Microsoft appears to be killing off two of its key user-facing brands with the upcoming Consumer Preview release of Windows 8. Windows Live applications have been rolled into preinstalled apps that work as the core "Windows Communications" applications for Windows 8, and this lack of Windows Live branding is only the tip of the iceberg. "Microsoft Account" will replace Windows Live ID in Windows 8, and the software giant has also removed traces of Zune from its Windows Store, Music, and Video applications, although Zune Pass functionality remains.

Microsoft's Xbox team is handling the creation and management of the Metro style Video and Music applications within Windows 8, and we previously heard that Windows 8 will move to "Xbox Live for Windows" as the entertainment brand for Windows 8 Music, Video and Games shortly before its release. The debranding of Zune has already taken effect in the final Windows 8 Consumer Preview, but the full transition away from Zune will take place over the summer. The move away from Zune is part of a broad effort to simplify and consolidate the company's brands into a simple consumer message alongside Microsoft SkyDrive and Microsoft Hotmail. The branding will look like this in Windows 8:

  • Microsoft Account (Windows Live ID)
  • Mail (Windows Live Mail)
  • Calendar (Windows Live Calendar)
  • People (Windows Live Contacts)
  • Photos (Windows Live Photo Gallery)
  • Music (Zune Music Player)
  • Video (Zune Video Player)

We have heard that Microsoft may be replacing Zune with a Spotify-like service later this year based on Xbox Live, and the move to scrap the Zune desktop client for Windows Phone 8 further backs up the death of Zune as a brand. Whether Windows Live and Zune are fully killed off by the end of the year remains to be seen, but Windows 8 is clearly taking the first big steps toward the inevitable.