Microsoft's "Windows Live" branding has come to encompass a wide variety of software and services since it was introduced back in 2005, but it seems the company is taking advantage of the Windows 8 launch to clean things up, just as we heard a few months ago. Much as the Windows Live account provided a master identify for Live users and allowed then to sync their information across Windows software services and Windows Phone, a "Microsoft account" will now be the key identity for Windows users. From there, users can connect devices (like a Windows 8 computer or Windows Phone) and services (like SkyDrive and Messanger) to that account.
Along with this change, Microsoft is also streamlining the naming conventions behind some key Live services — now, the Windows Live Calendar, Contacts, and MSN Messenger will be renamed in a fashion similar to Windows Phone. They'll just be known as the Calendar, People, and Messaging apps, respectively. It also looks Microsoft is simplifying its mail branding, as well: while hotmail.com will continue to be Microsoft's mail portal, the Windows Live Mail branding is going away, with the service simply being referred to as the Mail app in Windows 8 and Windows phone.
Things should continue to function as you'd expect — every Microsoft account gets a SkyDrive, and it also serves as your master ID for purchases through Xbox Live, the Zune store, and the Windows 8 app store. It'll also let you sync settings across multiple PCs that you've signed in to with your Microsoft account. While the upcoming move away from the Live brand shouldn't negatively impact users of Microsoft's services, it should help the company present a more unified cloud service to consumers when Windows 8 launches this fall.