Windows Live was the collective brand name for a set of services and software products from Microsoft; part of their software plus services platform. In April 2013, the website was closed down. A majority of these services are Web applications, accessible from a browser, but there are also client-side binary applications that require installation. There are three ways in which Windows Live services are offered: Windows Essentials applications, web services, and mobile services.[1]

Microsoft said that Windows Live "is a way to extend the Windows user experience".[2] Windows Vista provides a link in its user interface to download Windows Live Messenger, and Windows 7 saw the removal of applications such as Windows Mail, Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Movie Maker and replaced with the Windows Essentials suite, a software package that allows the downloading and installation of similar offerings from 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]

Besides Windows Live, which is mainly aimed at individuals,[5] there are some other Web properties from Microsoft that are branded as "Live": Xbox LIVE multiplayer gaming and content delivery system for Xbox and Xbox 360, and the Games for Windows - LIVE multiplayer gaming service for Microsoft Windows. Another "Live" service, Office Live, was converged into Windows Live during the Wave 4 update, when Microsoft merged Office Live into the Windows Live team in January 2009.[6]

The Windows Live brand was phased out during August 2012; coinciding with the RTM of Windows 8. Most services kept their name, but with the removal of "Windows Live" in front of them.


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


Online services

Service Description
Admin Center Provides e-mail hosting for web site owners.
Calendar Time management service that allow users to organize appointments, schedule meetings, set reminders, and share their calendar events.
Devices An online device management service that will allow users to centrally access and manage the synchronisation of files stored on their computers and mobile devices. Windows Live Devices will also allow users to remotely access their computers from the internet via their web browser.
Groups Enable users to create their social groups for sharing, discussion and coordination. Free webmail service using AJAX technology featuring email, contacts and calendar services.
Microsoft account Identity single sign-on service that allows users to log into various Microsoft products and services. Users can manage their accounts and link multiple IDs together using this service.
People The 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.
Plug-ins A central repository for collections of developer plug-ins for Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Live Writer.
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.
Service Status Allow users to get information about the current performance of Microsoft services, as well as checking the history of service statuses during the past 14 days.
SkyDrive Password-protected online file storage and sharing, includes management of photos and Office documents. Also allow users to view and edit Microsoft Office Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote documents directly in the web browser using Office Web Apps, and allow sharing and co-authoring of these documents with other users.

Software applications

Windows Essentials (formerly Windows Live Essentials) is a suite of software applications that aims to offer integrated e-mail, instant messaging, photo-sharing, blog publishing, and security services. Essentials programs are designed to integrate well with each other, with the Windows operating system, and with other Windows Live web-based services such as SkyDrive and, so that they operate as a “seamless whole”.[8]

Service Description Status
Family Safety Parental Controls similar to Windows Vista's Family Safety feature Final
Mail Desktop mail and calendar client designed to succeed Outlook Express on Windows XP and Windows Mail on Windows Vista, with full RSS support Final
Movie Maker Video editing software similar to Windows Movie Maker with additional enhancements that makes home video editing easier Final
Photo Gallery Similar to Windows Photo Gallery with additional enhancements that make posting photos to SkyDrive and Facebook easier Final
Writer Desktop blog publishing tool that can publish to popular blogging services and make use of SkyDrive for photo storage. Final

Mobile services

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 Microsoft 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

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 Service Client Web SMS Exchange ActiveSync Description Status
Calendar Mobile 10px 10px 10px 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 Final
People Mobile 10px 10px 10px 10px 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 Final
Windows Live Groups Mobile 10px Web-based version of Windows Live Groups designed for mobile devices Final Mobile 10px 10px 10px 10px Web- and client-based version of that targets mobile devices, and allow new email alerts via SMS Final
Windows Live Messenger Mobile 10px 10px 10px Web- and client-based version of Windows Live Messenger that is designed for mobile devices, and allow users to send instant messages via SMS Final
Windows Live Profile Mobile 10px View and update user's own Windows Live Profile information using a mobile device Final
Microsoft SkyDrive Mobile 10px 10px Web-based version of Microsoft 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

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

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.

