Yesterday, Microsoft announced the new name for its cloud storage service, having been forced to drop SkyDrive for OneDrive. Just a few hours later, word filtered out that another new change is in the works, a rename from Office Web Apps to Office Online. Now, Microsoft has never been known for its branding prowess, and we’ve seen them go from MSN Search to Live Search to Windows Live Search to Bing, and from Outlook Express to Windows Live Mail to Windows Mail (with some Hotmail and Outlook.com and Outlook Web Access thrown in for good measure..).
There really wasn’t any excuse for Microsoft to have not nailed down the rights to SkyDrive, they botched it, pure and simple. Did they learn their lesson? A number of Microsoft watchers broke out their search boxes yesterday and found a number of other OneDrives. An Australian site, Techgeek.com.au, has a nice recap of the various other users of OneDrive (via ZDNet) We also poked around the US Patent and Trademark Office’s TESS trademark search tool, and weren’t able to find any trademark for Microsoft and OneDrive (KLD does have a trademark for their scooter parts).
Microsoft had no official response when we asked about their diligence in checking on the names, but we can’t imagine that they’ve jumped out of the fire and into the frying pan (or can we?). As Huang notes in his post, at least one of the other users of the OneDrive name seems to have veered quickly away from it. From Techgeek.com.au:
And finally, here’s something very interesting. There WAS a cloud storage service called OneDrive in Brazil. This service was provided by Locaweb, a local web hosting company. However, it suddenly changed its name to GoDrive. And we know the change was recent because the service was still called OneDrive on January 23 this year, thanks to the Internet Archive.
Branding has long been an issue at Microsoft, so much so that Woody Leonhard at ComputerWorld made it priority number one in his open letter to the new CEO of Microsoft:
Microsoft action item No. 1: Fix the branding
Microsoft’s branding runs all over the map, and it’s been abysmal for decades. Where else can you buy a version of Windows that doesn’t run Windows programs?
Please give us names that make sense, so we can make sense of what you are doing and how best to make use of your services. Once you’ve chosen a name, stick to it.
And at least give us an alternative to “Metro.” You’ve been dancing around the “Modern UI,” er, “New User Interface,” uh, “Windows Store Apps”/”Microsoft Design Language” bafflegab for more than a year. Kill it, definitively, and move on.
Yes, even if you choose “Mod.” Ugh. (liveside note: “Mod”, explained)
And we’ve seen Microsoft acknowledge and “fix” branding before, most recently with the move from Hotmail to Outlook.com, which has left us with, as we said before, Outlook and Outlook.com and Outlook Online and Outlook Web Access and Windows Mail (in Windows 8) and Windows Mail (in Windows 7, a different product altogether) and Windows Live Mail, and for those millions who are still on XP, Outlook Express.
But, as always, we’re hopeful. As much as Microsoft made a mess of the perfectly good SkyDrive brand (and we can’t believe anything but this was entirely their fault), we like OneDrive. We like Office Online, too, as we were never fans of Office Web Apps, and we’re even hopeful that some kind of consolidation of the myriad mail products might even be in the works.
What do you think, do you like “OneDrive”? Will Microsoft ever be able to get out of its own way and figure out branding? What about Office Online, a step in the right direction, or more rearranging of the deck chairs?