Perhaps Microsoft Could Hire Count von Count

Today is Windows 7 day. How exciting! I began wondering why Windows 7 was called Windows 7 and started trying to count versions to figure out the numbering scheme.

Why, how simple!

Let’s see. If we consider consumer-oriented versions of Windows, then 95 could be version 4, 98 would be 5, ME would be 6, XP would be 7, Vista 8, and Windows 7 would be 9. Hm, that can’t be right. Maybe we should restrict our numbering to the versions using the NT kernel. Then Windows 2000 could be 5, XP could be 6, Server 2003 could be 7 — or maybe we should skip that and make Vista 7, so that Windows 7 could be 8.

Geez, this is hard. I feel like I’m trying to explain the timeline of pre-Tribulation eschatology. Maybe Microsoft can clear things up.

I’ll say up front, that there are many ways to count the releases of Windows and it’s been both a trip down memory lane and quite amusing to read all the different theories about how we got to the number “7.”

Anyway, the numbering we used is quite simple.

Oh, excellent! Do explain.

The very first release of Windows was Windows 1.0, the second was Windows 2.0, the third Windows 3.0.

I’m with you so far.

Here’s where things get a little more complicated. Following Windows 3.0 was Windows NT which was code versioned as Windows 3.1. Then came Windows 95, which was code versioned as Windows 4.0.

But I thought Windows 3.1 was Windows 3.1, and Windows NT was a completely different beast! At least Windows 95 as Windows 4.0 makes a kind of sense. I bet Microsoft then counted Windows 98 as Windows 5.0 —

Then, Windows 98, 98 SE and Windows Millennium each shipped as 4.0.1998, 4.10.2222, and 4.90.3000, respectively. So we’re counting all 9x versions as being 4.0.

What the what what what? 4.10.2222? They’re just pulling numbers out of a hat now.

Windows 2000 code was 5.0 and then we shipped Windows XP as 5.1, even though it was a major release we didn’t’ want to change code version numbers to maximize application compatibility.

So Windows XP was a major change, but they gave it the version number 5.1. This is adding support to my Numbers From a Hat theory.

That brings us to Windows Vista, which is 6.0. So we see Windows 7 as our next logical significant release and 7th in the family of Windows releases.

Oh, man. This is the quite simple numbering scheme? Where you have a major release that you number as 5.1 instead of 6 just because? Though given this rule, I’m sure Microsoft will number their Windows versions consistently going forward.

So we decided to ship the Windows 7 code as Windows 6.1 – which is what you will see in the actual version of the product in cmd.exe or computer properties.

In three years I can’t wait for them to release the new version, which will also be called Windows 7.

8 thoughts on “Perhaps Microsoft Could Hire Count von Count

  1. They should switch to picking version numbers the way TeX does it: adding digits of transcendental numbers. TeX already uses pi, so maybe Microsoft could use e. Today is Windows 2.7182818284 release day!

  2. Actually, the numbering scheme makes sense to me, insofar as it lines up with the Windows editions that I have actually been offered when I have bought computers.

    Windows 1 and 2 never caught on.

    Windows 3.0 was the big “whoa, I guess DOS is going away” OS for PCs. The tweaked version, 3.1, followed almost immediately on its heels. NT was also floating around, as I recall, but as a home user I never encountered it. My first laptop had 3.1 on it.

    My next two computers came with Windows 95 and 98, respectively. 98 was billed as a fixed-up version of 95, so if MS wants to call them both Windows 4, that makes sense to me. I know ME and 2000 existed, but I never ran into them – the computer manufacturers I considered buying from seemed either not to take them seriously enough to offer them or to deem them not appropriate for my segment of the market.

    My next two computers after that came with XP. Call that 5.

    My next computer after that came with Vista. Call that 6.

    This new OS seems to be a fixed-up version of Vista, which suggests it should be 6.1, but the Vista name is poisonous enough that I can see why MS would want to make a cleaner break with it.

  3. This was brilliant! Made me feel much more grateful for the versioning scheme we use for our software at work.

  4. Personally, I think they should have just done what movie franchises do when they want to make the fact that they’re producing Yet Another Sequel In A Milked-Dry Franchise, and roll back the naming system altogether.

    Call the next version “Windows”. Just “Windows”.

    Or maybe “Windows Balboa”

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