Monday, April 16, 2007

Out of the Naming Shadows

When I saw the link to Silverlight (the artist formerly known as WPF/e), I was thrilled that Microsoft is apparently starting to move toward more compelling product names. Remember the firestorm maybe 20 months ago (publicized by Scoble, though he was really just the messenger) over “Why can’t Microsoft products have cool names?” … Folks talked about the constant confusion over .net being followed by even more boring names like “Windows Presentation Foundation” and asked why “Sparkle” had to become “Expression Interactive Designer.”

At first it seemed that the Microsoft branding group got defensive, citing trademark issues, cultural sensitivity, etc. as reasons to steer away from stronger names. But now it looks like they’ve come around: first we found out that Expression Interactive Designer would be called “Blend” – this doesn’t redline my engine, but it’s definitely a step up.

Now “WPF/e = Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere” has the much sexier name “Silverlight” which makes me want to go grab a wizard’s cloak and conjure something. That’s a pretty encouraging reaction for a technology like this one. Besides the fantasy association, there’s also the sound of “silver screen” cinematics or a spotlight, which works for this product as well.

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