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Will the death of two MS brands accompany Windows 8 birth?

Microsoft is reportedly planning to kill off Windows Live, Zune brands next week at the announcement of the preview version of Windows 8.

Remember the old "Saturday Night Live" catchphrase skit that "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead." That one came to mind after a report in The Verge surfaced on Friday suggesting that the "Windows Live" brand, an old and confusing Microsoft branding decision, and Zune, one of the company's recent embarrassments, are living on borrowed time.

The changes are supposed to be announced next week in Barcelona when Microsoft unveils the Consumer Preview version of Windows 8.

Microsoft didn't have any immediate comment on the report, which doesn't quote any sources. But if the decision gets confirmed, I'm sure we'll all be shocked, shocked by the news.

How can I say this without being unkind? Well, I can't. Suffice to say that Windows Live rates special mention in the marketing hall of fame as one of the most confusing brand names ever invented by a tech company (and that's saying a lot.) Over the years, Microsoft forced its users to struggle with a series of tongue-twisters invented by Microsoft. Perhaps the biggest problem was that Windows Live became a catch-all for myriad applications and services ranging from e-mail to apps. A longtime and keen observer of the Microsoft scene, Preston Gralla, neatly summed up the conundrum Microsoft faced almost from the get-go:

Given that many "Windows Live" services were accessible via a Web browser from non-Windows platforms, what did Windows have to do with them? Nothing. And why should DVD editing software carry the same branding as online storage? There was no reason at all.

Outside of that, sounded like a great idea at the time.

The highlights: Once Windows 8 comes out, Windows Live apps will get put into a collection of preinstalled applications in "Windows Communications" while "Windows Live ID" will become "Microsoft Account. The Zune music and video service brand is going to get replaced by the "Xbox Live for Windows" name.

You can read the details of the reported revamp here.