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10 worst Microsoft product names of all time

Quite possibly the worst monikers ever

When it comes to naming products Microsoft is well-known for getting it wrong. Many of the product names dreamt up by Microsoft sound clunky; some are confusing, while others are undignified or overambitious. So we've put together the top 10 worst Microsoft product names ever.

1996-present: All Microsoft mobile software

At first, they were called Handheld PCs, and ran an OS known as Windows CE. Then they morphed into Palm PCs - until the PalmPilot people complained, whereupon they became Palm-size PCs. But only briefly: soon, Microsoft wanted us to call them Pocket PCs, and the software they ran was renamed Windows Mobile.

That name stuck around when the OS migrated from PDAs to phones, although it separated into two editions: Windows Mobile Pocket PC and Windows Mobile Smartphone. Then Microsoft declared that there were three Windows Mobile variants - Windows Mobile Classic, Windows Mobile Professional, and Windows Mobile Standard.

As for the devices themselves, Steve Ballmer declared in February of this year that they'd be known henceforth as Windows Phones - removing 'Mobile' from the name. Except for the fact that the OS is still Windows Mobile. Got that?

What they should have been called: Melvin. Or just about anything else, really, as long as it didn't keep changing.

2000: .NET

In the mid-1990s, critics accused Microsoft of being slow to jump on the internet bandwagon. By the dawn of the new millennium, however, it was firmly on board -and in June 2000, it unveiled a vision for online services it called .NET.

As originally articulated, .NET addressed consumers, businesses and developers, and it involved everything from programming languages to an online version of Microsoft Office to calendaring and communications services to a small-business portal to stuff for PDAs, mobile phones, and gaming consoles.

It was so wildly ambitious, so all-encompassing, and so buzzword-laden that it pretty much defied comprehension, at least if you weren't a professional geek. Which the company seemed to realise - it quickly stopped pushing the concept to consumers, instead restricting it to programming tools.

What it should have been called: How about 'Virtually everything Microsoft does involving the internet from this day forward', or VEMDIFTDF for short? Or taking a different tack, what if Microsoft had simply declared that it was now web-centric, no new branding required?

2000: Windows Millennium Edition

Microsoft couldn't call this successor to Windows 98 ‘Windows 2000' because it had already assigned that name to Windows NT's replacement. So the company saddled the OS with a name that was both pretentious and goofy, and gave it the overly adorable) nickname ‘Windows ME'.

It was probably bad juju: The product itself went on to be widely reviled as slow, glitchy, and insubstantial; and to this day its name rivals that of Microsoft Bob as shorthand for rubbish software.

What it should have been called: Windows 2001. Bonus virtue: That name would have given Microsoft an excuse to delay the OS for six months to fix bugs.

NEXT PAGE: HailStorm and Windows Genuine Advantage

  1. Quite possibly the worst monikers ever
  2. Handheld PCs and .NET
  3. HailStorm and Windows Genuine Advantage
  4. 2007 Microsoft Office System and Windows Live Essentials
  5. Six runners up that boast almost as unfortunate names


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