Barney's Rubble

Name Cha-Cha-Cha-Changes

Microsoft naming fun.

Technology is plenty complicated. You have to deal with cmdlets, routing tables, registries, Group Policy... and I haven't even started on programming. On top of that and the ever cha-changing nature of technology you must dissect needlessly complex software licenses, some so arcane even Ben Bernanke would be mystified.

To make sure your synapses are fully taxed, Microsoft keeps changing the names it uses just for test software. Remember the good old days of alpha, beta and release? That got changed somehow. When Redmond chooses to be consistent it still uses beta, release candidate, release to manufacturing and general availability. But there are also developer previews, consumer previews and, just recently, Microsoft changed release candidate to release preview.

Coca-Cola, McDonald's and Disney have stuck to their guns. What kid doesn't like a Coke, a cheeseburger and an expensive trip to Disney World?

I'm even having trouble keeping track of key product names. There are three new ones on the way and I can't for the life of me figure out how Windows 8, Internet Explorer 10, Office 15 and SharePoint 15 got their names. Windows has had more names than Puff Daddy.

In the case of Windows 8, it went through this condensed list: Windows 1, 2 and 3, then 95, 98 and 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista and finally Windows 7 with a little Windows Me, NT Workstation and 2000 tossed in. And don't forget: Each of these products had up to six concurrent versions.

Office went through Office 1, then skipped 2 and leapt to 3 and 4, switched over to 95, 97, 2000, XP, 2007, 2010 and now Office 15. This represents four different approaches to naming -- a couple of which were in line with the Windows client.

SharePoint was first Site Server, then Office Server, SharePoint Portal Server 2001, SharePoint 2.0/2003, SharePoint 3.0/2007 and SharePoint 2010. And now it's leaping to SharePoint 15.

Even more confusing are full-on name changes. Microsoft Operations Manager became System Center, SoftGrid became App-V, and Bing used to be Windows Live Search (before it was MSN Search). Office 365 used to be Microsoft Business Productivity Online Suite, and Lync used to be Office Communications Server.

Microsoft just disclosed that Windows Live is going away, but it hasn't said what will replace it.

And as this is the TechEd issue, I must point out that the show used to be called Tech•ed and Tech•Ed -- and is now just TechEd. Thank goodness. Do you know how hard it is to get a "•" on a QWERTY keyboard?

Thoughts on Microsoft names and TechEd are equally welcome at

About the Author

Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.

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Reader Comments:

Sat, Jan 12, 2013 Bala AZ

Wow! I thought it was just me who could not remember straight MS product names. Thanks for the summarized view of all of its product name changes. There are a few more in the developer domain such as Visual Studio, Visual Studio.Net and all the other .Nets such as ASP.Net, now it is VS.Net with various flavors of it, FrontPage turning into something else, Office not including Visio in any of its packaging even though it belongs to the same business group. To top it, do you remember Microsoft GreatPlains Business Solution Dynamics and Solomon?

Mon, Jun 25, 2012 CharlieJ Southeastern USA

Doug, You forgot WFW (aka 3.11), which MS said was a different version than 3.0 or 3.1... and Office 2003. Oh, and it's easy to get a "∙". Google it...and you'll find an answer just for ASCIIing. OK, that was a bad one. ∙Sorry∙

Wed, Jun 13, 2012

When you look inside, the techies and the marketers are totally at odds: Windows 7 (outside) is Windows 6.1 (inside); Windows 8 (outside) is Windows 6.2 (inside). I'm wondering what they'll call the "real" Windows 7 and 8 when they arrive?

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