A year and a half ago, I wrote about how Microsoft should completely abandon the name "Windows" for their OS name. I was completely serious about it, but I knew it would never happen. It seems that maybe the Windows marketing team took some of what I had to say to heart in coming up with the new name for Longhorn. They didn't ditch it, but I think they did the next best thing.
Windows Vista... where do I start? Well, I think it's freakin awesome! How in the world can anyone get excited about "Windows 2006"? Yawn. That's fine, as long as it's still 2006. But when 2007 rolls around, it already sounds dated. Think about when you last heard someone talking about Windows 2000. I bet your first reaction is "that's so 5 years ago." In computer years, that's practically a lifetime. But with "Windows Vista'', you get a very emotional reaction. Personally. The word "vista'' makes me think of standing on the ledge of the Grand Canyon and looking out on the horizon. From a logical standpoint, it makes perfect sense. What are you gonna see when you look out a window? A view. Vista is Spanish for view. Do I need to draw you a freakin picture? Hah. Just kidding.
It's almost uncanny, the response from average users. So far, it has followed almost the exact same pattern, verbatim:
Me: What do you think of "Windows Vista"?
Person X: (silence...) That's like a view, right?
Person X: (silence...) Yeah. (tone of voice goes up.) I get it. That's really cool!
It's very interesting to me the tone of voice in the reaction after the name clicks in their head. Regular people get excited about it. Think about it. When was the last time that happened? People lined up by the thousands for the midnight launch of Windows 95. But that was 10 years ago. Maybe a creative new name will help generate enough interest to get people to make the switch.
One other thing I've noticed about the name... most geeks hate it... at least at first. They like the date names and stuff. But most end up feeling the same way Ryan Hoffman felt after a day or two. Also an interesting pattern to watch.
Now lets talk about the tagline...
Clear. Confident. Connected. Bringing clarity to your world.
That's really powerful start. Three words that invoke a very visceral response from people. These are things that people want their computers to be. The world is a really fast-paced place, and the masses hunger for technologies that can make life simpler a easier to understand. But the masses shouldn't have to understand the details of how their computer works to get it to work. It should just work for them, and it should provide clear answers when it doesn't work.
That's not the case today, not even with Windows XP. Except for "Connected", Windows today does not embody these terms. Computes do not bring clarity to most people. Most people cannot stand interacting with their computer. They have to deal with viruses, spyware, or spam. They have to deal with device drivers & network connections. Computers don't made life easier... just more complicated. Hell, I LOVE technology, and most days I still want to chuck my laptop out a window. You shouldn't have to be a geek like me to get through a day with your computer.
Confident. That's such a great word. You almost stick your chest out a little further as you say it. Many if its synonyms are so overused in the industry. Words like "secure", "protected", etc. But "confident" works differently in the mind; its much broader in scope. For example, it makes you think that after 6 iterations, Microsoft is confident they're finally getting it right. And you can be confident that your computer isn't going to become a zombie, handing out your personal information to anyone and everyone it can. Confident is a very strong word, especially in a world where so many people lack basic confidence in themselves and others.
So Windows Vista has a bright future, I think. Microsoft has done a fantastic job trying to make this release about what Windows can do for people, not what it can do for the hardware. Think about it. For 20 years, Microsoft has been focused on how to make your computer do stuff. Where Microsoft has totally sucked for about as long is in finding out how their customers took advantage of all that stuff their computer could do. I was up in Redmond last week, and I found out that this time around, Microsoft did a ton of really innovative testing with average users. The results of that testing will be very apparent when Windows Vista Beta 2 rolls around, although some of it is already apparent in this release.
Now, Microsoft engineers have to deliver on the marketing-speak (typically referred to as B.S.) Seriously, when was the last time you felt like Microsoft's software really delivered on the capabilities that the marketing people said it had? There's definitely a gap there. It's time to close that gap, and overdeliver on what Windows Vista will be capable of. Take note, marketers: you've done a good job so far... now let the OS speak for itself. You are confident in it, aren't you? ;).