For Microsoft, Windows Live was supposed to help define the Windows Ecosystem. A direct response to Apple’s iLife, Windows Live was supposed to attract and help the Windows brand retain PC customers. The best thing about it was that users were promised tons of updates and innovations that weren’t tied to any other Microsoft or Windows update schedule. The component updates would come as they were completed.
Unfortunately, for users, none of this happened. The applications were effectively orphaned right after they were released. While there were a couple of updates between their original release and the release of Windows 7, and then a major component upgrade in 2011, the apps were largely ignored.
With the release of Windows 8, the Windows Live brand will officially be completely dead. While the programs live on as the Metro Apps that are showcased in Soft32’s Windows 8 Consumer Preview Review, there will never be another version of any of these apps for any existing Windows operating system (meaning Windows 7 and earlier). So, if you really use any of them, you’ve got what you’ve got.
Microsoft’s Chris Jones, the vice president overseeing the Windows Live group, said, “Windows Live services and apps were built on versions of Windows that were simply not designed to be connected to a cloud service for anything other than updates, and as a result, they felt ‘bolted on’ to the experience.”
I completely disagree with this assessment. The Windows Live brand never took hold because Microsoft doesn’t manage brands well. They’ve had problem with their MSN brand going back to 1995, including both MSNBC and their MSN online services, Windows Live as well as their Windows OS brand. They simply seem unable to gain any real traction and consumer excitement and instead seem to rely on the fact that Windows won the enterprise space wars. If the OS weren’t on nearly EVERY business desktop from east to west, they wouldn’t have the hold they enjoy in the consumer space. Period.
However, the release of Windows 8 gives MS an easy out – they’ve removed the Live brand in all the software and services, and have simply built them into the new OS. You don’t have to use them, but they’re there if you want them…all except Windows Live Writer, which is missing, without any kind of explanation or replacement from Microsoft… I (and many other pundits) have no idea why.
Windows Live Essentials 2011 will NOT install on Windows 8, so if you want the software in its Live Essentials form, you’ll need to have it installed on your PC before you upgrade to Windows 8. If you try to install it after the fact, you’re going to be out of luck.