What is in a name? A lot!

So the codename “WPF/E” has gone the way of Elvis (no, it’s not working at a 7-11 in Florida).  Now WPF/E is called Silverlight

Silverlight?!  What the Hell? What a stupid name.  ‘Silverlight’ sounds like the name of a surfboard company!

There’s something amiss when a codename is much, much better than the “real” name given to a technology.  At least ‘Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere’ conveyed meaning!  ‘Silverlight’ conveys squat.  

Come on, Microsoft!  What’s up with this naming madness recently?  Put away the bong.  First you rename “WinFx” to the completely misleading “.NET 3.0” (biggest mistake of’em all)…then you insist that the first version of WPF be “v3” since it was released with .NET 3.0…now you call WPF/E “Silverlight”?  This is almost embarrasing for your developer communities.


21 Responses to What is in a name? A lot!

  1. Jack Schneider says:

    I like it!

    At least it shows Microsoft is finally waking up and moving away from boring names with 28 syllables, designed by committees in grey suits. At least one of them now has a pink shirt and even owned a skateboard when they were 12!

    Yes its not as good as ‘Flash’ as its essentially a made up word, so people do not automatically associate it with a meaning/thing/emotion/experience. But they soon might…

    It’s very ‘fresh’ sounding certainly. (And of course better than WPF/EEEE!)

    Keep it up MS. No more Visual-Studio-2010-.Net-Release-Two-Point-Owe-Featuring Intellisense-Technology-Interactive-Designer-Plus-Plus.

    Stick to “Sparkle”s!!

  2. Adam Porter says:

    I agree with Jack. I much prefer Silverlight over WPF/E. The only problem is, now I’m jealous because we (read: non-web developers) are still stuck with boring, vanilla “WPF” for a name. I want a ‘Sparkly’ name to refer to, not a lame coder-geek acronym…as if I needed yet another acronym to prove how boring my j-o-b sounds to others.

    Indeed….keep it up MS!

  3. Josh Smith says:

    Jack and Adam,

    I respect your opinions, but totally disagree (obviously). In my opinion, product names should be meaningful, and codenames can be fluffy. Not the other way around.

    Naming a technology “Silverlight” makes it seem like it is something which little kids play with after school, not something that serious, highly paid, mature, intelligent software developers use to create solutions for a business.


  4. sfedorov says:

    Yes, the name sounds really artificial. We’ve been discussing SL internally in the company and I’ve caught myself keeping calling it Silverstone. Guess Silverlight is hard to remember.

    Still in my opinion the biggest loss was renaming Avalon and Indigo into stupid acronyms. In-di-go – that sounded like music…

  5. Josh Smith says:


    I disagree about the renaming of Avalon. It was not renamed to an acronym. It was renamed to ‘Windows Presentation Foundation’, which conveys meaning. That name is then condensed into WPF, which is, granted, meaningless as such.

    It seems like Silverlight should have been the codename, and Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere should have been the release name. But, that’s not the case, so I guess I’ll have to just shut up and deal with it! 😀


  6. sfedorov says:

    Name WPF/E was totally misleading. The technology was not
    a) Windows – otherwise how could it be Everywhere? 🙂
    b) Presentation – because it does not present data: there are no explicit data bindings and there is no notion of data object. If MSFT believes that it has presentational capabilities, then good old HTML should be renamed to HTPL.
    c) Foundation – because, well, there is no framework, no objects, no something one could extend. It’s not a base for something new.
    d) … exactly Everywhere : Unix machines aren’t invited to the party.

    Essentially WPF and WPF/E are not even relatives. Only thing they have in common is small subset of tags that look similarly – but have different semantic since they belong to different namespaces.
    Reminds me of Javascript being named after hot new technology from Sun. Both langauges have common subset of keywords – just like WPF/E and WPF.

    I’m glad MSFT renamed it. Too bad their copywriters have such poor taste.

  7. Josh Smith says:


    Good points!

    I was not aware of (b). I am not up to speed with Silverlight, and am very surprised to find out that the binding model is so different from WPF’s. 😦

    Thanks for the feedback,

  8. Alex says:

    Good news for Adam:

    Windows Presentation Foundation is now being called Goldshadow !

    Coincidentally Silverlight and Goldshadow are the names of my little sister’s horses :).

  9. Josh Smith says:


    I thought they changed WPF to PlatinumXray?!


  10. sfedorov says:

    My pleasure.

    My impression(perhaps incorrect) is that closest thing to SL would be SVG.
    Still SL is very very cool. Unlike Flash it really targets, SL’s _content_ could be generated on server and manipulated on client – and that’s a big thing. Opens huge possibilities for developers. Also SL is really fast.

    Regarding data: it still can be presented – but only mechanically. Essentially you can do whatever JavaScript over DOM allows you to do.


  11. Josh Smith says:


    Interesting. I don’t know much about Silverlight yet, so it’s good to know that the technology (despite it’s name) is exciting and looks promising. Sometime soon I intend on getting into SL, but first I need to find a way to extend the duration of a day to 28 hours. 😉


  12. Judah says:

    I concur with Jack and Adam. Silverlight is much better, even cooler, than WPF/E. How many non-MS devs know what WPF stands for, let alone WPF/E?

    Even if one knew the acronyms, as federov mentioned, Windows Presentation Foundation Everywhere was misleading.

    I remember lots of people complaining when Avalon became WPF, when Indigo became WCF, when WinFX became .NET 3. I think it’s hypocritical to dislike Silverlight when we loved Avalon and Indigo. If anything, MS is responding to the naming feedback from Avalon, Indigo, and WinFX, probably testing the waters for shorter catchy names.

  13. Judah says:

    p.s. look at Flash. Does that describe what it does? Hardly.

    Flash, Mono, Cocoa, DirectX, I could go on…plenty of great technologies out there whose names don’t reflect what they do.

  14. Josh Smith says:


    Just because other technologies have “flashy” names does not make it ok! 😀 Just kidding. At the end of the day, who cares what they call it. Given the increasing rate of churn in software world, Silverlight will be replaced by something new any day now.


  15. Nick says:

    …boys… we cant always complain…
    i was totally disappointed when Avalon was renamed…i still call it Avalon…i guess many others are tempted to do that to…
    Now that they finnally have understood that they cant sell so much in the designworld with a name like WPF … well even for developers it doesnt sound as if it is a fun thing to programm and something that your girlfriend can remember eighter… i would have liked to call myself an Avalon Developer… 🙂

  16. John V says:

    Humorous, but Josh makes some good points. Someone in Microsoft marketing has run amok. True, “brand” names are a huge factor in marketing a product, but the target market needs to be considered. “Fluffy” names may work well with shrink wrapped software my mom buys, but tend to be the butt of jokes in the cubicle. Also developers (and IT in general) are very skeptical when companies play fast and loose with version numbers.

  17. Guy says:

    First, i’d like to say that I love this discssion.
    Second, I agree with Nick:
    This technology is for the world of designers or people who program flash.
    Most of these people works on: Flash, Dreamweaver etc’, it is hard to sell a technology to these people (with a passion for design) a technology in the name of WPF/EEE.

  18. Guy says:

    i forgot to say that the web site for this technology
    says i all.
    compare it to the WPF website

  19. Josh Smith says:


    Yeah, I agree with you somewhat. The target audience, so to speak, for Silverlight is probably very different from the folks who will use WPF. That’s true…and the MSFT marketing team recognized it. In that respect, I suppose I shouldn’t care too much because I have yet to even play around with Silverlight.


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