The Microsoft circles are talking again courtesy a tip from Paul Thurrot saying Zune as a brand will be killed and made a part of Windows Live. My first reaction? Microsoft pulls a Microsoft. My second reaction, what is Microsoft thinking? My third reaction, this blog post. Here’s a theory on what Microsoft might be planning under this alleged rebranding effort.

Long before Apple’s App Store for OS X came out, Windows 8 has been rumored to have an App Store and this move signals Microsoft’s intention for the same. So here’s the thing:

  • Zune is available on the phone, media player, desktop, Xbox and at some point of time in the next decade on tablets which means Zune Marketplace becomes a larger part of Microsoft’s Windows business by selling music and apps for Windows – phones, desktop, Xbox and tablets(?)
  • Microsoft kills either Windows Media Player or Media Center or both. The idea of having 3 media players with complete data media management is stupid, Zune streamlines my media management across all devices.
  • Allows me to buy apps for my devices from the same application.

Why bundle it under Windows Live?

I am perplexed by this. A web based Zune store being called Windows Live makes sense but with Hotmail, Messenger, Skydrive, Office Live being part of the entire suite of online services, it doesn’t. Which creates a bit of brand confusion. One is a service to buy apps, music the others are individual products.

Given Skydrive is becoming integral to Microsoft’s consumer online services, Office Live, Hotmail and Messenger can be put under one product as the others being features available.

I’d imagine Windows Live Essentials being rebranded at some point since these applications will be available in Microsoft’s Windows Live store.

Why not Xbox?

Zune’s brand image is associated with the music player that unfortunately did not do well (thanks to Microsoft no less) but Zune can be a part of Xbox and present Microsoft’s entertainment front but does not fit as a Windows App store.

The point being, this is as confusing for Microsoft given their wide array of services.