Discontinued products and services

Name Replaced By Description Discontinued Date
Agents Interactive chatterbots through Windows Live Messenger that allow users to get more information about specific topics. 2020-07-13
Alerts Send information updates to the user's email inbox, mobile device or Messenger. 2020-07-13
Barcode Microsoft Tag 2D barcodes that can be used to store information or link to the mobile web.
Call Skype Allow users to make PC-to-PC and PC-to-Phone (Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)) voice and video calls. 2020-07-13
Events Windows Live Groups
Manage and plan different types of events and share them with others using Calendar, Spaces and Alerts. 2020-07-13
Expo Allow users to post online classifieds and search for listings posted by other users. 2020-07-13
Favorites SkyDrive
Synchronizes the user's favorites between computers and allows for the sharing of favorites. 2020-07-13
FrameIt Extends the functionality of digital photo frame devices, allowing users to customise the content delivery from multiple sources such as RSS feeds. 2020-07-13
Gallery Windows Live Plug-ins A 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. 2020-07-13
(Discontinued with Hotmail)
Provides a central location to access Windows Live services, monitor status information, and navigate to other Windows Live sites and services. 2020-07-13
Hotmail Free webmail service using AJAX technology featuring email, contacts and calendar services. 2020-07-13
Help Community Microsoft Answers Collection of forums and message boards to communicate with other users of Windows Live products. 2020-07-13
Mesh SkyDrive File sharing and synchronization service based on FolderShare and Live Mesh technologies. Supports PC-to-PC and PC-to-Cloud synchronisation, and supports synchronisation of program settings such as Internet Explorer and Microsoft Office between multiple computers. Also allow users to remotely access their computers via the internet. 2020-07-13
Messenger Skype
(Except China Mainland)
An instant messaging client which allows users to communicate online. 2020-07-13
Messenger Companion An add-in for Internet Explorer that allow 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. 2020-07-13
Office Live Workspace SkyDrive Offers 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 does not offer collaboration or editing capabilities however. 2020-07-13
OneCare Microsoft Security Essentials Computer Security Service. Features its own Anti-Virus program, back-up utility, and a software firewall. 2020-07-13
OneCare Safety Scanner Microsoft Safety Scanner Free PC scanning and health service to help delete viruses and other threats. Includes registry cleaner, disk cleaner and defragmenter, network open port scanner, and comprehensive virus and spyware scanner. 2020-07-13
Personalized Experience My MSN An all-in-one home page featuring a customisable RSS aggregator, gadgets and search tools. 2020-07-13
(now discontinued)
A question and answer service which allow users to ask questions, tag them according to topic, and gain points and reputation for answering other users' questions. 2020-07-13
Search Center Windows Search 4
(now part of Windows Vista and Windows 7)
A desktop search program which provides a unified local and remote indexed search from a unified interface. 2020-07-13
Shopping Bing 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. 2020-07-13
Spaces Migration to WordPress or Sina blogs in China A blog and social networking service which allows users to create personalized blogs, add friends, and upload photos. 2020-07-13
Sync and Live Mesh SkyDrive File synchronization which allow 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 enables remote desktop access via the internet using a web browser. 2020-07-13
TV An additional program for Windows Media Center which will provide access to Windows Live Spaces, Messenger, and Call on large-screen monitors or TVs. 2020-07-13
Toolbar Bing Bar A toolbar which adds itself to Windows Internet Explorer, allowing quick access to a user's Windows Live Spaces, Hotmail, Favorites and Live Search from a button on the toolbar. 2020-07-13
Video Messages Skype Combines digital video with e-mail into a service that allows all webcam users to create, send, and receive video messages to anyone in their contact list, even when they are offline. 2020-07-13
Web Messenger Now part of all Windows Live web services Online version of Windows Live Messenger which allow users to talk online and in real-time with others using the Microsoft Messenger service from within a web browser. 2020-07-13
WiFi Center Allow users to search for wireless networks that are available and displays information about them. 2020-07-13
WiFi Hotspot Locator MSN WiFi Hotspots
(now discontinued)
A website which allowed users to locate wireless internet hotspots worldwide and view their positions on a map using Bing Maps. 2020-07-13

Windows Live Butterfly

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.[14]

The Windows Live Butterfly program was closed in June 2009.

