Before I began my venture into blogging and journalism, I was a technology sales associate at the all mighty office supply store, Staples. My geeky knowledge was used to sell a number of different products, including Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system – oh, and overpriced warranties, of course! Launch day was an exciting event, but consumers came in a bit confused; there were two version of Windows to choose. Eventually, a few stress balls later, I was able to inform the average consumer on the difference between Windows 8 and Windows RT.
The Original Name Game
The name confusion didn’t stop there for many consumers, just the idea that there existed a product called Windows Phone, lead many of them to think that their full desktop operating system could now be used on a smartphone – this is the backstory to why I believe that Microsoft’s decision to name both their smartphone and PC operating system, Windows 10, is a poor one.
Microsoft used to have a problem with creating too many different variations of their software. Not too long ago, the Redmond-based company offered their Windows Vista operating system in six different flavors. Did you want the starter edition? How about the Home Basic edition? Maybe Home Premium? Or if you want the full package, Business, Enterprise, or Ultimate might work. It was a confusion nightmare.
The same situation was evident with Microsoft’s original mobile operating system, Windows Mobile (formally Pocket PC). Did you want Microsoft Mobile Professional for your touchscreen smartphone? How about Microsoft Mobile Standard for your non-touchscreen smartphone? Maybe you want Microsoft Mobile Classic for your Personal Digital Assistant – the options continued to overwhelm consumers.
Better – Not Perfect.
Luckily, Microsoft got it right! They released Windows 8 in three editions – regular, professional, and enterprise (although boxing one edition in six different cases didn’t help). Then, of course, there was Windows RT for ARM-based units. They may not have achieved the actual simpler model we were dreaming for, but at least they cut the number of editions in half. Even better, Windows Phone Series 7 was renamed to Windows Phone.
When Microsoft announced Windows 10, we figured we would see the same trend of three different editions, and as of current rumors – that appears to be true.
However, Microsoft did not stop there; they made a decision that they felt would unify the entire ecosystem – they decided to call everything Windows 10. What do you have on your PC? Windows 10. What do you have on your tablet? Windows 10. What do you have on your phone? Windows 10.
While I agree that Windows 10 for both PC and tablet editions makes complete sense, as a former retail salesperson, I see Windows 10 on your smartphone as a true nightmare. When a consumer walks into AT&T, a representative won’t just tell them that the phone runs ‘Windows’, but that it runs ‘Windows 10’. For the average consumer, the confusion has just increased.
While working in the retail space and dealing with family and friends on a daily basis, the confusion of whether or not Windows Phone allowed users to run a full-blown desktop operating system continually came into questions. However, at least in this circumstance, the two platforms were named slightly different. With Windows 10, both the phone and the desktop have the same name, which will provide some headaches for retail tech representatives when dealing with customers.
It is an Opinion.
Now, WinBeta audience, I know whom I am talking to – you people are smart. You know the difference between Windows 10, Windows 10, and… Windows 10. You understand what the smartphone variation and what the PC variety offer. Now think about your relatives, maybe grandma, and ask, “will she be able to tell the difference?”
I understand Microsoft’s grand vision; what they are trying to accomplish with their new naming convention. Simplification is great to see, and we have been asking for it, but maybe Microsoft has gone a bit too far or not far enough with the name. I may be completely wrong, but my experience working in retail says otherwise.