Windows on ARM May Get Its Own Brand

Steve Wildstrom / April 16th, 2012

The Wall Street Journal‘s Don Clark is reporting that Microsoft is considering calling the version of Windows that will run on ARM chips something other than Windows 8, the  name expected to be used for the Intel/AMD version. But I can only hope that his belief that the Windows-on-ARM operating system may be called Windows RT is wrong.


First, it’s a lousy name. It does not fall trippingly off the tongue. The best you can say is that it is better than WOA, hard-core tech-speak for Windows-on-ARM. Windows Tablets are going to need all the marketing help they can get and something with a little more pizzazz would be  helpful.

Second and more important, Windows RT would be a really confusing name, because of its extreme similarity to WinRT, which is how developers usually refer to the programming model for Windows 8 Metro apps. Among developers, programs written for Metro as usually referred to as WinRT apps. In theory, at least, all WinRT apps should run on both Windows 8 and Windows RT, if those are the names Microsoft chooses. But the whole thing seems unnecessarily confusing.
 

Steve Wildstrom

Steve Wildstrom is veteran technology reporter, writer, and analyst based in the Washington, D.C. area. He created and wrote BusinessWeek’s Technology & You column for 15 years. Since leaving BusinessWeek in the fall of 2009, he has written his own blog, Wildstrom on Tech and has contributed to corporate blogs, including those of Cisco and AMD and also consults for major technology companies.
  • I’d like to say that Microsoft is the King of creating terrible product names but – to be fair – Microsoft has a lot of competition for that title. There’s a lot of really badly named products out there.

    Remember when Microsoft wanted to name their new phone operating system: “Windows Phone 7 Series”? Then they were so proud of themselves when they relented and removed the word “Series”. Why ever would you be proud of that? Who the hell ever thought adding “Series” to then end of the name was a good idea in the first place? I mean, seriously, “Series”? WTF?

    Now let’s break down the rest of the name.

    – “Windows”. Yuck. I’m sure that Microsoft thought that the word “Windows” would remind everyone of their desktop operating system. Unfortunately for Microsoft, they were right.

    – “Phone”. Why would you the word “phone” in the name of your phone? Apple does it but they are very careful never to refer to the “iPhone phone”. They just call it the iPhone. But how do you talk about the Windows Phone 7 phone with out repeating the word phone? Oh yeah…you don’t.

    And then there was WinCE. Wince. Brilliant.

    And, of coarse, WOA. Can you imagine Apple ever naming a product “WOA” even if it was only in-house? Honest to God, it sometimes seems like Microsoft goes out of their way to be obtuse.

    Finally, Windows RT. (Picture my head banging on the desk.)

    EDIT: I just read that “RT” stands for “Runtime”. And you fricking kidding me? You choose “runtime” as a distinguishing feature that you thought buyers would remember? Words fail me.

    I’m not an industry expert (although I’ve read some books regarding naming conventions) but I do know that a name should be short, descriptive or evocative of a feeling, unique, easy to say and spell, and very easy to remember.

    Using letters to describe an operating system doesn’t accomplish any of the above. (I’m not a big fan of iOS or OS X either, although I think there are reasons why they kinda sorta work. Android works. Symbian too. BlackBerry worked great. QNX? Not so much.)

    Further, Microsoft is about to introduce an all-in-one operating system that works on desktops, Intel tablets and ARM tablets. Why not come out with a trio of names that work together? (Oh wait, I know why – because Microsoft wants to pretend that they are all one operating system even though they are no such thing!)

    Look, I readily admit that getting a product name right is hard. But it’s absolutely impossible to do when you’re Microsoft and you’re not even trying.

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