What's in a Name?

5:45 PM -- Be forewarned: I’m going to rant about Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) again. Specifically, I’m going to complain that their either out-of-control on non-functioning marketing department needs to get a clue about product names. As I wrote before (Apple v Microsoft), Microsoft is only in it for the money and can’t really be expected to produce good products. They are a monopoly and know it, and they will defend that monopoly until hell freezes over. And with global warming and all, that would be, um... never.

I have no idea why they keep changing the name of their flagship PC OS. Let’s see, it was Windows 3.0 (ignoring the original Windows and Windows/286 and /386), then the groundbreaking 3.1 (the one that actually sort of mostly worked); then it mysteriously became 95, then 98, then just as mysteriously ME (the one that didn’t work), XP (three versions), and now Vista (six versions). What’s the point of all this name changing? Why aren’t we all simply running Windows 7.0 or whatever? And why is every other product called Explorer? I don’t want to explore -- I just want to get the report out without a lot of rebooting!

This thinking has obviously carried over to the handheld OS. Let’s see, we’ve got Windows CE, Pocket PC, Pocket PC Phone Edition, Smartphone 2002, 2003, 5.0 and now 6.0, and -- oh my, I’m confused. Really. I am. And it’s nearly impossible to tell what applications and drivers run on what.

My question therefore is: What’s the point of this naming nightmare? Anyone from Microsoft care to enlighten us? And can we please simplify this mess in the future?

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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