I saw a “funny” picture on my Facebook feed this morning, trying to point out how dumb the new Windows 10 name is.
Whoever made this picture was doing it just for laughs and obviously never looked at how Microsoft actually names and versions its releases of Windows software. Heck, they even got which CEO to use wrong. Gates stepped down from development in 2006 (right before Vista).
The truth is actually much, much more confusing.
What the public doesn’t know is that in the early days of Microsoft Windows, there were actually two different versions; NT based and DOS based. The NT based Windows were intended for business while the DOS based variants were for home use. When the turn of the century came around, Windows 2000 (NT5) came out for businesses and was a wild success. Hoping they could bring many of the features that businesses loved to the home market, Microsoft tried incorporating Windows 2000 feature set into a DOS based variant and named it Windows ME (Millennium Edition). It failed. It failed HARD.
What wasn’t immediately known, however, was that Microsoft already had a plan to bring NT to the masses and that Windows ME wasn’t really supposed to be a big release. It was more of a “Eh, why not” effort that entirely backfired. And so, a year later, Windows XP was released to the world. This was the first time the NT kernal was brought to the home market and marked the end of the DOS versions of Windows. If you’re keeping track, this means Windows XP was also Windows 5.1.
In late 2006, Windows Vista was released with the NT6 kernal. And that was the last time any of it made any sense at all.
Keen to distance itself from Vista’s perceived shortcomings with its next release, Microsoft named its next OS Windows 7 (since, logically, 7 comes after 6). This also marked the first time since 1993 that Microsoft used a version number in the naming of a home OS. The problem was that Windows 7 actually runs the NT6.1 kernal, which is why I laugh at people who tell me how bad Vista was but how good 7 is. Even worse was Microsoft’s perpetuation of the lie with Windows 8, which is actually Windows NT 6.2. How about the new Windows 8.1? Actually Windows NT 6.3.
If you really want your understanding of it all tested, you can see the release history for yourself, courtesy of this handy image from Wikipedia.
So, what version is Windows 10? Technically, it’s Windows 6.4. And if you doubt the authenticity of any of this, or think that this is just a tech geek being too technical, all you have to do is run winver yourself on your own computer to get exactly what Windows calls itself, right down the build number.
Here’s hoping that they can eventually release a statement about this that’s better than “We think 10 just feels better”.