Microsoft late last week confirmed recent rumors that it would combine its separate Office Live and Windows Live online offerings into a single, cohesive set of online services. Currently, the software giant is expected to simply market these services as Microsoft Live Services, but rumors persist that it may eventually change to the odd brand "Kumo."

"To simplify and improve the customer experience around our Live services, we've made the decision to converge Windows Live and Office Live into an integrated set of services at one single destination," Office Live Workspace director Kirk Gregersen revealed in a blog post Friday. "We think that just makes a ton of sense and goes a long way toward giving you a simpler, richer, better service that allows you to do more with one account."

Currently, Microsoft offers the Office Live Workspace and Office Live Small Business services through its Office Live portal and a slew of more consumer-oriented online services and downloadable applications from Windows Live. According to Gregersen, over 4 million people have signed up for Office Live, while Windows Live has 460 million active users, making it one of the most popular online services worldwide.

Timing for the switchover is unclear, but Microsoft will likely time it to occur before or during the launch of its Office Web Applications service, which will provide Web-based versions of Word, Excel, and other popular Microsoft Office applications. The next version of the Office productivity suite, currently codenamed Office 14, is set for a late 2009/early 2010 release.

Equally unclear is Microsoft's intentions for Kumo. The software giant filed a trademark application for the Kumo brand in late 2008 and rumors have persisted since then that it would rebrand all of its consumer-oriented online services with that name.