Confusing Marketing: It's called 'Windows Phone' folks

Ever since I started working with Microsoft technologies back in the early 1990's, I quickly noticed that Redmond suffers from severe name-confusion issues. It's baffling how Microsoft Marketing often insists on using fully-descriptive-but-boring names for their products (e.g. Microsoft Internet Information Server) instead of cool names (e.g. Silverlight). And then they also change names on us all the time (e.g. "Windows Server Compute Cluster Edition" to "Windows HPC Server"). Microsoft's mobile world is no exception. Reading online and talking to people, you'll hear all sorts of mashed-up phone names, mainly because Microsoft executed a massive reboot of its mobility strategy back in 2010, cutting ties with the past, making sure that Windows Mobile 6.5 was the last version of that line. The Windows Phone product is plagued by bad naming conventions and Microsoft is confusing its customers.

So I'm here to tell you once and for all what it should be called:

Do NOT call it:

  • Windows Mobile Phone 7
  • Windows Mobile 7
  • Windows 7 Phone
  • Windows Phone 7 Series (that was retired fast in beta)
  • Windows 7 Mobile Phone
  • Phone 7 Mobile
  • Microsoft Phone 7
  • Windows CE 7

You get the gist... so let me tell you: It's called Windows Phone. Period.

So why not Windows Phone 7? Microsoft started with its announcements at Mobile World Congress 2010 by calling it "Windows Phone 7 Series". The fact that Windows Mobile was at 6.5 and now Windows Phone started at 7 created confusion given the complete lack of continuity and compatibility between the two mobile platforms. However, since Windows 7 was already turning out to be a big success on the desktop, the Microsofties wanted to capitalize on that win and the "7" brand.

Why they felt "Series" was needed, I have no idea, and that did not last long. A few months later they dropped it, and when the platform and phones lanched in October 2010, they were just called Windows Phone 7. Then the 7 itself became a problem because it reflected the Windows Phone OS v7.0 number, so what happens when that OS gets upgraded? The "Mango" version bumped the OS version number to 7.1, yet Microsoft decided to call the Mango devices themselves Windows Phone 7.5. That's right. Are you still with me? Let me recap:

Device running Mango (code name) = Windows Phone 7.5 = Windows Phone OS version 7.1

Totally makes sense, right? Not really, but when you've been working with Microsoft as long as I have, you're also not surprised. Apple avoided this issue by seprating the product names (iPhone & iPad) from the Mobile Operating System (iOS). Windows Phone is not that fortunate. The "Tango" release is OS version 7.6, and now we know that Windows Phone 8 (code-name "Apollo") or whatever Microsoft decides to call it, is on its way. All signs point to OS version 8.0 at this point, so at least we should have parity (hopefully) from now on. This is why calling it Windows Phone 7 no longer makes sense, and adding decimals to brand names is just plain bad. It's a Windows Phone folks. Period.

What about Twitter hashtags? If you want to include Windows Phone hashtags in Twitter conversations, the accepted convention is:

  • For generic posts about the phones or the platform, use #WindowsPhone (or #wp if you run out of space)
  • For development related posts, use #WPDev

There you have it. TL;DR: Just call it Windows Phone. Are you building apps for Windows Phone? Blogging about it? Which phone do you use? Drop me some links and comments here or on Twitter @ActiveNick. And in case you missed my announcement yesterday: I have a new job at Infragistics! You can read my introductory post here.

Comments  (4 )

Ambrose Little
on Fri, Feb 10 2012 2:21 PM

And the chief irony, of course, is that it has no windows.

Jason Beres
on Fri, Feb 10 2012 10:18 PM

Live Tiles == Windows into you Life

ActiveNick's Big Bald Blog
on Fri, Apr 20 2012 3:27 PM

A debate is raging in the technology world these days: Is there a need for a third mobile ecosystem?

ActiveNick's Big Bald Blog
on Tue, Jun 19 2012 1:40 PM

Microsoft just raised the bar in the tablet market. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for