Now that Microsoft has officially rolled out a product named Microsoft Business Solutions Small Business Financials 8.0 North American Edition, it's time to reflect on what makes a great product name.

This, obviously, isn't one of them. The product is more usually going to be called Microsoft Small Business Financials and probably SBF. (The fact that it is a retread of the very unsuccessful product called Small Business Manager and that it came out in Version 8.0 takes too much time to explain here.)

Anything with the Microsoft name has some advantages. But for the company that gave us Windows, Office, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Money, and Access, it's obvious MBSSBFNA isn't in the same league.

Great names are memorable, which usually means short and simple, and they usually convey a visual image or at least an easy-to-grasp concept. The great names in the accounting market are Great Plains, Solomon, Peachtree, and QuickBooks. You can visualize the plains, King Solomon, a peach, and a book.

We went through the naming process a few years ago when the reselling company then named TexSys RD renamed itself ePartners during the rush of the dot-com boom.

The argument about TexSys at the time was that prospects in the rest of the country questioned why a company from Texas was trying to sell them accounting software. It's hard to see that the association hurt Texaco or Texas Instruments, and TexSys conveyed the image of the state of Texas and the concept of a computer system. It was memorable.

And another rule here is don't pick a name that may become quickly dated, like anything starting with e. The term "How 90s" comes up a lot in this respect.

Great names aren't everything, obviously. Apple was a far more memorable named than the IBM PC. Names also get appeal from the strength of the company behind them. Conversely, a good name didn't bring success to Microsoft and Great Plains with Profit.

Still, for a product that is supposed to be an entry point for the Great Plains line, couldn't Microsoft have done better with SBF? Something like, Great Plains Basic? Just a modest suggestion.

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