10 Real Reasons Microsoft Skipped Windows 9 - InformationWeek

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10/9/2014
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10 Real Reasons Microsoft Skipped Windows 9

Many people are speculating why Microsoft skipped from Windows 8 to 10. Consider these colorful possibilities.

Windows 10: 11 Big Changes
Windows 10: 11 Big Changes
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

As you undoubtedly heard by now, Microsoft can't count. Its next Windows iteration will not be Windows 9 or Windows 8.2. Instead it's skipping straight to 10. A lot of people are making fun of this. People like order, and skipping numbers bothers the kindergartner in all of us.

Microsoft hasn't been very forthcoming with the exact reason for the switch, though there are rumors it has to do with a Y2K-style problem with older versions of Windows 95 and 98 being referred to as Windows 9 in some scripts.

Personally, I don't buy that. It seems relatively easy to get around. But I did some research and I came up with some other possible reasons:

Top 10 (possibly true) reasons Microsoft is skipping Windows 9 and is going straight to 10.

1. They're hoping it will subliminally encourage critics to write that it is a "10 out of 10!"

2. The Japanese consider 9 to be an unlucky number because it sounds similar to the Japanese word for pain. What's Mr. T's prediction for Windows 9?

3. Microsoft is hoping to make up for tightening profits by selling super rare copies of Windows 9 on the collector's market.

4. Because 7 ate 9.

5. They were going to use Roman numerals and thought "Windows X" would draw a younger crowd. They also considered iNDOWS.

6. Ten matches the prediction of the number of people who will actually use it instead of XP.

7. Vista was taken.

8. When they named this one, they used Common Core math.

9. "Oh, let's just skip number 9." They did.

10. Because this version of Windows doesn't go to 11.

Let's face it, Microsoft has a long history of this. It went from counting to naming them after years like 95 and 98. Then it jumped to names like Vista only to settle back into numbers with Windows 7. You don't have any old copies of Windows 6 lying around, so why should you be bothered by the lack of Windows 9?

The truth is, this shows just how little a name matters to an operating system these days. Windows is Windows, and really Microsoft shouldn't care too much whether you're using 7, 8, or 10. They only care because of the expense of backwards compatibility and because of the security features in newer versions.

[For another take on why versions don't matter, see Windows 10, OS X, Lies, Damn Lies & Version Numbers.]

But consider how mobile phones have changed how software is marketed. The average consumers don't know what version of Android is running on their phones, nor do they shell out big bucks to go from one version to the next. The device updates the version for free. The same is true for other software on the phone. When you update Facebook or Twitter on your phone, does it even bother to tell you what version you are running? Mobile apps seemingly update daily. There's no fanfare.

Other than enterprises that have to prepare for certain major changes to operating systems, the idea of versions of software is dead. You just run Windows. The only reason to come out with a new "version" of software is to charge for it, and we've seen Microsoft lowering prices on operating systems recently, so that impulse is dying as a business reason.

With no reason for consumers to care and decreasing reason for Microsoft to care what version someone is running, numbers and names become increasingly meaningless. The real issue is getting you to buy the device with a Windows logo on it.

Of course, this begs the question of why 10 and not something snazzier like Windows Applekiller, or Windows Coolest Version Ever, or even just plain Windows. Probably the answer is that 10 is a round number and Microsoft couldn't come up with anything that tested better.

Personally, I'd like Microsoft to drop the Windows brand entirely and call its operating system "Cortana," but I don't see that happening anytime soon.

What do you think? Why 10? Does it bother you that it isn't 9? Does it change your perception of 10? Do you plan on using it? Tell us in the comments.

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David has been writing on business and technology for over 10 years and was most recently Managing Editor at Enterpriseefficiency.com. Before that he was an Assistant Editor at MIT Sloan Management Review, where he covered a wide range of business topics including IT, ... View Full Bio
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David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
1/26/2015 | 7:56:53 PM
Re: Perhaps there is a 9
@SamRay- Please keep contributing. this is what a community is for-- to ask questions and see what we can learn. None o fus has all the answers but each of us as some of the answers. We're here to exchange ideas and build on our professional experiences to gain more knowledge. So, please keep it up. that's what we're all here for. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
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1/26/2015 | 6:53:09 PM
Re: Perhaps there is a 9
@samray- Well, not futile, necessarily. But we'll never no the real answer. Sometimes the question yields interesting things even if you never get the right answer, don't you think?
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
1/26/2015 | 6:31:11 PM
Re: Perhaps there is a 9
@SamRay- I'm sure at any given moment there are multiple versions of potential new versions of Windows floating around inside Microsoft so you are probably right that there was a 9 they never used. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/13/2014 | 7:36:14 PM
Re: means nothing
@PaulS681- Generally I agree with you. But i wonder if you can get so out there that the ridicule and negative press you get so dooms you that the version name all of a sudden matters. 

For instance, if Microsoft had switched back to Windows 2015 or something it probably would have at worst been made fun of for constantly switching names. Or if they had gone with a name like Windows Mobile or something, it would have been reviewed on the face of it as a business move.

I would worry that Windows 10 gets so many of these sorts of top 10 lists that it might take away from the product. Personally, I'm a fan of Windows 8, so i wrote this with love. But not everyone does. 

I don't know. Maybe I'm reading too much into it. But so much about the success of products these days has to do with cool factor. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/13/2014 | 7:31:37 PM
Re: means nothing
@SaneIT- Thanks for the compliment. It helps to have kids of the right age. :)

You raise a fun point about home, premium, etc. I would love to see Extreme or perhaps "Windows for Power Users" or something that made me feel awesome for having it. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/10/2014 | 1:21:08 PM
Re: version
@soozyg- yeah, the 13th floor thing always bothered me. Another thing that has always bothered me is how 2015 cars come out in 2014. And this is true of some recurring video games as well. Who do they think thet are kidding?

Windows 10 reminds me of this as well. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
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10/10/2014 | 1:15:31 PM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
@charlie- Very true. But I think the reason they have to shout is because they are taken for granted. It is like when you've eaten meatloaf every Wednesday for years and one day you go out for dinner. It seems like Apple is slowly falling into that rut, too which each announcement being answered with a few more yawns. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
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10/10/2014 | 1:11:09 PM
Re: Spinal Tap!
@whoopty- Thanks. Any time I can use a Reiner in my work, I try to. 

Since I've got at least one person on board with the Cortana idea, I have a question-- Do you think if you completely eliminate the other branding around your OS and make it essentially a character, are there risks?

For instance, let's imagine Windows becomes Cortana and we get really close to an all voice activiated operating system. If the person who voices Cortana asks for too much money and they change the voice, do you run a risk of people getting angry? If Cortana starts seeming old fashioned and you re-design "her" will people get angry?

Some people already seem to act like they have a relationship with Siri. If Siri or Cortana became more integrated, would it matter. I've noticed Google has specifically resisted a character in its new "OK, Google" voice activation effort. I wonder if that is their fear.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/10/2014 | 1:03:08 PM
Re: Win 9% code isn't it?
@somedude8- yes, that story is referenced in the article. Personally, I don't think that alone would be a problem. I saw estimates that that script was in about 4000 apps. It seems like it could have been publicized and worked around if that was the only problem. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
10/10/2014 | 1:01:17 PM
Re: iNDOWS
@jasroff- It figures you'd pick the Common Core math one. That is the only one I didn't come up with. The credit for that one goes to Susan Nunziata. :)
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