Is Microsoft’s use of the Tulalip name for a secret, internal social networking effort insensitive to the Native American tribe? That’s the question on the minds of some in Snohomish County where the Tulalips live.

Here’s the back story: Last week, Microsoft inadvertently released a Web site touting a new social sharing service called Socl.com, which happened to be operating under the code-name Tulalip. Microsoft quickly pulled down the site, noting that the site had never been meant to be published to the Web.

Now, The Herald in Everett reports today that the Tulalips are in discussions with Microsoft about the use of the code-name. One high-ranking member of the tribe, Rep. John McCoy, suggested that Microsoft may have infringed on the Tulalip name.

Of course, it is a code-name and Microsoft says that it was never meant for public consumption.

With more than 3,600 members, the Tulalip tribe was formally organized in 1936, according to a history on the tribe’s Web site. It is perhaps best known for a massive casino that borders Interstate 5.

As one GeekWire reader noted last week, it is unlikely that Tulalip would ever land on a public-facing product from Microsoft.

“No one outside of Seattle can pronounce it and some MSFT people would claim that it is politically sensitive,” the reader wrote.

Microsoft has a long history of choosing code-names for products, and often times they are associated with geographic areas in the region. So, in the wake of the dust-up over the Tulalip name, can you match these Microsoft code-names with the actual product:

Whidbey.

Whistler.

Roslyn.

Longhorn.

Comments

  • Paul

    Is this a serious question? Outside of the slip up where this research project was accidentally published to the web, what’s wrong with using an Indian tribe as a code name for an internal project? There are even shipping products that use Indian tribe names. For example, if you Google Apache, what comes up first? Though in that case, I agree that getting permission first is common courtesy (not that I’m certain Apache software did that mind you).

  • http://twitter.com/bestgeekfriend Matt Ebert

    Sounds alot more like the Tulalip tribe is looking for a quick payday.  Too bad the amount of money the MSFT employees drop in their casino on a weekly basis is not enough.

  • http://blogs.zdnet.com/microsoft Mary Jo Foley
  • http://www.intrinsicstrategy.com FrankCatalano

    My favorite example of a code name gone wrong was nearly two decades ago with Apple Computer. To excerpt one of my first Byte Me columns in Seattle Weekly from 1994:

    “What do astronomers know about the computer industry? Not much, if Carl Sagan is any hint. Apple Computer bestowed the internal code name ‘Carl Sagan’ on one of its leading-edge Power Macintosh computers when it was in development. Sagan, catching wind of this, wrote a stuffy, self-important letter to Apple and computer trade magazines protesting the use of his name for commercial purposes — even though the code name was not the real name of the computer. So Apple is said to have changed the code name to
    ‘BHA’ — reportedly, ‘Butt-Head Astronomer.’ Now Sagan’s sued Apple for defamation of character. Some may say Sagan doesn’t need help there.”

    The suit was thrown out later the same year. But not before Bob Dylan sued Apple for allegedly calling an unreleased programming tool “Dylan” (supposedly short for Dynamic Language). Ignoring, perhaps, the fact that Dylan’s own name was taken from poet Dylan Thomas.

  • Bob Cone

    Whidbey: Visual Studio 2005
    Whistler: Windows XP
    Roslyn: Visual Studio 2010
    Longhorn: Windows Vista

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