I was having a conversation about Windows 8 with a cousin of mine and it’s funny – this issue has started popping up in discussions.

I’m talking about the name “Charms”.

Microsoft use the name to describe a series of icons that show up when you hover on the right side of the screen or over the start menu.

The “Charms” contain 4 different icons:

  • Search – Self Explanatory – Comprehensive search that goes throughout your system to find whatever file or application you’re looking for.
  • Share – Making Windows 8 more social – allows you to share things using applications that automatically post your material on social networks like Facebook or Twitter.
  • Devices – Allows you to externalize your screen content by either printing it, playing it on a particular screen, or sharing it with a device nearby.
  • Settings – Basically the options previously found in the Windows Control Panel.

So those are charms but that’s not the point of the article.

Who came up with that name and why?

Let’s take a look at the dictionary and see how charms are defined.

charm (chärm)
n.
1. The power or quality of pleasing or delighting; attractiveness: a breezy tropical setting of great charm.
2. A particular quality that attracts; a delightful characteristic: A mischievous grin was among the child’s many charms.
3. A small ornament, such as one worn on a bracelet.
4. An item worn for its supposed magical benefit, as in warding off evil; an amulet.
5. An action or formula thought to have magical power.
6. The chanting of a magic word or verse; incantation.
7. Physics A quantum property of the charm quark whose conservation explains the absence of certain strange-particle decay modes and that accounts for the longevity of the J particle.
v. charmed, charm·ing, charms
v.tr.
1. To attract or delight greatly: the simple elegance of the meal charmed the guests.
2. To induce by using strong personal attractiveness: charmed the guard into admitting them without invitations.
3. To cast or seem to cast a spell on; bewitch.
v.intr.
1. To be alluring or pleasing.
2. To function as an amulet or charm.
3. To use magic spells.

Now I swear I don’t mean to be an old man or a party pooper but my God, who let this name through?

I’m from West Africa where I can tell you that charms are more synonymous with evil and bad fortune than anything else. Even Irish lucky charms are synonymous with magic.

While a lot of people may not care or think those concerns are silly, I am looking at it from a Marketing and branding perspective.

Why the hell would anyone let that name go through if there was even a hint of negativity associated with that name?

Honestly, in light of the fact that a grouping of Windows functionality has nothing to do with the definitions of the word, it seems to me that maybe the developers were looking for a name for that feature and settled on charms temporarily.

Maybe they thought they would come back to it as some point in the future and just got lazy about it.

My 10 cents (like they care) is CHANGE IT.

It’s a strange name, it doesn’t accurately describe the functionality, it sounds childish, it is culturally insensitive and it’s just downright confusing.

This is technology. We expect names like “recycle bin” or “start menu” or “control panel”.

Which IT professional wants to tell another man or woman to open up their charms?

What do you guys and girls think?

About the Author

Onuora Amobi is the Founder and VP of Digital Marketing at Learn About The Web Inc. Onuora has more than a decade of information security, project management and management consulting experience. He has specialized in the management and deployment of large scale ERP client/server systems.

In addition to being a former Microsoft MVP and the founder and editor of EyeOnWindows.com, he is the CEO of a Pasadena based online marketing education startup - Learn About The Web Inc. (www.learnabouttheweb.com) and The Redmond Cloud (https://www.theredmondcloud.com).

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36 Comments
  1. Yeah dude..

    The name sounds stupid as all dog doodoo..

    They need to change it

  2. Thyagofreire2009 / January 28, 2012 at 4:51 pm /Reply

    Stupid name there are several more names to put this ugly thought.

  3. It reminds me of having to tell the nurses at work, “Open up your ribbon” in MS Office.

  4. Just anothr example of trendy, cafe latte set coining cute terms they consider smart and edgy.

  5. There are women’s charms, good luck charms, black magic charms and Lucky Charms (Kid’s cereal with marshmallows).   Remember here in USA, we are sue happy.  Right now Apple is suing Amazon for using “app store”.  Microsoft needs to call them some which has no matching naming term from Goggle’s Android or Apple’s iOS.  

  6. I started to leave a comment twice and hesitated, then returned to the picture above. I’ve worked on computers since 1968, so I’ve been at it a while. I now own CowboyTech Computers in Perry, Oklahoma, and tend to think in a somewhat technical mindset. I think they should be named something that’s not just techie, but also techie in a way that it actually instructs the user without being offensive in any way, and without sounding gender biased by any definition.

    I came up with “PORTAL” – as each icon image is a portal to some type of event, unit, or functionality of the system, and the word exudes the idea of having access to something beyond the image.

    So, what do you think Onuora… or anyone else for that matter?

