Juliet:  “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

Bob here.  When we deal with objects, it’s important to know how to refer to that object. This is true in real life, and is also true in the wonderful world of IT. And when it comes to naming things, nobody does it better than Microsoft.

Sorry, what I meant to say was that nobody does it worse than Microsoft.

Sure, there have been some folks in the past who have made some great mistakes. Remember the Chevy Nova? It wasn’t until it was released in Spanish-speaking countries that Chevrolet realized that the word “Nova” translates literally to “no go.” Or when KIA was first introduced into the United States, they didn’t realize the meaning of the letters KIA.

Ah, but Microsoft? Seriously, a database program named Access? How many of us loved say the sentence “can you access your Access database using Access?” How many of us were eager to become a MOUS (Microsoft Office User Specialist)?  Or their Windows Update Services (“WUS”)? And SharePoint? I have to believe that Microsoft has it written in their corporate bylaws somewhere that they simply cannot release 2 subsequent versions of this product with either the same name or same versioning scheme.

Google was able to take their flagship product and turn it into a verb. If you want to get a Microsoft employee slightly unnerved, simply tell them that you were “Googling” something. Of course, they would rather you were using the Bing search engine. However, that would imply that we were “Binging” which has its own implications (at this point you can insert your own joke about working in the word “Purging” into this article.  It’s not hard at all).

Or they’ll just throw the initials at us and hope it catches on. Let’s take BPOS, for example. Business Productivity Online Services. We pronounce it “Bee-Poss.” Catchy, huh? Okay, not really. Everybody pretty much agreed that the product name, simply put, stank. Trying to teach everybody what the initials were, how to pronounce them, what they had to do with e-mail, all of these and more led folks to the undeniable conclusion that Microsoft did not do a great amount of research on the naming of this puppy.

So their new offering, which includes the ability to acquire licensing for Microsoft Office, was done differently. They simply took the word office and added the number 365 to it. Pretty cool, huh?

Well, yeah. Sort of. Unfortunately, it opens up some new issues.

So, let’s say that we have to go search something regarding Office 365. So we go ahead and Google… sorry, I mean Bing, Office 365. Now, unfortunately, both the word “office” and the number “365″ are fairly common throughout the Internet. Even if we add the word “Microsoft” to that search, the Internet is already full of materials dealing with Microsoft Office that have nothing to do with the current 365 offering.

Say what you want about the name, but if you search for “BPOS,” the odds are you’re going to find stuff about that specific system. And yes, I know there are relatively simple ways that you can search online linking the words together so that only the phrase “Microsoft office 365″ will do. But that puts the onus on the end-user to find the information and support that they’re looking for. Our job as IT service providers “and Microsoft’s as IT product providers” is to make the task as easy as possible for those very end-users.

In the end, it’s more about the product than what we call it. And so far, I gotta admit that I’m very pleased with office 365, especially the link product. But it’s a good thing that Microsoft wasn’t behind any of Shakespeare’s plays. I shudder to think would Juliet might have said if she was from Redmond:

Juliet:  “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name is now referred to as the ‘Stem Tethered Integrated Natural Carbohydrate Emitting Rose’ (or STINCER)”