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Microsoft clarifies Windows 7 name, but is it technically accurate?

by Parm Mann on 15 October 2008, 10:49

Tags: Windows 7, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT)

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Microsoft announced yesterday that Windows 7, the forthcoming successor to Windows Vista, will be officially named... Windows 7.

The humble-sounding moniker sounds about right, and we assumed the name related to the fact that the operating system will be seventh technical release of Windows.

Today, Microsoft's Mike Nash has attempted to explain "Why 7?" on the official Windows Vista blog, and has managed only to add confusion to an otherwise well-received name.

According to Nash, the choice to use the number 7 arrived in simple fashion. Microsoft took a look at Windows releases of the past, and decided that Windows 7 is the "next logical significant release and 7th in the family of Windows releases".

That all makes sense to us, and our brief table below shows that Windows 95 was essentially Windows 4, Windows 98 was Windows 4.1, Windows 2000 was Windows 5.0, Windows XP was Windows 5.1 and the current Windows Vista could just as easily be known as Windows 6, right?

Product name Version / Build Release date
Windows 1.01 1.01 November 1985
Windows 2.03 2.03 November 1987
Windows 2.11 2.11 March 1989
Windows 3.0 3.0 May 1990
Windows 3.1 3.1 March 1992
Windows 95 4.0.950 August 1995
Windows 98 4.10.1998 June 1998
Windows 2000 NT 5.0.2195 February 2000
Windows XP NT 5.1.2600 October 2001
Windows Vista NT 6.0.6001 January 2007
Windows 7 NT 6.1.x Late 2009 / Early 2010

The problem, it seems, lies with Windows 7's code as Nash has today confirmed that the retail version will ship with code listed as version 6.1.x - it won't, as many presumed, make the jump to 7.0.

To explain the matter, Nash adds:

There's been some fodder about whether using 6.1 in the code is an indicator of the relevance of Windows 7.  It is not. Windows 7 is a significant and evolutionary advancement of the client operating system.  It is in every way a major effort in design, engineering and innovation.

Trouble is, if the underlying code or build number is shown as 6.1, the Windows 7 name loses all technical relevance. Nash states that the decision to keep code at 6.1 will help developers with version checking for API compatibility - that may be the case, but it now begs the question; is Windows 7 really the right name?

HEXUS Forums :: 17 Comments

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if it was “windows 7.x” you may have had a point… “windows 7” does not match up to the old naming convention though and therefore this is a non-starter
Just like Windows Mobile version name doesn't match up with the actual built versioning.

Windows Mobile 6.1 Professional
CE OS 5.2.19971 (Build 19971.1.2.6)
Sounds alright to me, though it just seems like they're going with Apple's Leopard -> Snow Leopard style thing.
We haven't had the build number match since windows 3.11, since then its been about matching names to IDs. Windows 7 is just another name.
Like I said before, if they wanted to associate it with Vista they'd have just called it Vista mkII (or SE or something). It's just a name.