Microsoft Corp. on Thursday moved to further clarify the naming and branding strategy around its .Net, or software-as-a-service, strategy.
The Redmond, Wash., software firm told staff and partners this week that its goal with the move is to help customers easily identify those products that interoperate and connect via Web service standards, while making it simpler for its partners to link to the strategy.
In line with this, Microsoft has decided that a more consistent product naming and branding approach is necessary and has started the ball rolling with the upcoming Windows server family, which will be officially released at an event in San Francisco on April 24.
The server started out under the code-name Whistler, before Microsoft announced it would officially be known as Windows 2002 Server. A few months later Microsoft said the product would officially be known as Windows .Net Server.
As the products release kept being extended from the original December 2001 launch date—mainly due to implementation of the companys Trustworthy Computing initiative, which required all code to be scrutinized for bugs and all engineers to be trained in writing secure code—the product was renamed Windows .Net Server 2003 last August.
The latest name change underscores the problems Microsoft is having explaining the concept of .Net to customers. "No one has yet been able to properly explain what .Net actually is and give me an example of what Web Services really are. I just dont understand why I should be jumping for joy about .Net in the enterprise," an MIS for a large metals company in Pittsburgh, told eWEEK.
A source within Microsoft admitted to eWEEK that the team had reluctantly agreed to change the product by removing .Net in the server name. "We had all the right intentions to communicate what was in the product, but it risked looking like it was everything to everybody," the source said.
But Bob OBrien, a group product manager in the Windows Server Division, told eWEEK on Thursday that Microsoft had decided to drive an overall effort to clarify the naming and branding strategy around .Net.
"Realistically the support for Web services is becoming ubiquitous across our entire product line, so the .Net team felt that moving toward a consistent naming and branding strategy would better enable partners to affiliate with it and would also allow customers to easily identify .Net enabled products," he said.
"The result of implementing this means the next version of Windows Server will be renamed Windows Server 2003. It certainly simplifies the products naming and, at the same time, reconciles it with the branding strategy for .Net. It is the right thing to do and, to be clear, the move has no effect on the server ship schedule," he said.
In addition, those Microsoft products and services that support standards-based interoperability will ship with the new ".Net Connected" logo, which indicates that products ability to easily and consistently connect disparate information, systems and devices to meet the needs of individuals and organizations, he said. Windows Server 2003 will be the first product to have this logo.
Microsoft will also create a .Net Connected Directory to provide a central location where customers can find, and partners can showcase, software and services qualified for the .Net Connected Logo Program.
In another, unrelated move, Bill Gates, Microsofts chairman and chief software architect, used his keynote address at the 2003 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas on Wednesday to report that more than 89 million Windows XP licenses have been sold on new PCs and through retail upgrades and full packaged product since the October 2001 launch. This, Gates said, made it the fastest-selling operating system in history.
(Editors Note: This story has been updated since its original posting to include comments from Microsoft.)