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Windows 10: Missed Opportunities in Branding?

By July 29, 2015 Industry Topics

For those not in the know: Windows 10 released worldwide today.

It’s generally been received as a positive improvement over Windows 8, but what’s most notable is that MSFT is essentially giving away the latest update away for free.

You can read dozens of articles about what’s new, reviews (they seem positive), etc. — This isn’t a “What You Need To Know” article, but rather this latest release reveals some interesting nuggets on their branding decisions.

1) Wait, what happened to Windows 9?

Probably the first thing you’re wondering is “why did they skip Windows 9?” Well, it’s actually a really interesting question with many theories ranging from, “it was a rebranding marketing strategy,” to “Windows 9 refers to windows 95 from a coding standpoint — things will break” (MSFT’s official answer).

The theory I love the most is that 9 is an unlucky number in Japan, and they made the decision to skip the version to perform better internationally.

2) Internet Explorer gets a new name. Microsoft Edge. *crickets*

This was one of the biggest missed opportunities ever in my opinion. Internet Explorer is a brand name so toxic, and a browser held in such low regard. Microsoft had a really great opportunity to turn a new leaf here, by making a bold move in changing the name (and they were close to doing just that).

Early development builds to the new IE were called “Project Spartan.” Rumors flew around that this may be a dramatic rebranding of the decades-old browser. Ultimately, they pulled a typical Microsoft move and went with a safe, uninspired, confusing name change that’s synonymous with “slow mobile internet speed.” *yawn*

In my opinion,  Microsoft  should have been more brave in this potential rebranding opportunity — they could have chosen to dramatically depart from the “Internet Explorer” brand name with a browser called “Spartan.” It would have at least made it an interesting conversation point about “what’s different? what’s new?” It was an opportunity to highlight that “this is now lightweight, and rebuilt browser.” My understanding is that many of these things are actually true and that “Microsoft Edge” is actually a pretty good browser.  Instead, the consumer understanding of one of the most prolific browsers on the web likely remains “oh that thing I use to download Chrome/Firefox,” or “mom, seriously — why are you using Internet Explorer — erm sorry, Microsoft Edge?” A big missed opportunity in my opinion.

3) A Positive: MSFT has a better LinkedIn Strategy than you.

On the subject of Microsoft and branding — they definately do something right. I typically point to Microsoft when discussing who does LinkedIn content right. It’s their core social content platform, and they’re often referenced as a leader in LinkedIn content strategy.

With so many different audiences (developers, accountants, business professionals, consumers) across international markets — they really seem to step up to the challenge and utilize LinkedIn to the max to cater to all these professional audiences. Some fun recent examples include:

Microsoft LinkedIn  Screen Shot 2015-07-29 at 2.35.09 PM

With the official release of Windows 10 — It’s interesting to see how they deploy the lead-up & announcement across all their various sub-LinkedIn accounts. Logistically, at least it’s interesting to appreciate.  Poke around their main profile for a glimpse of how they approach diverse content streams across all their different sub-brands and languages.