Windows 10? What happened to Windows 9?

Apparently I’m not the only one asking that question. The top autocomplete in Google right now for “what happened” is “what happened to windows 9”. Since Microsoft unveiled Windows 10 recently, and their current OS is Windows 8.1, it seems like a valid question.

windows 9

The answer to “what happened to Windows 9?” is that we aren’t even close to that actual version and Microsoft has skipped around a lot in their naming structure. Here’s a breakdown of consumer focused versions of Windows:

Windows 1 1985
Windows 1.03 1986
Windows 1.04 1987
Windows 2.0 1987
Windows 2.10 1988
Windows 2.11 1989
Windows 3.0 1990
Windows 3.1 1993
Windows NT 3.1 1993 (NT 3.1)
Windows 3.2 1993
Windows NT 3.5 1994 (NT 3.5)
Windows NT 3.51 1995 (NT 3.51)
Windows 95 1995
Windows NT 4.0 1996 (NT 4.0)
Windows 98 1998
Windows 2000 2000 (NT 5.0)
Windows ME 2000
Windows XP 2001 (NT 5.1)
Windows Vista 2007 (NT 6.0)
Windows 7 2009 (NT 6.1)
Windows 8 2012 (NT 6.2)
Windows 8.1 2012 (NT 6.3)
Windows 10 2015 (NT 10.0)

If Microsoft had stuck with a sequential numbering system for their naming convention based strictly on releases, we would be on Windows 14 or so. Microsoft has gone back and forth with their naming convention and this time is syncing the version numbers of Windows and NT.  I suspect their naming convention going forward will be standardized and stick to numbers.  But who knows, they could call the next one Windows Elephant.

What is NT? NT stands for “New Technology” and when it was coined it meant that the OS was built to support multiple processor cores – the “new technology”. Previous versions of Windows were 16/32 bit hybrids, and NT versions are purely 32 bit. (Yes, I know, NT also runs 64 bit) Versions of Windows without an NT designation would not work on a system that has more than one processor core without some serious work.

Microsoft has decided not to explain why they called it Windows 10.  People are speculating reasons such as the number nine is unlucky in Japan, and that some software checks for Windows 95 or 98 versions by looking for version “9*” which would mean anything with a “9”.  If Windows 9 went out, some old programs used by big companies for inventory management, etc., could immediately and permanently break.  If I’m honest, I doubt that Microsoft cared that much about that because they rarely care about how their software will break legacy programs so why start now?

Microsoft might tell us for sure, but for now, it is unclear why they chose “Windows 10” and in reality they owe us no explanation.  Let’s just hope it’s a good OS and not another piece of junk like Windows 8.