User interface

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

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. An example is shown below:

The Windows Live Flair header

Wave 2

With the public beta release of the Windows Live Wave 2 Suite[15] ("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.[16] This theme no longer exists on any of the current Windows Live properties. An example is shown below:

Windows Live 2.0 header

Wave 3

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.[17] This theme remains in use on sites such as Windows Live Admin Center. An example is shown below:

Windows Live 3.0 header

Wave 4

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.[18] 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,[19] 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.[20] This theme remains in use on sites such as Family Safety. An example is shown below:

Windows Live Wave 4 header

Wave 5

All Windows Live Metro-styled apps for Windows 8 are designed using the Metro user interface.[21] All web services also features a new Metro user interface. The UI's header contains a pull-down element with allow users to easily switch to, People, Calendar, and SkyDrive. 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. An example is shown below:

Windows Live Wave 5 header

Renaming services

The Windows Live service are being renamed as listed:[22]

Service Windows 8 Windows Phone Website Previous name or predecessor
Account Microsoft account Microsoft account Windows Live ID, Passport
Storage SkyDrive app, SkyDrive Desktop SkyDrive app, Office app FolderShare, Live Mesh,
Windows Live Mesh
Email Mail app Mail app Hotmail, Windows Live Mail, Outlook Express
Calendar Calendar app Calendar app Hotmail Calendar, Windows Live Calendar
Contacts People app People app Windows Live Contacts
Messaging Messaging app, Skype Messaging app, Skype Integrated in Outlook and SkyDrive Windows Live Messenger, MSN Messenger
Photos/ Videos Photos app, Photo Gallery,
Movie Maker
Photos app, Camera Roll Integrated into SkyDrive Windows Live Photo Gallery, Windows Live Movie Maker

See also

[[File:Template:Portal/Images/Default|32x28px|alt=Portal icon]] Microsoft portal


  1. "Windows Live Wave 3 Reviewers Guide". Microsoft PressPass. 2008-11-12. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  2. Thurrott, Paul (2006-01-18). "Windows Live Preview". Paul Thurrott's SuperSite for Windows. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  3. "The Complete Windows Experience – Windows 7 + Windows Live". The Windows Blog. 2008-10-28. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  4. "Windows 8 Developer Preview Guide". Microsoft. 2011-09-13. Retrieved 2011-09-20. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Microsoft Previews New Windows Live and Office Live Services (press release)". Microsoft PressPass. 2005-11-01. Retrieved 2007-06-17. 
  6. "Looking ahead and bringing you even more". Office Live Workspace Team Blog. 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2009-01-24. 
  7. Stross, Randall (May 27. 2012). "Goodbye to Windows Live (and Whatever It Meant)". The New York Times (New York Times). 
  8. Microsoft Seeks Testers for Windows Live Essentials
  9. Windows Phone 7 – Getting Connected
  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 (2007-03-21). "Microsoft severs Live Search from the rest of the Windows Live family". ZDNet: All About Microsoft. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  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. 
  14. Excerpt of Windows Live Butterfly acceptance e-mail from Windows Live Beta Team
  15. "Windows Live 2.0 Release Notes". Microsoft. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  16. "The Death of Flair — Windows Live's New Look". 2007-06-15. Retrieved 2008-11-16. 
  17. "Windows Live Wave 3: New Header UI". 2008-06-05. Retrieved 2008-06-06. 
  18. "Recapping the rumors: what we "know" about Wave 4". 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  19. "More information about Windows Live Wave 4’s dynamic header". 2010-01-21. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  20. "A new wave, a new look: First look at the Windows Live Wave 4 header". 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2010-01-27. 
  21. Inside Windows Live: A Preview of Windows Live for Windows 8
  22. "Cloud services for Windows 8 and Windows Phone: Windows Live, reimagined - Building Windows 8 - Site Home - MSDN Blogs". 2012-05-02. Retrieved 2013-06-15. 

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