    Lewis –
    CowboyTech Computers
    Living 4 Thee Ministry
    Perry, OK

  7. Wow. I’m reading a bunch of overreactions.

  8. Definitely an overreaction.  I agree that it’s not the most amazing name, but it’s not nearly as bad as the author thinks.  Maybe it’s negative in West Africa, but even the magical connotation is generally seen as either neutral or positive in the US and Europe.

  9. Big deal over nothing! More important, will Windows 8 stand up as a desktop operating system?

  10. Hmmmm does that mean its going to be ” Magicly Delicious ”  or a little leprechaun running around tryin to fix things

  11. I agree with Onuoura, this name refers to witchcraft and is part of New Age movement and refers to magic.. I dont think you are overreacting as others sugest.I have been with computers annd development since 1987. I also think that using the word GOD  and hell is not appropriate as a way of expression. But as we see Americans, who dont believe in God are the ones that express themselves as ” My God !” and are direspectful. Look at the games on the market and I am a big gamer for since 1987. Many refer to witchcraft and magic and see the pictures,yet small children play this with their parent happy that they are busy!
    Hallo Windows 8 this is stupid !

  12. hahaha. I think the IT guys know what they mean with charms not the literary English definition. Maybe its an acronym for something instead. 

  13. Indra Nawawi Daeng Parani / January 29, 2012 at 1:17 am /Reply

    Dear Onuora,

    Our active internet produces many new words that was hard to understand each day. Lucky you Mr. Onuora, move out of West Africa and you can compare your rich African culture to the most modern civilization in the world. Our modern tehnology largely depend from the modern countries where the Industrial revolution started and all we have to do is take all for granted. My native langguage is not English I’ll try to level and try very hard to understand by whatever the word “charms” with many different meanings in Windows. Let me try and give my best shots, it’s still a nice words. Thank you.

  14. Could’t agree more! It is a stupid name indeed!

  15. surely MS is having a laugh with this one, generate chatter about Win8, nice marketing idea, but seriously,   no way!  next we’ll have programs renamed ‘potions’  storage will become the ‘cauldron’   lol

    let me just check, nope, its not April 1st yet!

  16. Like you Onuora I think it is a bit silly.
    To tell the truth I’m not a big fan of Windows 8 whatsoever.
    I keep thinking that Windows 8 is a fill-in till Windows 9 comes out (Like Millennium as a stop gap for XP and Vista as a stop gap for Windows 7)

  17. Sound a little girly to me.

  18. Charm bracelets seem popular these days. (I thought they went the way of the pet rock and cabbage patch dolls, but what do I know?)  Maybe that is what they were thinking of when they came up with the name.  Windows 7 has Desktop Gadgets…maybe they should have tried some variation of that instead?

  19. Oh.that’s the reason behind.

  20. playn and simple it is a stuiped name.

  21. Everson Hilleges / January 29, 2012 at 3:45 pm /Reply

    Onuora,
    I guess you could NOT say “Lucky Charms”, nor “Magically Delicious” , their must be a lot of Leprechauns at Microsoft, cause it’s still  in the testing stage. It all looks like “Tablet” software to me and not for the PC or business app it claims to be for. It might fall to the wayside just like charmed He-Man, Holly Hobby or Cabbage Patch. Oh well, it will be interesting to see what will happen and becomes.

  22. I think the name charms is a positively horrible idea. And as far as IT Pros having to use the name, what about regular joe? A name like Control Panel is synonymous with the place one would go to change settings about their PC. Your Desktop is where you lay important files that you’re either working with or are about to work with. What do you do with your Charms? Dress in a green pilgrim suit and hide them from children? It’s a name that doesn’t make sense. To anyone. Then again, neither does Metro Interface, but that’s a completely different story. Why not just call the area these “charms” are on the dashboard, or shelf, and call the “charms” dashboard/shelf icons. When thinking of that part of the interface, that’s the first thing coming to my mind. I may be wrong, but I’m open to suggestions… that ARE NOT CHARMS. To Microsoft: Stop playing the 45-yr old hipster and call things as they are rather than attempting to sugarcoat it for the consumer. They don’t like it, and neither do IT Pros.

  23. It’s great Onuora ! Must be something special than this name ^_^

  24. Maybe they should use “trinkets”

  25. Not so long ago, maybe still, there was a candy named “Charms.”  Similar to life savers, various colors, only they were square shaped.  Might be that is the ‘charms’ that motivated MS?  Who knows?  I agree, it’s a lousy choice but I don’t think it has an evil connotation in the US.  Elsewhere, maybe.

  26. Onuora, what do you suggest they call it?

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