In a sudden mad bid to simplify its product and services lineups, Microsoft recently announced that it was killing the Windows Live brand, and it has been working behind the scenes to remove Zune as well. This week, another brand apparently got the axe: It appears Microsoft is dropping the “Azure” brand from a wide lineup of cloud services, too.

For some reason, however, the software giant hasn’t issued an explanatory press release or blog post explaining the massive change. Instead, it was revealed in an email message to Azure customers.

“In the coming weeks, we will update the Windows Azure Service names,” the message notes. “These are only name changes: Your prices for Windows Azure are not impacted.”

Unlike with Windows Live, the name changes don't simply involve removing the words “Windows Azure” or “SQL Azure” from the branding, for the most part. Instead, each Azure service is being rebranded with a simpler, more obvious name. The following list explains the changes:

Old name = New name

Windows Azure Compute = Cloud Services

Windows Azure Platform - All Services = All Services

Windows Azure CDN = CDN

Windows Azure Storage = Storage

Windows Azure Traffic Manager = Traffic Manager

Windows Azure Virtual Network = Virtual Network

AppFabric Cache = Cache

AppFabric Service Bus = Service Bus

AppFabric Access Control = Access Control

SQL Azure = SQL Database

SQL Azure Reporting Service = SQL Reporting

As is increasingly common, Microsoft didn’t bother to announce the apparent branding changes formally with a press release or through normal press contacts, nor did it pre-brief anyone. In fact, it didn’t even reveal the changes via a blog post, Twitter tweet, or Facebook posting. Instead, this information was revealed via email to Azure customers whose primary message was about minor changes to the Azure privacy statement.

With this, Microsoft’s continued inability to communicate effectively is reaching absurd levels. Next, we’ll find out that Microsoft has sold Bing to Apple because Bing services will be integrated throughout iOS. (I’m kidding. Sort of.)