Why did Microsoft choose the name "Longhorn" for its upcoming updated version of Windows?
First of all, what does Longhorn mean? It means Texas Longhorn, because there is no other kind of Longhorn. It is one of the three official state animals of Texas (armadillo and flying bat are the others) and surely a symbol of pride for Texas, and in a larger sense a symbol of Americana.
When the EU fined Microsoft $600 million for their latest illegal business practices, it was because of "Longhorn." Metaphorically, the EU was angry about an inspiring symbol of Americana, a Texas steer, rather than about the Windows monopoly, which is increasingly a national embarrasment.
The gimmick seems to have paid off, since many people, including members of congress, took the odd position of rallying around Microsoft. But also, many people don't want to see an int'l trade war start.
The relationship between Microsoft and John Ashcroft is well known--as long as Ashcroft is AG, Microsoft stays one company. But is the naming of Longhorn an enthusiastic nod to our nation's Executive Manager? Possibly.
Another more probable possibility--the naming of Longhorn is an enthusiastic nod to Houston's favorite son and Bill Gates co-conspirator Michael Dell. Its very important for Microsoft to cozy up to Dell right now, to keep Dell Inc. away from Linux. One of the main features of Longhorn will be its incompatibility with anthing non-Microsoft, and even with earlier versions of Windows. I've read that MS security and proprietary regulations are being built into the hardware, not just the OS.
Mind boggling stuff--but other computer makers like IBM and HP are leaning more and more towards Linux, which means Microsoft really needs Dell (and Intel) to be its good friends.
Well, it turns out that Michael Dell is, in fact, a "Longhorn." Having briefly attended the University of Texas at Austin, where the school mascot is the Longhorn, Dell was a Longhorn. Surely whenever he hears the name Longhorn his mind is filled with dreamy nostalgia for the good old college days. And just at that moment Bill Gates calls.
Another famous person who tried to become a Longhorn is our own Manager in Chief, George Bush. Funny story actually:
After prep school, Bush went to Yale for four years. He got in even though his SAT scores were well below average for Yale students. He "earned" a BA in history and then went into the Air National Guard. Before his term ended, he tried to get into the U of T Austin Law School. He was rejected. But Harvard Business School saw something in the young underachiever that U of T didn't ($$$$$) and he was accepted there. So he might have been a Longhorn.
But Jenna Bush is (or was) a Longhorn. So in the Bush family, Longhorn is not just a symbol of state pride, but of family pride since young Jenna is a Longhorn, and young Bush might have been. When they hear the name Longhorn, all they hear is good things.
Pretty smart move for Microsoft, and quite a break from tradition. Maybe they'll finally change the company name to "American Software Company."