When the Internet Explorer folks announced that they were going to call their next version of Internet Explorer Internet Explorer 7 for Windows XP and Internet Explorer 7 in Windows Vista, many people responded to the awkward name by suggesting that it be shortened to Internet Explorer 7 XP and Internet Explorer 7 Vista. Why the longer names?
Microsoft's own trademark guidelines† specify that the product names are Windows XP and Windows Vista and not just XP and Vista. The trademark is on the entire phrase, not just the last word. Furthermore, the trademark guidelines specify that products may not append just XP or Vista to their names; they have to say X for Windows XP or X for Windows Vista.
In an earlier era, you had to be careful to say Windows NT and not just NT for the same reason. You see, the name NT is a registered trademark of Northern Telecom, and part of the agreement with "the other NT" is that the Windows product would always be used with the word Windows in front.
If you took a close look at the Windows 2000 box, you may have seen the phrase "Built on NT Technology." I don't know how hard it was to do, but I suspect a good amount of negotiations with Northern Telecom took place to allow Microsoft to use that alternate formulation without the word Windows in front. Indeed, if you looked really closely at the box, you'd have found a trademark acknowledgement for Northern Telecom deep in the fine print.
Lawyers by training are very cautious people. After all, a new lawsuit against Microsoft gets filed approximately once every thirty seconds.¶ They're probably also responsible for all your Office# shortcuts on the Start menu being named Microsoft Office This 2007 and Microsoft Office That 2007 instead of This 2007 and That 2007, or even (shocking!) just This and That. It's a daring move, and lawyers don't like to be daring. Nobody ever got sued for playing it safe.††
Nitpicker's corner (guest appearance)
*Just burning off a footnote marker because I don't like asterisks.
†I myself violate some of these guidelines because I try to write like a human being and not a robot. Only robots say Windows-based programs.‡
‡That statement is not literally true. Here's a reformulation of that statement for the benefit of robots:§ "People who say Windows-based programs sound like robots."
§That statement is also not literally true. Here's a reformulation of that statement for the benefit of people who take a robotic approach to reading: "Here's a reformulation of that statement for the benefit of people who take a robotic approach to reading:"
||Burning off another footnote marker because I don't like parallel lines either.
¶An exaggeration, not a statement of fact.
#s/Office/Microsoft® Office™ System/**
**I have not researched whether that's the correct way of writing it.
††Okay, maybe somebody somewhere has gotten sued for playing it safe. It was just a catchy sentence, not a statement of fact.