apple for the ME.COM domain for email.  That would have been awesome to have as the domain for Microsoft Email.  Or Microsoft can acquire the domains MM.COM or MSMAIL.COM, for the name Microsoft Mail.

  • Anonymous

    The majority of users and businesses don’t really care of Hotmail’s name history with HTML.
    Most just associate it with the word “hot”.  The definitions for “hot” in the Urban Dictionary
    are the words people think of “hot” first.

    Others associate it with Hotmail’s stigma of spam and unreliability from the past.
    As mentioned before, I’ve read and have seen people/businesses immediately ignore/reject
    emails, resumes, etc. with the Hotmail domain.

    I’ve been a strong proponent of changing the Hotmail brand.

    Windows 8 (OS & phones) in 2012 is Microsoft’s chance to make a fresh start from the confusing and inappropriate naming conventions (Hotmail, Live, etc.) of the past.

    Some excellent suggestions have been made here, such as having the prefix “Sky” (SkyMail)or the “X” (XMail).  Surely Microsoft can afford to acquire those domain names.  Both can be an excellent direction, especially with the SkyDrive and XBox brand name recognitions.  Either one are better than the name Hotmail for personal or business use.

    Too bad Microsoft was beaten by Apple for the ME.COM domain for email.  That would have been awesome to have as the domain for Microsoft Email.  Or Microsoft can acquire the domains MM.COM or MSMAIL.COM, for the name Microsoft Mail.

  • cykotoxik

    The majority of users and businesses don’t really care of Hotmail’s name history with HTML.
    Most just associate it with the word “hot”.  The definitions for “hot” in the Urban Dictionary
    are the words people think of “hot” first.

    Others associate it with Hotmail’s stigma of spam and unreliability from the past.
    As mentioned before, I’ve read and have seen people/businesses immediately ignore/reject
    emails, resumes, etc. with the Hotmail domain.

    I’ve been a strong proponent of changing the Hotmail brand. All the awesome changes/additions Microsoft is doing is wasted with the Hotmail name.

    Windows 8 (OS & phones) in 2012 is Microsoft’s chance to make a fresh start from the confusing and inappropriate naming conventions (Hotmail, Live, etc.) of the past.

    Some excellent suggestions have been made here, such as having the prefix “Sky” (SkyMail) or the “X” (XMail).  Surely Microsoft can afford to acquire those domain names.  Both can be an excellent direction, especially with the SkyDrive and XBox brand name recognitions.  Either one are better than the name Hotmail for personal or business use.

    Too bad Microsoft was beaten by Apple for the ME.COM domain for email.  That would have been awesome to have as the domain for Microsoft Email.  Or Microsoft can acquire the domains MM.COM or MSMAIL.COM, for the name Microsoft Mail.

  • Anonymous

    Microsoft tried a rebrand with “Windows Live Mail (beta)” but found that Hotmail still had a better resonance with customers.

  • James

    While that would be cool with the “sky” moniker… you have to understand there are also trademark registrations they have to worry about too… so it would take a while to get that all regsitered.

  • Jeric

    Seriously, chill dude, s’all good.

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/CW3SETFCKRB5NRLX5QZK3EMRWY Joe

    And Microsoft Phone  The windows  has too muchb baggage from Windows Mobile  and should have started off Microsoft Phone People still think Windows Phone is Windows Mobile  and seen on Wondows Phone sites.