Calling whatever OS is current ‘Windows’ is not much of a plan

broken windows by Steve Snodgrass

Ballmer: ‘The Operating System Is Called Windows’
[Via Daring Fireball]

Ballmer tells analysts that Microsoft’s answer to the iPad is Windows 7 running on tablets (or, in his parlance, slates). On its face, if he means this in the obvious way, their efforts are doomed. The iPad would not be a phenomenon if it ran Mac OS X — and Mac OS X is better-suited than Windows for this sort of thing.

Keep in mind, though, that Microsoft is willing to call anything “Windows” if it’s a computer OS. Exhibit A: Windows Phone 7, which, as I’ve pointed out before, offers a UI that doesn’t even involve lowercase-w windows.

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Windows branding could be broken. As noted, isn’t the branding way off if you call it Windows but there are no windows present? MS almost seems to name operating systems in a random fashion, just adding Windows to whatever flavor is currently popular.

Apple has substantially changed the name of its operating systems several times – System 7, Mac OSX, iOS – but MS has to maintain the Windows part no matter what.

An example of actually being unable to alter itself to meet changing market conditions? Apple renamed the operating systems to indicate huge underlying changes in the OS architecture, while maintaining substantial compatibility, while MS tries to coverup that there has been any change at all by coming up with all new names at the drop of the hat. Perhaps because there really has been little longterm planning? Or at least no coherent plan – Windows 3, Windows 95, Windows Me, Windows NT, Windows CE, Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Mobile 6, and Windows Phone 7 – seem like attempts to just add Windows to whatever operating system is around at the time, not an example of a path to the future.

Developing new OS with little coherent path but calling them all Windows does not seem as likely to attract developers as one OS whose path to every type of device is relatively seamless. especially an OS that could well be found on more mobile machines from Apple than those from any other company.