What happened to Windows 9?

When Windows 10 was revealed, many people were surprised that the company had skipped straight past “Windows 9”. To date, no-one has unearthed a straightforward explanation for why Microsoft miscounted, but various theories – both serious and light-hearted – have tried to explain the omission.

Hello, goodbye

Even Microsoft admits that Windows 9 was on the cards, at least for a while. According to Tony Prophet, vice president for Windows marketing, Microsoft was working on an OS dubbed Windows 9, but ditched it to push onwards with Windows 10.

According to Business Insider, Prophet told an audience at Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference that “it [Windows 9] came and it went”.

Prophet didn’t explain his comment any further, but went on to echo what Joe Belfiore and Terry Myerson, head of operating systems at Microsoft, said at the launch of Windows 10.

Terry Myerson revealing Windows 10

“Windows 10 is not going to be an incremental step from Windows 8.1,” said Prophet. “Windows 10 is going to be a material step. We’re trying to create one platform, one ecosystem that unites as many of the devices from the small, embedded Internet of Things through tablets, through phones, through PCs and, ultimately, into the Xbox.”

Nine ain’t nothing but a number

Software developer Kevin Gosse made an interesting discovery following Microsoft’s 2015 Build conference: the company had hidden secret messages in the T-shirts worn by a number of employees, including Joe Belfiore, Microsoft’s corporate vice-president of operating systems.

windows-10-binary-shirt

Image: Kevin Gosse

You’d have been forgiven for thinking that the shirts were entirely innocuous; nothing more than a Windows logo printed on the front of a blue T-shirt.

However, the Windows logo was actually made up from lines of binary code. Gosse took a photo, did a bit of detective work and deciphered four hidden messages on the shirts:screen_shot_2015-07-29_at_16

1. There are 10 types of people in the world

2. Windows 10, because 7 8 [ate] 9.

3. Congrats on being one of the first.

4. Windows Insiders help us develop the future. Talk to us @ Windows

Microsoft is no stranger to hiding Easter eggs in its software, but this is the first time the company had ever used clothing to get a (hidden) message across.

Blame Windows 95

Reddit provided one of the more sensible explanations for the demise of Windows 9: it was all the fault of Windows 95 and Windows 98. The allegedly show-stopping issue stems from a compatibility issue with legacy software. An anonymous Microsoft developer posted the following explanation on Reddit:

“Microsoft dev here, the internal rumours are that early testing revealed just how many third-party products that had code of the form

if(version.StartsWith("Windows 9"))
{ /* 95 and 98 */
} else {

and that this was the pragmatic solution to avoid that.”

It sounds faintly ludicrous, but it was suggested was that some software applications might mistake Windows 9 for Windows 95 or 98 and refuse to run. Reason enough for Microsoft to skip Windows 9 and go straight to Windows 10? Probably not on its own. Combined with other reasons? Maybe.

You can’t handle the truth

Sadly, if you were expecting a dramatic back story explaining Windows 9’s disappearing act, then prepare to be disappointed. The safe money is on the fact that Microsoft just liked the sound of Windows 10.

Windows 10 review: The desktop

At the launch event in San Francisco, Myerson explained: “Windows 10 will be our most comprehensive platform ever… We know, based on the product that’s coming, and just how different our approach will be overall, it wouldn’t be right to call it Windows 9.”

In other words, it was a canny piece of marketing, pure and simple. After all, everyone knows that ten is better than nine. The only question is why Microsoft didn’t go straight to 11.

Read Alphr’s review to get the definitive verdict on Redmond’s latest attempt to shake up Windows.

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