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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.

2001: HailStorm

Hail isn't exactly a form of weather resplendent with positive associations: it kills crops, damages cars, blinds drivers, and is downright painful - and occasionally deadly - to people unfortunate enough to get pelted by it.

Yet that's the codename that Microsoft chose to associate with the plans it unveiled in 2001 to deliver an array of web services and to store consumers' personal information for use with Microsoft and third-party offerings.

The notion of Microsoft controlling so much private data proved instantly controversial; the company changed HailStorm's name to .NET My Services, and then put the whole idea on hold And yet HailStorm wasn't so different from services that Microsoft, Google and Facebook offer today.

I can't help wondering whether it would have fared better if it hadn't had a name that suggested a violent weather disturbance descending from the heavens to afflict us mere mortals.

What it should have been called: Microsoft Passport - a name Microsoft gave its online ID service even before it announced HailStorm - wouldn't have been bad. Today, however, Microsoft Passports are known as Windows Live IDs (presumably to distinguish them from all those Windows IDs that have died).

2004: Windows Genuine Advantage

Understandably, Microsoft hates it when people pirate Windows. So it added multiple copy-protection measures such as activation and validation to Windows XP and Windows Vista. Collectively, they're known as Windows Genuine Advantage, which the company touts as a benefit to properly licensed users.

But WGA asks paying Microsoft customers to jump through piracy-detecting hoops. Worse, it's been known to accuse them of stealing Windows and shut off functionality.

What it should have been called: Sarky answer: Windows Genuine Disadvantage. Serious one: Windows Anti-Piracy Technology.

2004: PlaysForSure

This logo programme for services and devices that used Windows Media DRM may have been the single most inaccurately named item in the history of personal technology.

The name exuded hubris, but PlaysForSure tracks often FailedToPlay on PlaysForSure-enabled devices - and, of course, they didn't play at all on the world's most popular MP3 player, arch-rival Apple's iPod. For Pete's sake, they didn't even play on Microsoft's own music player when it appeared. By the time Microsoft shut down the PlaysForSure-powered MSN Music service, it had already rolled PlaysForSure into the blandly named Certified for Windows Vista program, which doesn't promise much of anything.

What it should have been called: MusicCripplingWindowsMediaDRM. Or just plain Windows Media, which is what PlaysForSure was beneath the patina of marketing hype.

NEXT PAGE: 2007 Microsoft Office System and Windows Live Essentials

  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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