If there’s one thing Microsoft is consistent in, its failure in nomenclature. It just announced that its new web browser, Project Spartan will officially be named Edge. It’s not bad, but it doesn’t seem good enough. Gerard Butler can forget about having a stylized Leonidas face as the browser’s icon. The browser’s icon is even worse. It has an uncanny resemblance to that familiar ‘e’ icon of Internet Explorer which gives everyone the impression that Edge is not really a complete departure from Internet Explorer. For anyone who’s not privy to the code involved, it might as well be a recycled core and not a project from scratch as Microsoft says.
We’re not saying that the browser itself was bad. Early evaluations point to it as being legitimately different. The browser performed well enough and pushed through on its promises. But branding and marketing just doesn’t seem to be Microsoft’s strong suit lately. Projects such as the Kin and Zune failed because they weren’t as catchy as Galaxy, iPhone or iPod. Forget the name, also consider the marketing. Both brands had fine devices though. How about Windows NT? What does NT mean to everyone else but the server pushers? It’s pretty ambiguous to the executives who were supposed to approve its purchase. Thankfully, its reliability and features speaks for itself. What about Windows 8 RT? Sad to say, its target market wouldn’t know what to make of the word Runtime unless they’re familiar with coding. To those who are, it still doesn’t make much sense. Windows 8 Lite, Windows 8 Modern or Windows 8 Tablet Edition would have made much more sense and totally differentiated this ARM-based operating system with its hybrid sister product.
Everyone was hoping Edge’s project name, Spartan, would later become official because not only does it suggest power and simplicity, it sounds cool enough to browse 300 websites with and take on that other empire. It’s not like there’s a trademark problem. Microsoft’s reason for choosing a name that starts with the letter e is to absurdly keep that iconic ‘e’ browser icon. When users click on the e icon on Windows, they know they’re opening up a browser and not some obscure app. It is quite a problem for icon-focused users such as those on Android when looking for the default browser which is somewhat nondescript. Many non-Apple oriented iPhone users don’t know that Safari was the phone’s browser.
According to Microsoft, familiarity is key. But then again, it’s marketing laziness. Users could easily get familiar with other icons with proper marketing and dissemination of information. A couple of commercials on Superbowl ought to do it. But they’d rather stick to that familiar ‘e’ icon which few choose unless the company tells you to. Users would use Firefox or Chrome if they were installed on the computer. Familiarity with the ‘e’ icon is a good point but Internet Explorer’s unsecure bloated reputation isn’t exactly good.
Windows 10 is still a few months away. Still time for Microsoft to change its mind, make up some excuse and ditch or revise the Edge’s icon. The reality of things is, no matter how good a person or a product is, if some bad reputation precedes it, few would touch it. Edge is still haunted by the ghost of Internet Explorer. Edge is Morley in chains and Microsoft is Scrooge refusing to let go. Microsoft needs to take a page from Disney, not from Dickens or Edge could be doomed to failure.