Your name is important. It identifies you, both to yourself and others. Expectant couples agonize over naming their coming bundles of joy. Businesses pay huge sums of money to consultants to come up with the perfect name for a new product or service. Certain names attain the lofty the status of “brand”, like Coke, Apple, Disney, Microsoft, Intel, to name a few.
Once a name becomes “tarnished”, it’s hard to regain the sheen. Sometimes the only thing to do is change the name completely, then rely on the famously short American memory to heal the wound. After a tragic accident and suspension of service, Atlanta-based low-cost airline “ValueJet” renamed, repainted, rebranded, and re-emerged as “AirTran”, and has flourished since.
This October marks the fourth anniversary of the release of Windows XP. As is always the case with technology companies, the ink wasn’t dry on the Windows XP User Manuals before Microsoft was touting the capabilities and features of the next generation of the Windows operating system.
The internal (but not for long) codeword for the next-generation system was “Longhorn”, named after a saloon located between “Whistler” and “Blackcomb”, two mountains in British Columbia. Incidentally, Whistler was the codename for Windows XP, and Blackcomb is the codename for the next-next generation of Windows (which, at the current rate, is due roughly around the time our sun is scheduled to supernova). But, I digress.
So, anyway, Windows Longhorn has been saddled with delays, and its scheduled release in 2004 obviously didn’t happen. As release dates kept getting pushed back, some pundits began calling it “Longwait”. To try to get the beleaguered system out the door faster, Microsoft had to scale back or completely remove some of the more “ambitious” features, which, of course, prompted some to call the system “Shorthorn”. All this while Windows XP users continued to enjoy the “value-added” features of viruses, spyware, adware, and pop-up browser ads.
So what do you do, as the richest and most powerful company the world has ever known, to stem the tide of bad publicity and reduced expectations? Of course. You change the name.
“Longhorn” has become “Vista”. Two weeks ago, amid much hoopla (a technical term for aggressive promotion) Microsoft seeded the first beta version of Vista to 20,000 testers (soon to be released to a half-million developers), and announced the general release “sometime in 2006”. This is believed to mean at least the late summer or fall of 2006, or in time for Vista to be loaded on PCs that sell during next year’s holiday shopping season.
As the system is still in the beta stage and therefore missing features sure to be there next summer or fall, it’s a bit early to go into great detail about what we’ll see in Vista. In fact, I’m almost certain the barrage of such information next summer will be more than sufficient, if not excruciating.
In general terms, Vista focuses on security, stability, and an improved user experience. Now, where have we heard those terms associated with an operating system? Class? Anyone? Bueller? Anyone?
Yes, you in the back. That’s right. Apple’s currently-shipping “Tiger”. Vista will inevitably be compared to Tiger (that is, until Mac OS 10.5, “Leopard”, is released concurrent with the final version of Vista now, won’t that be fun?). Vista has a desktop search feature similar to Tiger’s Spotlight and advanced imaging similar to Core Image that powers Tiger’s Dashboard and Expose´. Hopefully, it will not be an acronym for Viruses Infections Spyware Trojans Adware. Time will tell.
© 2005 Peter F. Zimowski