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If Windows 10 is the 'last version,' it needs names

Gregg Keizer | May 12, 2015
Microsoft should put names to editions of its evergreen OS.

That's how Apple does it.

Since 2001, then Apple introduced OS X, where "X," like Microsoft's nomenclature, represents "10," the Cupertino, Calif. company has not changed the title of its Mac operating system.

But it has given each self-designated edition a name, first of a large feline -- Cheetah in 2001, Tiger in 2005, finally Mountain Lion in 2012 -- then California place names starting in 2013 with Mavericks. (Apple's resident funnyman, Craig Federighi, who heads OS X and iOS development, joked that year, "We do not want to be the first software in history to be delayed due to a dwindling supply of cats" when explaining the jump to an in-state naming convention.)

Apple also appends a number to each edition, as in OS X 10.9, which was Mavericks, and 10.10, which is Yosemite. But users know the names more than they recognize the numbers.

Microsoft would be smart to follow Apple's example.

Keep the Windows 10 title as long as you like. Add a decimal point and a digit for the addicted, such as 10.1 and 10.2. But most importantly, slap on a nickname every once in a while, perhaps annually (as Apple does now) or every other year (as Apple once did) or even every three (a Microsoft tradition, sort of).

Although Microsoft could pick a large mammal for nickname sources, bears for instance -- Atlas, Cinnamon, Gobi, Grizzly, Kamchatka, Kodiak -- those lists are almost always too short to last, even if the extinct are allowed. And who wants a new OS that says "extinct" out of the box?

Fortunately, Washington State, home of Microsoft since 1979, has a plethora of excellent place names to pick from for Windows 10.

Microsoft could go the mountain and peaks route, naming editions Adams, Baker, Olympus (bonus, close to a beer), Rainier (double bonus, really a beer), Redoubt and Sahale. Naturally, some names would be better than others, with a few of the latter definitely out of bounds, like St. Helens (the OS that explodes) or Desolation (the really barren, depressing OS).

Washington's cities and towns would also be a great category to mine for catchy Windows 10 names.

Take Castle Rock, for instance, or Cheney, Kennewick or Kirkland, Palouse or Pasco, San Juan or Sprague, Walla Walla or Wenatchee. The state also has a host of place names that bespeak the Native Americans who lived and live there, from Issaquah and Snoqualmie to Omak and Spokane. And its rivers roll off the tongue as much as they roll to the Pacific: Chehalis, Columbia, Klickitat and Willapa.

Again, not every site would work for Microsoft. Hanford, say, once the Manhattan Project's plutonium extraction facility and now a nuclear waste dump, would only bring hoots of "This OS is radioactive!" The Scablands, the Eastern Washington remnants of a flood channel from an immense prehistoric lake, would violate the product naming rule "Never use scab. Or fester for that matter." And Tacoma? That's a truck from Toyota.

But Windows 10 Columbia? Who wouldn't be proud to run that?


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