Rolling Water Uphill

A little tip for Microsoft: take a lesson from water, find the path of least resistance and name your products the way people want to call them.

A little background. I’ve been in Redmond, WA for a week, working on learning everything I can about Windows Vista and the tools for creating Vista content, especially Expression Interactive Designer.

To put it very simply, Expression Interactive Designer is a tool where designers and developers can work in the same program at the same time. Definitely an exciting and pretty revolutionary idea (which I’ll be writing more about in the near future). The name it had before it really had a name was “Sparkle”. Sparkle sounds fun, exciting, and somehow magic. It’s also simply catchier and easier to say. In all conversations here at Microsoft, everyone still calls the thing Sparkle. Expression Interactive Designer sounds boring and dry, and if you have to say it more than once in half an hour you’d start calling the thing Sparkle too.

The same goes for Expression Web Designer and Expression Graphic Designer, formerly known as “Quartz” and “Acrylic” repectively, not to mention the Windows Presentation Foundation, once known as “Avalon”.

Microsoft definitely wants, even needs, designers to get excited about Vista. It may only help a little bit, but if they name their products so that they sound fun, that might be a first step.

The other option would be to rename their existing products in a manner consistent with what seems to be their new strategy. So instead of Word we’d have “Text Writer”, Excel could be “Spreadsheet Bookkeeper” and how about a new version of Powerpoint called “Presentation Maker”?