Viewing Vista: Peering into the Future of Windows

July 25, 2005

When Microsoft announced last week that the name for the new release of Windows would be called Vista, my first thought was, îthat's a pretty good name.î My second thought was, îhow on earth is that name available?î

Since the beginning of the Internet boom in the 1990s, the availability of good suggestive names made up of real words (like Oracle or Windows) has been greatly diminished. This is the reason that we've seen so many coined names (made from real words like FatBrain and morphemes like Agilent), over the past 15 years or so.

Not surprisingly, Microsoft is going to face a legal challenge from another Redmond company and will have one of four options:

1. Come up with another name for Vista
2. Negotiate an agreement with the other company
3. Buy the other company
4. Assume Microsoft's deep pockets and litigious history will scare claimants off

My money is on #4. Microsoft has an army of legal experts on staff and would never have announced the Vista name unless they were 100% confident of their ability to go to market with that name. Unfortunately, most companies don't have that option and have to come up with names that have fewer legal hurdles to overcome.

-Barry Cowan

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