What’s in a Name?

 Microsoft is going to call its next OS Windows 7.  Some people think this is a bad thing.

It has long been a pet peeve of mine that people think people are so shallow that a couple magic words will somehow miraculously transform a product or a company.  Some things just are what they are, and while they need a name so they can be called something, it doesn’t really matter what you call it. 

The current MS OS brand name is Vista.  That name has become a toxic asset, and Microsoft is dumping it.  However, “Vista” hasn’t become a curse word in some circles because many people find the name inherently repulsive; it’s because many people, fairly or not, find the product behind the name inherently repulsive.  

So Microsoft is going to call what is essentially Vista Second Edition a new name: Windows 7.  Some find this name disgustingly boring.  Maybe I’m out of touch, but if you’re looking to get excited by the names of computer operating systems, I think you need to get a life, or at least some porn.

If MS makes the successor to Vista a lot better than Vista, it does not matter how unexciting or even bad the name is.  If the successor to Vista ends up being as bad or worse than V, it does not matter how good the name is. 

Let’s say the powers at Redmond took this “7 is so boring” the wrong way and called a news conference to say, “‘Windows 7″ doesn’t get you hot and bothered enough?  OK, shallow ones, just to show you up, from now on, we’re calling it ‘Windows Rotting Vomit.'”  

While I’m sure the Linux and MacOS X fanatics would claim this was a rare instance of Redmond truth-in-advertising, and everyone would call it “Windows RV” really quickly, would the name stop you from buying the product if it were good?  

Conversely, let’s say the powers at Redmond took this complaint to heart, called a news conference, threw themselves postrate on the floor and cried out, “We have sinned, forgive us!  Our terminally boring name is not worthy of our insanely great product!  We will rename our product “Windows Eternal Orgasm,” that ought to rev you up.” 

Would that make you buy five extra copies of the OS, just to have them around so you could look at the name?

Really, when was the last time you really got excited about milk?  Milk, what a boring name!  Wouldn’t you buy a lot more of it if it had a sexier name like “Best of Breast?”   

How about your friendly national tax authorities?  I bet you just swell with love and affection when you hear words like IRS, Revenue Canada, Inland Revenue, Bundesministerium der Finanzen, or Riksskatteverket.  No?  You don’t?  I bet you’d change your mind if they adopted a sweeter name like “Intimate Exchanges.” 

You buy a product, you buy a service from a company.  The name is about as important as a price tag.  Now a name or brand might symbolize something good about a product or service, but the name itself is just a collection of letters.  An Apple would still be an Apple if it were called a Kumquat instead. 


About Ed Stroligo 95 Articles
Ed Stroligo was one of the founders of Overclockers.com in 1998. He wrote hundreds of editorials analyzing the tech industry and computer hardware. After 10+ years of contributing, Ed retired from writing in 2009.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply