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Microsoft to merge Windows Live & Office Live

Online services to become unified online portal

Microsoft has confirmed that it will merge its Office Live and Windows Live services into one unified online portal.

However, Microsoft did not give a specific timeframe for the move and declined to provide any other information, including whether the service would be known as Kumo.

"Microsoft has made the decision to converge Windows Live and Office Live, that includes Office Live Workspace and Office Live Small Business, into an integrated set of services delivered through one single destination," Kirk Gregerson, product manager for Office Live Workspace said in a blog.

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Currently, there are two separate portals through which users can reach Windows Live and Office Live. Office Live services are related to Microsoft's Office software, while Windows Live are applications and services that more closely align with functionality in the Windows OS.

Based on actions Microsoft has taken, it has been rumoured since last year that it plans to rename its search engine and possibly its entire line of online services under the name Kumo, so the integration could be preparation for that move. Microsoft has declined to comment on any name change for its search engine or services.

However, on December 4, 2008, Microsoft filed a trademark application for the Kumo name. The application is to trademark a host of software and services that include not only a search engine, but also advertising and telecommunications services, education, training, entertainment and the design and development of computer hardware and services.

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Prior to that, according to Whois.Net, Microsoft registered the kumo.com domain, and through CSC, a company that manages domain names for corporations, also registered related domains that indicate the Kumo name could be used for other services. Those domains include: www.kumosearch.com, www.kumopics.com, www.kumowiki.com, www.kumogroups.com and www.kumotravel.com.

Kumo is a Japanese word that can be used to mean 'cloud', 'ceiling' or 'sea spider' among other things, according to an online Japanese-to-English translation service.

Both Windows Live and Office Live, while somewhat recognisable by Microsoft customers and web users, are fairly new brand names for the company. Microsoft revealed them in November 2005 in conjunction with a revamp of its online services.

Still, the company's Online Services Business - home to Windows Live, Office Live and the company's online advertising business - is its least financially successful one, and Microsoft has struggled with developing an audience and solid base of users on the web. Microsoft said the upcoming change does not affect current product cycles for its Office Live and Windows Live services, and the company will have more to share about specifics of the change "at a later date".

See also: Web-based Office to get edit online function


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