Microsoft by any other name

What should we call the two halves of a divided software giant?

By the Salon Technology staff

Published June 12, 2000 7:14PM (EDT)

Billco and Ballco? Micro and Soft? Now that Judge Jackson has decreed that Microsoft should be split asunder, we're sure the folks in Redmond must be wondering not just about whether they'll win on appeal, but what they'll call themselves if they have to divide in two.

According to the New York Times, the halves are being casually referred to as Ops Co. and Apps Co. -- for operating system, and applications -- but we're sure the Microsoftians will do better than that. Already, those in the corporate naming community -- companies like Lexicon, Landor and NameLab, which charge a king's fortune to assemble phonemes into names like "Lucent" and "Agilent" -- are buzzing about who will nab this job. We heard a rumor that this task was assigned last year (mid-trial, no less!) to a San Francisco naming company, but we've never heard the phone slammed down so fast as when we called to ask.

So, we turned to S.B. Master, president of Master-McNeil naming services to see if she could offer any advice. "There's an opportunity to create something really proprietary and memorable, that the intrinsic meaning of Microsoft doesn't do ... [the name] Microsoft is rather generic." Personally, she suggests naming the new company after something in Bill's past -- say, the name of his first pony or his favorite sailboat -- so that the employees feel some affinity to their new corporate name. Shades of Rosebud, anyone?

But why simply leave this task up to the professionals? Surely the man on the street can come up with something as appealing as "Agilent." Here are our own modest proposals for names for the two new firms:

Applets and Oplets
snAPS and pOPS
Billco (run by Gates) and Ballco (run by Ballmer)
Micromanage and Softball
Mr. Softie and Mrs. Doze
Windowless Office and Operating Company and
Apple and Corel

Together they could be the Redmond Electronic Autonomous Mini-monopolies or REAM.

If you've got a good idea, send it along to and we'll publish some more. Surely Microsoft won't thumb its nose at a little free assistance right now.

the Salon Technology staff

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