A (Microsoft) code name a day: Crossbow

There are two different "Crossbow" projects at Microsoft. One has to do with Windows Mobile and the other with Windows development tools. I cover both projects in the fifth installment of my "Code Name a Day" report.

Even though more and more teams at Microsoft seem to be shying away from christening their fledgling products with good, old-fashioned code names – favoring the ever-so-boring “V.Next” designation instead -- there are still some who are doing so.

Microsoft code names always have piqued my interest. They offer some great clues about the Redmondians’ development priorities, not to mention a better understanding of which future Microsoft products fit together, from a strategy standpoint.

code name
of the day:

In honor of Microsoft code-name junkies everywhere, I’m going to feature one, random Microsoft code name per work day for the rest of this month. I’ll provide as much information as I’ve been able to unearth on each, and attempt to provide some context as to how the team chose the name and how the forthcoming technology fits into the Redmond product hierarchy.

Microsoft code name of the day: Crossbow

Best guess on what it is: Just to keep things interesting, there are actually two totally different "Crossbow" projects at Microsoft. One of the Crossbows is the next version of the Windows Mobile OS, commonly referred to by Microsoft watchers as "Windows Mobile 6.0." The other was a project designed to bridge Windows Forms (WinForms) and the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF, or "Avalon") Windows graphics subsystem.

Meaning/context of the code name: The Windows Mobile Crossbow code name, some have suggested, is possibly part of a Star Wars theme. Chewbaca's Crossbow, Photon torpedos, etc.... ("Photon," by the way, is the Windows Mobile successor to Crossbow.)

The development-tool team's use of Crossbow was part of the whole Avalon/Cider medieval-ages theme I explained yesterday. "'Avalon' means 'place of apples,' so I had an image in my head of Swiss legend William Tell shooting the apple off of his son's head using his crossbow (yes he used a crossbow and not a traditional bow and arrow) and thus Crossbow," Microsoft blogger (and former  Crossbow team member) RHender explained.

Back story: Windows Mobile Crossbow is expected to be finalized by the end of 2006 and to start finding its way into mobile devices by mid-2007. The development team's Crossbow is now part of WPF, one of the key components of the .Net Framework 3.0 bundle that Microsoft released last month.

Additional info: Reviewers of beta versions of Windows Mobile Crossbow have noted that this release of Microsoft's mobile platform is a fairly minor one. The Crossbow release will allow mobile-device users to take advantage of new functionality introduced in Windows Vista and Exchange Server 2007.

Anyone have any other details on Crossbow to share? Or have another Microsoft code name you’ve been wondering about? Send it my way and I’ll do my best to track down some leads on what it might be. And if you want to keep track of the full month's worth of Microsoft code names I end up posting, bookmark this "Microsoft Codenames" page.