Microsoft is making a lot of noise about its cloud services in the run up to the launch of Windows 8. Today the computing giant announced a change it will be rolling out over the next few months in branding for its cloud services.
Windows Live and your Windows Live ID provide access to a range of products and services, from Messenger to SkyDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage solution. But wrapped into Windows Live is a collection of different brands, such as Windows Live Essentials, which, with the move towards a unified cloud strategy, don't seem to fit.
In reality there isn't a huge fundamental change here. If you use a variety of Microsoft services you'll have noticed that you sign in with one account anyway. So you'll no longer have a Windows Live ID and you'll have a Microsoft account instead, which is much cleaner from a branding point of view.
Moving forward, your Microsoft account will give you access to all those cloud services you know – contacts, calendar, email, messaging and storage. Each will be integrated across devices, so when you setup your Windows 8 PC, you'll have Metro style apps for all these things and a cloud link with your other synchronised Microsoft devices.
Across this run of services, branding is cleaned up to provide a more natural flow from Windows 8, through your Windows Phone and through to browser-based access to these same offerings.
Microsoft has said it will be revealing more over the next few weeks, including teasing that it would be revealing more about its work with Skype.
We've also been talking to Microsoft about SkyDrive, which supplies the cloud storage solution for your files across Microsoft (and Apple, if you like) devices. If you're interested where Microsoft is heading with cloud services, you should read our interview with Dharmesh Mehta, senior director of Windows and Windows Live division.