Microsofties are doing that self-critical thing over code names, specifically cool code names that never make it onto final products. It began with a post by software design test engineer Chris Smith, who was commenting on Nintendo’s decision to change its new console’s name from “Revolution” to “Wii”:
Before I act too harshly on Nintendo for having a cooler codename than product name, here is a list of Microsoft codenames which would make for some pretty interesting products:
Bulletproof – Microsoft mail remote client
“The” Duke – Microsoft Xbox controller
Gandalf – Microsoft Encarta 93
Idaho – An early Windows prototype after XP (I’m from Idaho, so it’s cool 🙂
Nemesis – Microsoft Windows Media Encoder 7.0
Omega – An early version of Microsoft Access
Tarantula – Microsoft personal web server (IIS for Windows 95)
Thunder – Microsoft Visual Basic v1.0
Zamboni – Microsoft Visual C++ v4.1
Webster said he’s not trying to be the “fun police,” but the company has to be really careful with names. His comment suggests that code naming could eventually be phased out.
My first and primary point is that we should be creating our real product names much sooner, thus reducing the need for codenames in the first place. The equity built in codenames is generally wasted. Buzz is built, communities develop, attachments form and then we switch the name to something new. This isn’t a good thing.
So my main pitch to marketers across Microsoft is to drive naming timelines from disclosure dates, not RTM dates as has been the practice. If they do this early enough, no code name needed.
That would draw a hailstorm of protest, from journalists, at least.