I just stumbled across a comment in one of Paul Thurrott’s Windows IT Pro magazine network WinInfo Daily Updates from a few weeks back that the next version of Microsoft Office (Office 12) might be called “Microsoft Office Vista”. If that does happen, I think it would be a really bad idea…
To put it simply, consumers (and business end-users) get confused about what software they use. That makes life harder for people like me. Whenever I start working with a new organisation I often am amazed to find how many names a single critical line-of-business application might be known by and I’ve lost count of the number of times people have tried to tell me that they use Windows 97 or Office 98 (I know that there was an Office 98 – but that was for the Macintosh).
The last time Microsoft released a version of Office which included part of the operating system name in its product name (Office XP), consumers (and senior IT management – the non-technical ones) got confused and thought that Office XP was somehow linked to Windows XP (as far as I’m aware there are no such constraints). Similarly, I understand that Office Vista will be supported on both Windows XP and Windows Vista so any Office product name including the Vista moniker could be confusing.
Personally I liked the old system of using numbers to describe products (the one that works well for the competition too) and think it should be the “Microsoft Office System, version 12” (well, version 11 really because I seem to recall that the version numbers jumped from 4.3 to 6 a few years back as part of a game of “version number catchup”, but that’s too long ago to bother about now…). What about calling Windows Vista “Microsoft Windows, version 6”?