Windows 10: Why Microsoft skipped Windows 9 with its latest operating system

Windows 95 may be to blame for the confusing name of Microsoft’s latest OS

Zachary Davies Boren
Friday 03 October 2014 11:00 BST
Windows 10 may have its name thanks to Windows 95
Windows 10 may have its name thanks to Windows 95

It turns out that Microsoft may have skipped Windows 9 and gone straight to 10 for a reason that hearkens back to the age of Y2K.

A Redditor claiming to be a Microsoft developer has given the most plausible reason for the numerically inconsistent name of Windows 10.

Cranbourne said that “early testing revealed just how many third party products had code in the form of Windows 9”, referring to benchmark operating systems Windows 95 and Windows 98.

He said: “This was the pragmatic solution to avoid that.”

Essentially, there is a longstanding code short-cut designed to differentiate between Windows 95 and 98 that wouldn’t grasp that there was now a Windows 9.

Indie developer Christer Kaitila has revealed how many applications use that now-problematic code: it’s well over 4000.

Microsoft, for its part, has said nothing of substance about why it went straight from 8 to 10.

Some have speculated that Microsoft was trying to distance itself from the Windows 8 debacle, with 10 seen as a more of a ‘fresh start’ number than 9.

At the OS’ launch on Tuesday, Microsoft Executive said: “When you see the product in your fullness I think you'll agree with us that it's a more appropriate name.”

More on Windows 10: Microsoft launches Windows 10

And a spokesman told Gizmodo: "Windows 10 carries Windows forward into a new way of doing things. It is not an incremental change, but a new Windows that will empower the next billion users."

So until they tell us otherwise, we’re going assume that Windows 10 is not 9 because of some lacklustre coding foresight about 20 years ago.

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