Microsoft is making several subtle and smart moves to improve its inconsistent and unimaginative branding schemes:
Mary Jo Foley talks about Windows Live branding, which is being pushed to be more consistent and make more sense. Major Windows Live sites are being rebranded as just “Live”, as in “Live Search”, “Live QnA” and “Live Maps”, while other services are being moved to MSN or being unofficially shuttered altogether. Windows Live Academic Search, Book Search and Search Translation are no longer being listed as seperate services, and it might be wise for them to consolidate more services in order to keep things in the realm of sanity.
Microsoft renamed WPF/E to Silverlight. Windows Presentation Foundation/Everywhere was an enormously wonderful system from Microsoft that allows the use of WPF graphics in web browsers, even Firefox and on Macs, bringing some amazing visuals to web apps, but it had a really crappy name. Now, it’s called Silverlight, and if you don’t think names are important, witness the attention Silverlight is getting on TechMeme. Yeah, now it’s important, whereas no one was paying attention to WPF/E.
Oh, and Microsoft MVP David Silverlight says it was named after him.
Remember Windows Live Barcode? Well, looks like Microsoft realized that it didn’t make sense as a Live service, taken it down, and made the service more interesting. The newly planned barcode, called a High Capacity Color Bar Code, will be in color, four or eight different hues to store significantly more data, and uses neat triangle shapes within the code to look much less jarring than the average bar code. It is designed for high quality printing (DVDs initially, followed by TV and display advertising) and to be read by consumers with camera phones or web cams, not shipping labels.
Finally, a long-standing Windows Live Beta is nearing final release. Windows Live Hotmail (nee’ Mail) is dropping the beta tag next month (and has already done so in Belgium and India). Other countries are getting it first, due to that being easier (smaller userbases), but expect U.S. users to get the final release (which is indistinguishable from release M10) in the first or second week of May.