We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message

Why Is It Called "Windows?"

Spiderowych asked the Windows forum why Microsoft gave their operating system such a simple, one-word name

Microsoft has inconsistently followed a marketing strategy of using basic, descriptive, one-word names. Word is an excellent example. So are Money and Office.

The name Windows fits into that philosophy. At the time of its original release late in 1985, most operating systems were single-tasking, text-only, and ran from a command line--like DOS if you remember that. Graphic user interfaces (GUIs) were still new. The Mac, less than two years old at that time, was the only GUI-based system enjoying commercial success. The word windows simply described one of the most obvious differences between a GUI and a command-line interface.

Of course, the name was never officially Windows, but Microsoft Windows. From the company's point of view, that's important. You can't trademark a common word like windows all by itself. (I suppose they could have trademarked Slow and Buggy Windows, but I guess that didn't get passed the Marketing Department.)

These one-word Microsoft names can cause some interesting mind associations. During that brief, pre-Internet time when everyone was publishing reference books on CD-ROM, the folks in Redmond released a CD called Microsoft Dogs. I thought it was a bundle of Microsoft Money and Microsoft Bob.

Read the original forum discussion.

Contributing Editor Lincoln Spector writes about technology and cinema. Email your tech questions to him at [email protected], or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum. Follow Lincoln on Twitter, or subscribe to the Answer Line newsletter, e-mailed weekly.

IDG UK Sites

Nexus 6 vs Sony Xperia Z3 comparison: Lollipop phablet takes on KitKat flagship smartphone

IDG UK Sites

Why people aren't upgrading to iOS 8: new features are for power users, not the average Joe

IDG UK Sites

Free rocket & space sounds: NASA launches archive of interstellar audio on SoundCloud

IDG UK Sites

iPad Air 2 review: Insanely fast and alarmingly thin. Speed tests, camera tests, beautiful...