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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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soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 11:48:25 AM
iNDOWS
They also considered iNDOWS

They'd probably be sued by Apple within nanoseconds.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 6:35:19 PM
Re: iNDOWS
My favorite:

 

When they named this one, they used Common Core math.
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. :)
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 5:08:36 PM
Re: iNDOWS
>> 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. :)

 

Well, it shows that great minds think alike! @dave @susan
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 10:00:22 AM
Re: iNDOWS
Considering how much Windows has "borrowed" from Apple over the years, I am surprised that legal action has never been taken.
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 11:52:10 AM
Spinal Tap!
Nice reference there!

I too can see it making its OS of the future into Cortana. It certainly would ring true with the OS of the future that Her showed us. 

Still in the mean time, I think you're probably right, 10 was mostly just a round number and sounds almost next generation. 'This one has two digits.' It could also be going head to head with OS X in a naming war, since technically they're both called the same thing now. 
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
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.
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
10/11/2014 | 6:24:00 PM
Re: Spinal Tap!
But if Windows had that extra something... it would go to 11.
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 11:52:25 AM
version
Windows is Windows, and really Microsoft shouldn't care too much whether you're using 7, 8, or 10. 

I think numbers are better than names, though. Mac's OS's always have a name--Snow Leopard, Panther, etc--and because they're not numbered I never remember their order.
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 5:38:30 PM
Re: version
There's a reason it is called "Window Pane"  Pun iNTENDED.

Someone on the MSFT Windows Development team must dabble in Numerology because: 

Negatively, number 9 relates to disconnection, lethargy and an inability to concentrate and focus.

This.

 
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 9:27:53 PM
Re: version
@vnewman2 I know numerology is a more accepted practice than superstitions, but if Msft named according to numerology, that reminds me of the buildings in New York City (and elsewhere) that don't "count" the 13th floor in apartment buildings, where the elevator buttons don't have a 13 and all the 13th floor apartments have numbers in the 14's. It's still the 13th floor, people.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 10:18:29 AM
Re: version
And lets not forget the MTA discontinued the #9 subway and the #8 service has not been used in decades! The #10 line has never even existed.
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. 
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 10:29:43 AM
Re: version
And Android has both. I think the latest version is Kit Kat 4.4. But like iOS, the operating system is secondary to the apps.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2014 | 2:53:35 PM
Shouting versus whispering
Skipping a number, of course, shouts to the world that this is so different it can't be associated with its progenitors. The first company I remember doing this was Sybase, long ago. Of course, if you have to shout, that means nobody is really paying attention to you. Apple sells devices with whispered rumors on what they may be like.
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2014 | 4:12:34 PM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
Versioning has become meaningless. It's just branding, as a recent column discussed - if we all stopped rewarding these games with breathless speculation, maybe vendors would stop playing.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
10/9/2014 | 6:09:47 PM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
Products should be versioned by date, to avoid annoyances like the Intel Core Duo 2 and Mac OS X 10.10.

 
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 9:20:48 PM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
@Thomas, I like that method!
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
10/9/2014 | 6:33:06 PM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
You're right -- it's really about branding -- which MSFT has done a very poor job with over the years. Numbers don't really count anymore, they are not consumer friendly, and even for IT tech buyers and support staff, you have to know what's different about it, what it does, etc. 

Two random thoughts 

1. I keep thinkinf of the old Beatles song which starts  with John Lennon saying "Number 9, Number 9..."

2. I'm so glad they didn't go with the English Alphabet, so no Version A, G, W...techies don't like letters
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 10:22:00 AM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
That Beatles piece was Revolution 9 which is really some avant garde work as opposed to a song. It is very druggy and strange. It would have been interesting if MS used it for their adverts for a Win 9. They might have been better off using Lennon's #9 Dream.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 3:38:24 PM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
>> hey might have been better off using Lennon's #9 Dream.

 

Yes, that's the one I meant. Although associating John Lennon with MSFT, well, doesn't work, does it?

 

 
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 4:27:54 PM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
No definitely not. Lennon was a rebel, iconoclast and an innovator. Those traits don't describe MSFT now or ever!
vnewman2
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vnewman2,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 7:18:02 PM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
@jastroff - well, I was a huge John Lennon/Beatles fan and No 9 Dream was one of my favorites, so after reading your post I watched the video last night - I think MSFT missed the mark on this: Windows Bowakawa (pousse, pousee).
TonyKerryM411
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TonyKerryM411,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/8/2016 | 1:21:29 AM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
The John Lennon Theory is very appropriate. The White Album released in 1968 had Lennon repeating 'Number 9' (Revolution 9). He was fascinated in the number 9 (look up 'the number nine' dream). Lennon was a part owner of 'The APPLE Recording Studio'. 'Apple' is the major competition of Microsoft. It was done out of spite.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 10:12:23 AM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
As long as MS and Apple charge for the new operating systems, they will have to brand them. The reason nobody knows what version of the OS is on their phones is because the OS is free and not as important as the apps (some of which are sold). The only time you really have to know what version of the OS you are running on the phone is when something goes wrong.
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/14/2014 | 1:40:12 PM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
This conversation reminds me of the iPhone spoofs on YouTube by "Let's Be Honest" about the various versions of iPhone. The IW isn't letting me post the URLs here but you can google them. Amusing.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/24/2014 | 10:42:02 AM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
Hi Soozy! I am going to check the links out. The iPhone is a very nice device but it really is overrated and over priced.
soozyg
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soozyg,
User Rank: Ninja
11/24/2014 | 4:47:44 PM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
Hi tjgkg! long time no speak!

I agree about the iPhone... however, I was strong-armed by my son into trading his LG for an iPhone 5s because, apparently, his middle school friends only use iPhones now, they won't even look at Androids. 
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 10:26:35 AM
Re: Shouting versus whispering
With MS, the new OS will also be the first big release under the leadership of their new CEO. My guess would be that he deliberately wanted to distance himself from Ballmers Bomb as much as possible and signal a whole new beginning for Windows.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
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. 
dw_ship
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dw_ship,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 8:58:04 AM
10
Now Mr. Monk can be happy. Of course, the next version would need to be 100.
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 10:07:35 AM
The Good Old Days
Numbering the OS release is a relic from the good old days of DOS. Remember when each new release of the operating system was widely anticipated back in the 90's? What new features would be added? How much better will my memory be managed? What software will work with this release? Those and many more questions were asked and needed to be answered. Today it doesn't really matter much because the OS manages memory and other vital functions of the hardware. And now standards have been issued by Microsoft and Apple to developers regarding what they need to incorporate before their applications run on the OS. Things are a lot smoother now so version numbers for the OS do not matter as much. Unless of course the OS is so bad that it puts the spotlight on itself. Sort of like what happened with Vista and 8.x. MS is wise to get as far away from 8.x as possible and those who let that "thing" out.
Somedude8
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Somedude8,
User Rank: Ninja
10/10/2014 | 12:05:04 PM
Win 9% code isn't it?
Wasn't there a story with some possible credibility going around that MS was concerned about the amount of code they were finding that had (in pseudocode)

if winVersion == 9%

/* do win 95/98 stuff */

end if

 
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. 
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
10/11/2014 | 6:20:01 PM
means nothing
The next version number really means nothing. It's fun to pick on but if it's a bust it's not going to be because they went from 8 to 10. 7 ate 9 is my favorite.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
10/13/2014 | 7:54:42 AM
Re: means nothing
I actually laughed out loud at 7 ate 9 and almost spit out my coffee.  David needs a little kudos for that one.  My first thought though when I heard Windows 10 I thought of this one.

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

 

I automatically assumed that Microsoft was jumping on the X bandwagon even though they are a bit late.  To me it sounded like the way cellular companies name their networks to try and sound like they are keeping pace with each other.  I'm still waiting for Windows eXtreme though, since we have Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate, I think it's time we really opened it up and go extreme.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
10/13/2014 | 8:09:24 AM
Re: means nothing
yeah, there were some really funny ones

 

thanks @dave
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. 
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
10/14/2014 | 7:29:59 AM
Re: means nothing
The naming convention is confusing for the average user but I'd bet that Windows for Power Users would sell better than Home Premium.  Honestly it would be nice if they'd just stop with all the different versions and follow Apple's lead, one for the desk and one for the datacenter.  Microsoft is having a hard time letting go of their licensing schema but the push to have Win 10 deliver across every platform makes me hopeful that they will streamline in the near future.
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. 
PaulS681
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PaulS681,
User Rank: Ninja
10/18/2014 | 6:14:00 PM
Re: means nothing
@David, I agree it could mean something. There is something to be said for the "cool" factor.
Tadahel
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Tadahel,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/14/2014 | 9:41:09 AM
What's in a name?
I have a Windows Vista desktop PC - it works fine, despite my grumblings at the time I replaced my previous Desktop with it. I also have a lap-top with Windows 7 on it - and that too works fine, despite my grumblings at the time I replaced my previous lap-top with it. As far as I can discern, the OS's name has absolutely no bearing on its efficacy or likeability

 

What's in a name? You could call the OS 'Rasputin the mad monk' and some people would love it and some would hate it. All that really matters is whether it works or not - does it have the functionality you want ; does it work without glitches ; will it run your software without holding you to ransom ; is it innocuous and not demand a Doctorate in Astrophysics just to manage its basic config settings etc? These are the things that matter - not its name.

So, call it what you like - just make sure the damned thing works.

 

Boris.
GarethWonfor
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GarethWonfor,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/23/2015 | 6:32:19 PM
Re: What's in a name?
'Rasputin the mad monk' - that was a Ubuntu release wasn't it? ;)
kstaron
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kstaron,
User Rank: Ninja
10/29/2014 | 11:48:41 AM
Another reason
I think I may have another reason they skipped 9 and went to ten. They are distacing themselves from windows 8, that awkward system that kept trying hang out on all the cool mobile devices.

That and when you hear windows 10 and you're on 8 you think you must have missed an update and are truly expecting something better than what you have, not just a fix for what isn't working in the current version. Now as far as that goes, does Windows 10 make it better?
SamRay
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SamRay,
User Rank: Strategist
1/24/2015 | 6:55:53 PM
Perhaps there is a 9
Perhaps there is a version 9 but they do not want to admit it. That could explain why they don't want to exlain. Perhaps Windows 9 was a continuation of the Windows 8 disaster. There might be tremendous battles within Microsoft and the Windows 8 enthusiasts was fighting for a continuation of Windows 8 in the form of Windows 9.
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. 
SamRay
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SamRay,
User Rank: Strategist
1/26/2015 | 6:44:51 PM
Re: Perhaps there is a 9
Thank you, David. So it is futile to ask why they skipped a version.
David Wagner
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David Wagner,
User Rank: Strategist
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?
SamRay
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SamRay,
User Rank: Strategist
1/26/2015 | 7:49:23 PM
Re: Perhaps there is a 9
People spend time playing games. People spend time watching TV. To that extent, it is worthwhile having long discussions about everything and anything. I am not interested in a discussion based on the premise that we cannot know the truth. I should not have contributed, I am sorry.
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. 
NJ Mike
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NJ Mike,
User Rank: Moderator
7/29/2015 | 2:35:14 PM
The real reason
The naming of the new Windows is just an example why naming software and binge drinking don't mix.
2302daniel the gamer.287
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2302daniel the gamer.287,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/14/2016 | 12:31:46 PM
No i have the real reason!
They skipped because the startup code in the computer thought it was going to startup windows 95 or 98!
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