I received a mail this weekend responding to my Friday post on Super Tooltips asking a simple question: "It seems like you introduce every new feature in Office 12 with a code name.  Why not use the 'real' name?"

The short answer is: "Because we don't have 'real' names yet."

Where do code names come from?  They kind of just get invented.  We make them up.  As I explained a few months ago in my post about why we call it the "Ribbon", code names for features often pop up organically as part of designing the feature.  In some cases, code-names are dropped soon after the "official" name is available.  For instance, OneNote was code-named "Scribbler", but I haven't heard that used in a few years now.  In another case, the original code name for the OfficeArt drawing engine back in Office 97 was "Escher."  It has stuck around long enough that objects derived from the new graphics engine in Office 12 are called "E2Os" (or "Escher 2 Objects")

The normal process is that code names exist through most of the development cycle.  Marketing and legal work together (with input from the product team) to generate "official" names for features which are then rolled up into the product and used to talk about it.  In Office, this generally happens between the end of coding and Beta 2.  (In other words, now.)


Code names for features are just temporary

Back to the original question.  Why are you seeing so many code names exposed in Office 12?  Just because we're out here blogging about the product in detail way sooner than ever before.  In past releases, most of the features would be under wraps until later in the product cycle.  By the time marketing started talking about the product, all of the official names for features were ready.

A more open discussion about the product means that more of our internal processes are exposed.  I really believe that this openness benefits our customers, but it does mean that you have to put up with more code names.

As "official" marketing names are available, I'll certainly start using them and let you know how they relate to the code names I've been writing about.

And remember, Office "12" itself is a code name...