We all know Microsoft has a thing for dumb product names. You need look no further than Windows for this:
- Microsoft Windows 3: Fair enough. Nice, simple, easy to understand.
- Microsoft Windows 3.1: A bit technical, but hey, computers were only for geeks back then, so this is fine, too.
- Microsoft Windows 95: Huh? A model year? What version is this, anyway? Do I have to buy this every year now?
- Microsoft Windows 98: And no Office 98? What happened to Windows 97? And what version is this, still 4? (Yes.)
- Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition: Second Edition? Really? Why not just ‘Windows 99’? Is this really a completely new product?
- Microsoft Windows 2000: Huh? Incompatible with earlier versions? We were just getting used to these regular, trivial updates. So this regular, trivial name change actually implies a completely different version of Windows? Okay. By the way, internally, this is now Windows 5.
- Microsoft Windows ME: Yup. The name makes no sense at all. Is this older? Newer? What does ‘ME’ mean? Me? Millennium Edition? And would someone explain to me just why exactly we’ve gone back to version 4? Also, why was this piece of shit even released, now that Microsoft had the vastly superior version 5 to work with?
- Microsoft Windows XP: Oh, good, another two random letters. I’m assuming this is alphabetical, so XP must be newer than ME. This is also about the time Microsoft decided to experiment with a bit of market segmentation. Home, Professional, Media Center, Embedded, N editions… what fun!
- Microsoft Windows Vista: Sweet, a random word! And hey, what better random time to bump the version number up to 6! And hell, let’s triple the number of editions we offer; this stuff is nowhere near as confusing as it could be.
- Microsoft Windows 7: Oh, back to versions, are we? Thank god, at least the confusion will end. What a minute, though… there were 7 versions between 3 and 7? Oh well, we all know computers suck at math. The real problem, of course, is that Windows 7 is actually version 6.1. And if you think that’s annoying now, just wait until there actually is a version 7 and it’s called Windows 9.3.
The market segmentation thing is a bit over the top, too. For Windows 7, we’ll have:
- Home Basic
- Home Premium
Each of these editions is available in both x86 and x64 versions (except Starter), so now we’re up to 11 editions. Think we’re about done? Hah! We also have the ‘E’ editions, which don’t include a web browser. Don’t even get me started on that one… Oh, and we still have the ‘N’ versions, which cut out Media Player, as well. Each of those editions is available for all of the other releases. My math might be out, but I believe that means we’re now up to 33 editions of Windows 7 – and that’s before you start to look at language and region options, service packs, and add-ons!
And how about awkward marketing bastardizations? Did you know there’s no such thing as Microsoft Office 2007? In fact, it’s called “2007 Microsoft Office System”. System? Where’d that come from? Word is called “Microsoft Office Word 2007”. Even a simple mouse can’t have a simple name: “Microsoft Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000”.
And if you think the consumers have it tough, just try being a developer. Then you get to deal with products like these:
- Microosft Visual Studio® Team System 2008 Team Foundation Server with SQL Server 2005 Technology
- Microsoft® WinFX™ Software Development Kit for Microsoft® Pre-Release Windows Operating System Code-Named "Longhorn", Beta 1 Web Setup
The IT folks are no better off:
- Microsoft Office Live Communications Server Public Instant Messaging Connectivity
- Microsfot Forefront Client Security Management Console with SQL Server 2005 Technology
- Microosft Web Antimalware Subscription for Forefront Threat Management Gateway Medium Business Edition
And then we have what is perhaps the longest product name ever used by anyone for anything in the history of human civilization. This product name is so long that by the time you get to the end of it, you can’t even remember what you read anymore:
- Microsoft Office Communications Server Public Instant Messaging Connectivity with Yahoo Instant Messaging service and America Online (AOL) Instant Messaging Service
That’s 165 characters long! We’re now into database-breaking territory. I’m sure there were developers out there who said “Product.Name? Surely 128 characters is long enough for this one!”. Format this as a title using Microsoft Office Word 2007 and it’s five lines long. Even the Onion couldn’t do a better job of mocking Microsoft here.
Please, Microsoft, fix this. Fix it now. Stick to this format:
Microsoft <Product> <Version> [<Edition>]
Let <Product> and <Edition> be one word, and let <Version> be a number.
And please, people, just because Microsoft does it does NOT mean you should do it.