Microsoft isn't renowned for picking product names that roll easily off the tongue. In fact, the company's disasterous naming ability has even been parodied in a video, which claimed that if Microsoft has invented Apple's iPod, it would have been called the Microsoft I-pod Pro 2005 Human Ear Professional Edition.

Some Microsoft names sound clunky; some are confusing; some are undignified or overambitious. More than any other company in technology, Microsoft loves to change product names - often replacing one lacklustre label with an equally uninspired one. Microsoft has also been known to mess up some names that are actually perfectly good, such as Windows and Word, by needlessly tampering with them.

Herewith, in chronological order, are ten Microsoft names that could have been a lot better, together with some semi-constructive advice on monikers that would have more euphonious and/or more accurate.

1993: Word 6.0 for Windows

When Microsoft upgraded 1991's popular Word 2.0 for Windows, it replaced it, not something logical like Word 3.0. Rather, it blithely hopscotched over three version numbers and landed at Word 6.0. The official explanation was that it brought the Windows edition's version number into line with that of the older DOS incarnation of Word. But conspiracy theorists noted that it also allowed Word to catch up with archrival WordPerfect, which also released a version 6.0 in 1993.

Whatever the rationale, the move rendered the practical purpose of version numbers meaningless, thereby setting a bad example for other companies such as Netscape, which later went straight from Netscape Navigator 4.0 to version 6.0.

What it should have been called: Word 3.0 for Windows. Simple and accurate.

1995: Microsoft Bob

Microsoft Bob is both cutesy-cute and uninformative - it doesn't give you an inkling as to what the product is all about. (The box featured a smiley face wearing Bill Gates-esque nerdy glasses, but the main character in the interface was a dog named Rover, who was later revived for Windows XP's misbegotten search feature.)

What it should have been called: Well, Microsoft Rover would have been at least slightly more descriptive - especially since the product itself was such a dog.

NEXT PAGE: Handheld PCs and .NET

  1. Quite possibly the worst monikers ever
  2. Handheld PCs and .NET
  3. HailStorm and Windows Genuine Advantage
  4. 2007 Microsoft Office System and Windows Live Essentials
  5. Six runners up that boast almost as unfortunate names