Transferring the goodness of the NT brand to Win2K

In my December 1998 editorial, "Is NT Windows?" I wrote about Microsoft's decision to change the name of Windows NT to Windows 2000 (Win2K). In brief, NT Workstation becomes Win2K Professional (Win2K Pro), NT Server becomes Win2K Server, and NT Server, Enterprise Edition becomes Win2K Advanced Server (Win2K AS).

I wish Microsoft had left the product name unchanged. NT has incredible momentum and brand value among IS professionals. Microsoft risks losing this business value. The consumer market has no real knowledge of NT, and consumers will likely assume that Win2K is simply a follow-on to Windows 98. Boy, are they in for a surprise.

No Big Deal?
One of Windows NT Magazine's sister publications, NEWS/400 (the leading publication for IBM's AS/400 market), has taken similar name changes in stride. As IBM changed the name of its midrange systems from System/34 to System/36 to System/38 to AS/400, NEWS/400 changed names too. The readers and the advertisers took the name changes in stride and moved along each time the name of the magazine changed.

Windows NT Magazine's Options
So what are Windows NT Magazine's options? First, we can stay Windows NT Magazine. The upside of keeping this name is that we don't have to do anything. The downside of keeping the same name is the risk that new readers will consider our magazine obsolete because it's not about Win2K. We considered adopting a name such as Windows Professional Magazine. However, we thought that name would confuse readers into thinking that the magazine covered only workstation topics, instead of both workstation and server topics as the magazine does today.

After many debates, we decided to change the name of the magazine to Windows 2000 Magazine. We think this new name will provide the easiest transition to the new product name for readers, and in the short term, provide the least amount of confusion about what platform the magazine's content will cover.

We also realize that in a few years, Microsoft might change the product name to Windows 2003, for example. Do we keep changing the magazine's name, or do we come up with a title that can remain constant over time? We'll see. The bottom line is that we'll do everything we can to help transfer the goodness of the NT brand to Win2K. Even if Microsoft messes with the Win2K brand and adds home users to the mix, the magazine will remain true to its roots of helping computer professionals get their jobs done.

Strategy for Change
As of press time, here are our plans regarding the magazine's name change. For the sake of argument, let's assume that Microsoft launches Win2K in October 1999.

Throughout the fall, we plan to publish several "Getting Ready for Win2K" supplements that will highlight workstations, servers, and software. These supplements will be strategic planning guides that let you know what you'll need to migrate to the Win2K platform.

The November issue of the magazine will be the first issue to carry the Windows 2000 Magazine name. In this issue, we plan to focus 80 percent of the editorial content on NT 4.0 topics and 20 percent of the editorial content on Win2K topics. In November, we'll also deliver the Winter issue of Windows 2000 Magazine, with the editorial content devoted to Win2K topics.

In the December issue, the editorial mix will return to 80 percent NT 4.0 material and 20 percent Win2K material. We'll increase the magazine's coverage of Win2K as you tell us to do so.

Best Resource for NT and Win2K
Why am I telling you these behind-the-scenes plans for the magazine? I want to include you, the magazine's readers, in our transition process. The last thing I want to do is add to the confusion around the NT name change. If you have any comments about the magazine's name change or the timing of the name change, please let me know. Above all, we want to provide you with the best resource available for NT and Win2K.