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Windows Live is the former collective brand name for a set of services and software products from Microsoft; part of their software plus services platform. A majority of these services are Web applications, accessible from a browser, but there are also client-side binary applications that require installation. There are three ways in which Windows Live services are offered: Windows Essentials applications, web services, and mobile services.
Microsoft said that Windows Live "is a way to extend the Windows user experience". Windows Vista provides a link in its user interface to download Windows Live Messenger, and Windows 7 saw the removal of applications such as Windows Mail, Windows Photo Gallery and Windows Movie Maker and replaced with the Windows Essentials suite, a software package that allows the downloading and installation of similar offerings from Windows Live. Microsoft announced that Windows 8 will see Windows Live apps included right out of the box, and will include built-in synchronization technologies powered by SkyDrive.
Besides Windows Live, which is mainly aimed at individuals, there are some other Web properties from Microsoft that are branded as "Live": Xbox LIVE multiplayer gaming and content delivery system for Xbox and Xbox 360, and the Games for Windows - LIVE multiplayer gaming service for Microsoft Windows. Another "Live" service, Office Live, was converged into Windows Live during the Wave 4 update, when Microsoft merged Office Live into the Windows Live team in January 2009.
The Windows Live brand was phased out during August 2012; coinciding with the RTM of Windows 8. Most services kept their name, but with the removal of "Windows Live" in front of them.
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Windows Azure is Microsoft's application platform for the public cloud. Windows Azure can be used to build a web application that runs and stores its data in Microsoft datacenters. It can connect on-premises applications with each other or to map between different sets of identity information.
In June 2012, Windows Azure released the following new features:
The Windows Azure Platform provides an API built on REST, HTTP, and XML that allows a developer to interact with the services provided by Windows Azure. Microsoft also provides a client-side managed class library which encapsulates the functions of interacting with the services. It also integrates with Microsoft Visual Studio, Git, and Eclipse so that it can be used as the IDE to develop and publish Azure-hosted applications.
Windows Azure became commercially available on 1 Feb 2010.
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