Windows Live is a discontinued brand-name for a set of web services and software products from Microsoft as part of its software plus services platform. Chief components under the brand name included web services (all of which were exposed through corresponding web applications), several computer programs that interact with the services, and specialized web services for mobile devices.
Screenshot of Windows Live Home, which served as a central location to access all Windows Live services
Type of site
|Software plus services |
|URL||Archived official website at the Wayback Machine (archive index)|
|Alexa rank||18 (April 2020[update])|
|Launched||November 1, 2005|
According to Microsoft, Windows Live "is a way to extend the Windows user experience". As such, Windows Vista's welcome screen provides a link to download Windows Live Messenger or to 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. Microsoft announced that Windows 8 would see Windows Live apps included right out-of-the-box, and would include built-in synchronization technologies powered by OneDrive (then SkyDrive). The Windows Live brand was phased out during August 2012, when Microsoft released Windows 8 to manufacturing. Active Windows Live services remained active but were gradually renamed. The "live.com" domain, however, continues to be used in the URLs for Outlook and OneDrive.
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). 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.
The following services were once part of Windows Live but are still online. Outlook.com and OneDrive still use the "Live" branding in the URL even though the brand name is dropped.
|Name||Description||Later renamed to||Website|
|ID||Provides 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.||Microsoft account||account|
|Profile||Allow users to manage their profile information and displays information about the particular user, their recent activities, and their relationship with other Windows Live users.|
|Hotmail||Free webmail service using AJAX technology||Outlook.com||outlook|
|Calendar||Calendaring web app that allow users to organize appointments, schedule meetings, set reminders, and share their calendar events.|
|People||An 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.|
|SkyDrive||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 Outlook.com to serve as an online storage for their needs.||Microsoft OneDrive||onedrive|
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 Outlook.com People and Calendar, and SkyDrive.
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.
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.
|Mobile Service||Offered through||Exchange ActiveSync support?||Description|
|Calendar Mobile||Yes||Yes||Yes||Web-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 calendar|
|People Mobile||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Web-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 SMS|
|Groups Mobile||Yes||Web-based version of Windows Live Groups designed for mobile devices|
|Hotmail Mobile||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Web- and client-based version of Hotmail that targets mobile devices, and allow new email alerts via SMS|
|Messenger Mobile||Yes||Yes||Yes||Web- and client-based version of Windows Live Messenger that is designed for mobile devices, and allow users to send instant messages via SMS|
|Profile Mobile||Yes||View and update user's own Windows Live Profile information using a mobile device|
|SkyDrive Mobile||Yes||Yes||Web-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.|
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 Live.com, 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. However, Microsoft recognised that there was a brand issue as the word "Live" continued to remain in the brand. As an effort to create a new identity for Microsoft's search services, on June 3, 2009, Live Search was officially rebranded as Bing.
|Name||Description||Replaced By||Discontinued Date|
|Admin Center||Enabled users with domain names to change their domain MX record(s) (mail server records) so that all features of Outlook.com will be available on their own domain names.||Microsoft Office 365||10 April 2014|
|Agents||Interactive chatterbots through Windows Live Messenger that allowed users to get more information about specific topics.||N/A||30 June 2009|
|Alerts||Sent information updates to the user's email inbox, mobile device or Messenger.||N/A||30 September 2010|
|Barcode||2D barcodes that can be used to store information or link to the mobile web.||Microsoft Tag||Never launched|
|Call||Allowed users to make PC-to-PC and PC-to-Phone voice and video calls.||Skype||1 June 2010|
|Devices||An 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||?|
|Events||Enables managing and planning different types of events and share them with others using Calendar, Spaces and Alerts.||Windows Live Groups
|3 September 2009|
|Expo||Allowed users to post online classifieds and search for listings posted by other users.||N/A||31 July 2008|
|Favorites||Synchronized the user's favorites between computers and allows for the sharing of favorites.||OneDrive||14 April 2009|
|FrameIt||Extended the functionality of digital photo frame devices, allowing users to customise the content delivery from multiple sources such as RSS feeds.||N/A||15 December 2010|
|Gallery||A center for collections of developers' add-ons for Windows Live Messenger, Photo Gallery, Movie Maker, Writer, Toolbar, Spaces, and Live.com, as well as Windows 7 and Windows Vista Sidebar and SideShow gadgets.||Windows Live Plug-ins
|1 October 2011|
|Groups||Enabled users to create their social groups for sharing, discussion and coordination.||Integration into OneDrive||?|
|Home||Provided a central location to access Windows Live services, monitor status information, and navigate to other Windows Live sites and services.||N/A||18 February 2013|
|Help Community||Collection of forums and message boards that allowed communication with other users of Windows Live products.||Microsoft Answers||6 June 2008|
|Mesh||File 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.||OneDrive||2012|
|Office Live Workspace||Offered 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 Online||21 January 2011|
|OneCare Safety Scanner||Free 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 Scanner||15 April 2011|
|Personalized Experience||An all-in-one home page featuring a customisable RSS aggregator, gadgets and search tools.||My MSN||30 March 2010|
|Plug-ins||A central repository for collections of developer plug-ins for Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Live Writer.||N/A||?|
|QnA||A 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
|21 May 2009|
|Search Center||A 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|
|Shopping||An 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
|20 February 2007|
|Spaces||A blog and social networking service which allowed users to create personalized blogs, add friends, and upload photos.||Migration to WordPress or Sina blogs in China||16 March 2011|
|Sync and Live Mesh||File 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.||OneDrive||31 March 2011|
|TV||An additional program for Windows Media Center which provided access to Windows Live Spaces, Messenger, and Call on large-screen monitors or TVs.||N/A||24 June 2008|
|Video Messages||Combined 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.||Skype||21 July 2010|
|Web Messenger||Online 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 services||30 October 2008|
|WiFi Center||Allowed users to search for wireless networks that are available and displays information about them.||N/A||16 February 2007|
|WiFi Hotspot Locator||A website which allowed users to locate wireless internet hotspots worldwide and view their positions on a map using Bing Maps.||MSN WiFi Hotspots
|16 February 2007|
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 Outlook.com. Windows Live OneCare on the other hand, was a commercial consumers utility marketed with a software as a service licensing model.
|Family Safety||Parental controls similar to Windows Vista's Family Safety feature||Integrated into Windows 8 and later|
|Desktop mail and calendar client designed to succeed Outlook Express on Windows XP and Windows Mail on Windows Vista, with full RSS support||Integrated into Windows 8 and later|
|Movie Maker||A video editing program for consumers||Discontinued, most functionality integrated into Photos app which called Windows Story Remix|
|Messenger||Instant messaging app||Replaced by Skype|
|Messenger Companion||An 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|
|OneCare||A 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.|
|Toolbar||A 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 Gallery||Image organizer that makes posting photos to SkyDrive and Facebook easier||Discontinued; functionality is partially offered by Photos app in Windows 10, and OneDrive app.|
|Writer||Desktop blog publishing tool that can publish to popular blogging services and make use of SkyDrive for photo storage.||Discontinued; open sourced as Open Live Writer in late 2015.|
Windows Live ButterflyEdit
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.
The Windows Live Butterfly program was closed in June 2009.
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.
Most original Windows Live applications and services used a visual theme known as Blue Vapor or Flair.
With the public beta release of the Windows Live Wave 2 Suite ("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.
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.
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. 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, 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.
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