Microsoft has announced a new codename for the Windows OS that will follow the yet-to-ship Vista - "Vienna".

The previous codename for the operating system, Blackcomb, was taken from a Canadian ski resort, but has now been dropped in favour of a name inspired by the altogether grander capital of Austria.

"This does not reflect a big change for us; we have used city codenames in the past, which are derived from cities/locations in the world known for great 'vistas' - the kinds of places we all want to see, experience and that capture the imagination," said Microsoft, cleverly reminding people that there was another Windows to come before we get our hands on Vienna.

The tradition of using place names is a long-established tradition at Microsoft. Previous operating systems stretching back to the late 1980s, have used the development monikers Sparta (Windows for Workgroups 3.1), Daytona (Windows NT 3.5), Cairo (Windows NT 4.0), Chicago (Windows 95), Memphis (Windows 98), and Whistler (Windows XP).

More recently, the company briefly broke with the grand city tradition when it used the Whistler ski resort in Canada as its codename for Windows XP, following this with Longhorn – a nearby ski bar – for what became Vista.

Every product now has a place name code at Microsoft, most of which are never used by anyone outside the software community. Curiously, Vienna is also listed by some Microsoft-watching websites as the codename of Office Live Communication Server 2005.

With the arrival of the Pentium in 1995, and subsequent P6, chip giant Intel also got into the habit of giving its otherwise inscrutable future microprocessors place names, apparently inspired by small towns associated in some way with a particular chip’s development team. The names also helped to keep tabs on the bewildering profusion of chip variants.

There is no confirmed timescale for the release of Blackcomb/Vienna, but at least the world knows what to call it until it does arrive.