Windows Live
Screenshot of Windows Live Home, which served as a central location to access all Windows Live services
Type of site
Software plus services
(Web applications)
URLArchived official website at the Wayback Machine (archive index)
Users330 million
LaunchedNovember 1, 2005 (2005-11-01)
Current statusClosed
Content license

Windows Live is a discontinued brand name for a set of web services and software products developed by Microsoft as part of its software-as-a-service 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.[1]

According to Microsoft, Windows Live "is a way to extend the Windows user experience".[2] 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.[3] 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).[4] 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 "" domain, however, continues to be used in the URLs for Outlook, OneDrive, and the Login and Signup pages.


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 integrates many of the Windows Live products and services into the operating system.[6]


Online services

The following services were once part of Windows Live but are still online.[7] and OneDrive still use the "Live" branding in the URL even though the brand name is dropped.

The usage of the domain was later extended to consumer versions of Microsoft Teams, Microsoft To Do, Microsoft Lists, to distinguish them from the enterprise versions.

Previous 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
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
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 to serve as an online storage for their needs. Microsoft OneDrive
Note-taking software designed for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. It gathers users' notes, drawings, screen clippings, and audio commentaries, and notes can also be shared with other OneNote users over the Internet or a network. Microsoft OneNote
Business communication platform offering workspace chat and videoconferencing, file storage, and application integration. Microsoft Teams
Cloud-based task management application that allows users to manage their tasks from a smartphone, tablet and computer. Microsoft To Do
Allows users to create, share, and track data inside lists. Microsoft Lists

Mobile services

Windows Phone

Main article: My Windows Phone

My Windows Phone was a free online companion service for Windows Phone mobile devices that provided 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 could 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 integrated tightly with other Windows Live services including People and Calendar, and SkyDrive.[8]


Main article: Windows Live Messenger Mobile

Microsoft released a Windows Live Messenger application on the iOS App Store, which allowed users on mobile devices running iOS to communicate with their contacts via the Microsoft Messenger service. In addition to the instant messaging functionalities, the application also allowed users to view their Messenger social feed, view their friend's Profiles, and integrate with Hotmail and Photos.

Feature phone

Windows Live also provided customized services specifically created for feature phones. It was 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.[9]

Mobile Service Offered through Exchange ActiveSync support? Description
Client Web SMS
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.

Search services

Main article: Bing (search engine)

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.[10] However, Microsoft recognised that there was a brand issue as the word "Live" continued to remain in the brand.[11] As an effort to create a new identity for Microsoft's search services, on June 3, 2009, Live Search was officially rebranded as Bing.[12]

Developer services

Main article: Live Connect

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 services

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 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. 30 June 2009
Alerts Sent information updates to the user's email inbox, mobile device or Messenger. 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
(now discontinued)
3 September 2009
Expo Allowed users to post online classifieds and search for listings posted by other users. 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. 15 December 2010
Gallery 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. 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. 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[13] A central repository for collections of developer plug-ins for Windows Photo Gallery, Windows Movie Maker, and Windows Live Writer. ?
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
(now discontinued)
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
(now discontinued)
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. 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. 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
(now discontinued)
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[14] Windows Live OneCare on the other hand, was a commercial consumers utility marketed with a software as a service licensing model.

Service Description Fate
Family Safety Parental controls similar to Windows Vista's Family Safety feature Integrated into Windows 8 and later[7]
Mail 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[7]
Movie Maker A video editing program for consumers Discontinued, most functionality integrated into Photos app, a feature which was called Windows Story Remix (later Video Editor)
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 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.[15]

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/Wave 1

The Windows Live Flair header

Most original Windows Live applications and services used a visual theme known as Blue Vapor or Flair.

