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Reader Feedback: Playing the Redmond Name Game

We're not totally sure what sparked this e-mail from Tom, but we like it:

"One of the problems with Live Search is the name. Multiple words make it harder to tell people the URL since you MUST use both words or else it is meaningless. Plus, if it cannot find what you are looking for, do you call it Dead Search? Google has become both a noun and a verb -- much to the chagrin of Google itself.

"Microsoft has NEVER designed a good name other than Windows for its products. Most of its names tend to be two to three words in length (or worse, that .NET moniker, which was and is horrible), and thus never flow when spoken or written. If Microsoft called its search engine or Web site DaVinci, that would have had cache -- and would be memorable -- but that is likely already taken.

"The best search engine name would be a single word of two syllables and evoke exploration, discovery or knowledge in English or a common European language (which we would easily adopt and recognize in English). But, alas, Microsoft marketing gets involved and ruins any good names that would be used."

Tom, we at RCPU are so with you on this. We find a lot of Microsoft product names really ponderous. Where do they come up with this stuff? In many cases, the product does what the name suggests (System Center Operations Manager comes to mind here, as does Windows Server). Other names, like SharePoint, actually seem pretty appropriate and aren't that bad, even though we're generally not fans of words getting SmashedTogether in product names. It feels a bit '90s to us.

But the spate of seemingly indiscriminate "Live" naming has led to a lot of confusion and has really muddled Microsoft's consumer Internet strategy, which has never seemed totally clear, anyway. Our favorite example is Office Live, which isn't actually a hosted version of Office but sounds as though it should be. And you're dead-on about Live Search; it has no flow and isn't even particularly memorable. Google has a nice bounce to it, but Live Search is slow and heavy rolling off the tongue and would be nearly impossible to pronounce while eating peanut butter.

What we want to know is what you, the faithful reader, would call Microsoft's search engine if you could rename it. Send your suggestions to, and have fun with it. And thanks to Tom for kicking all this off.

Posted by Lee Pender on 02/19/2009 at 1:22 PM


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