Channel Marker

May 6 2008   12:01PM GMT

Microsoft’s branding ’sucks,’ partner says

Bcournoyer Brendan Cournoyer Profile: Bcournoyer

Here on Channel Marker, we love taking vendors to task for their mumbo-jumbo technobabble. You know, announcements like, “This new suite of solutions will provide a platform for customers to leverage their CRM, ERP, SOA and BPM in the cloud, exponentially increasing their workflow and productivity.”

We do it for fun, mostly. But when a vendor’s product names become confusing to partners, it can create serious problems with customers. One Microsoft partner who forsees such issues is Dave Sobel, CEO of Evolve Technologies, who wrote on his blog today that “Microsoft sucks at branding.” Here’s his description of what happened during a Microsoft training session today:

I’m spending my day with Microsoft around their new products, Windows Small Business Server 2008 and Windows Essential Business Server 2008.   They are part of the “Windows Essential Business Solutions” family.   The presenter, who is quite good (and I’ve seen before), took the time to apologize for the potential confusion, and made a point to tell us to be clear with customers.

Those names are all way too similar, especially when you realize that “Windows Essential Business Server” and “Windows Essentials Business Solutions” have the same acronym: WEBS. And this is quite a tangled one indeed.

But wait, it gets worse. Before I wrote this blog, I wanted to do a little research on these products. So I typed “Windows Essential Business Solutions” into Google, and here’s what I got:

Windows Essential Business Solutions

That left me just as confused as Sobel. I poked around the Internets a little further, and I eventually found out that the product line is actually called Windows Essential Server Solutions.

I also discovered that Windows Essential Business Server is comprised of several different technologies, including Microsoft System Center Essentials, and that it comes in two different editions, standard and premium. The only difference between the two editions is that premium comes with SQL Server 2008. But even though it’s the premium edition of Windows Essential Business Server, it only comes with the standard edition of SQL Server 2008.

Got it? Me either. Good luck explaining all that to a customer.

And that’s Sobel’s biggest issue: Microsoft gave confusing names to all these products and acknowledged they are confusing, but the company is leaving it up to partners to sort out said confusion for customers. He asks, “How come this becomes my problem?” It will be interesting to see what Microsoft’s answer is.

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  • Dave Sobel
    I love these products, I just hate their names. This is too confusing, and when you take great products and you give them bad names you just make a mess of things. Let's not muddle the waters with confusion when we already have enough going on.
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