Wave 2

Windows Live 2.0 header

With the public beta release of the Windows Live Wave 2 Suite,[16] a new visual theme was released to enable the Aero transparency effect in Windows Vista.[17]

Wave 3

Windows Live 3.0 header

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 predetermined background pictures. Several of these themes are dynamic and change according to the time of day and the current weather condition of the user.[18]

Wave 4

Windows Live Wave 4 header

In addition to the themes provided in Windows Live Wave 3, the release of Windows Live Wave 4 provided additional themes for users to customize 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.[19] In addition, the Windows Live Wave 4 header features a reorganized dynamic navigation menu that displays the number of the user's current online contacts and the number of unread e-mails,[20] 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.[21]

See also

In addition to Windows Live, which is mainly aimed at individuals,[5] Microsoft brands other properties as "Live", including:


  1. ^ "Windows Live Wave 3 Reviewers Guide" (PDF). News Center. Microsoft. 2008-11-12. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 1, 2010. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  2. ^ Thurrott, Paul (2006-01-18). "Windows Live Preview". SuperSite for Windows. Penton Media. Archived from the original on 2007-05-27. Retrieved 2007-06-17.
  3. ^ "The Complete Windows Experience – Windows 7 + Windows Live". The Windows Blog. Microsoft. 28 October 2008.
  4. ^ "Windows 8 Developer Preview Guide" (PDF). Download Center. Microsoft. 2011-09-13. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-10-07. Retrieved 2011-09-20.
  5. ^ a b "Microsoft Previews New Windows Live and Office Live Services". News Center. Microsoft. 1 November 2005. Archived from the original on 3 November 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  6. ^ Stross, Randall (May 27, 2012). "Goodbye to Windows Live (and Whatever It Meant)". New York Times. Archived from the original on January 13, 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c "Cloud services for Windows 8 and Windows Phone: Windows Live, reimagined". Building Windows 8. Microsoft. 2012-05-02. Archived from the original on 2014-02-16. Retrieved 2013-06-15.
  8. ^ Woodman, Aaron (13 July 2010). "Windows Phone 7 – Getting Connected". Blogging Windows. Microsoft.
  9. ^ "Windows Live for mobile Wave 3 – take your social life on the go". 2008-11-14. Archived from the original on 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  10. ^ Foley, Mary Jo (21 March 2007). "Microsoft severs Live Search from the rest of the Windows Live family". ZDNet. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 3 November 2014. Retrieved 3 November 2014.
  11. ^ "Keynote with Kevin Johnson at Microsoft". Archived from the original on 2018-06-24. Retrieved 2009-05-30.
  12. ^ Singel, Ryan (2009-05-28). "Hands On With Microsoft's New Search Engine: Bing, But No Boom". Wired. Condé Nast. Archived from the original on 2012-04-29. Retrieved 2017-03-12.
  13. ^
  14. ^ Foley, Mary Jo (25 August 2006). "Microsoft Seeks Testers for 'Windows Live Essentials'". eWeek. Quinstreet. Archived from the original on 2023-10-10. Retrieved 2023-10-10.
  15. ^ "Excerpt of Windows Live Butterfly Acceptance E-mail from Windows Live Beta Team". Archived from the original on January 4, 2009.
  16. ^ "Windows Live 2.0 Release Notes". Microsoft. Retrieved 2008-06-06.[permanent dead link]
  17. ^ "The Death of Flair – Windows Live's New Look". 2007-06-15. Archived from the original on 2008-10-10. Retrieved 2008-11-16.
  18. ^ "Windows Live Wave 3: New Header UI". 2008-06-05. Archived from the original on 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2008-06-06.
  19. ^ "Recapping the rumors: what we 'know' about Wave 4". 2010-01-04. Archived from the original on 2010-01-08. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  20. ^ "More information about Windows Live Wave 4's dynamic header". 2010-01-21. Archived from the original on 2010-01-28. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  21. ^ "A new wave, a new look: First look at the Windows Live Wave 4 header". 2010-01-04. Archived from the original on 2010-01-07. Retrieved 2010-01-27.
  22. ^ "Looking ahead and bringing you even more". Office Live Workspace Team Blog. Microsoft. 2009-01-23. Archived from the original on 2009-02-20. Retrieved 2009-01-24.