What Happened to Windows 9?

In case you haven’t been paying attention, Microsoft is releasing a new version of Windows, going from Version 8 to 10, and the quick answer to my question is another question: “Why should you expect a Windows 9? When was Microsoft ever known to assign operating system numbers sequentially?”

To prove my point, I went back and checked. There have been variations and minor editions, but the versions of Windows of consequence for desktop computers are: 3.0, 3.1, Windows for Workgroups, NT, 95, 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, and now 10. Not exactly a straight line.

(So if ever you’re doing one of those “sequence” test, you’ll know the answer to “what comes next: NT, 95, 98, ME …”)

There are a few possible answers I was able to find for skipping 9. One of them is that 9 is apparently considered to be unlucky in Japan. Another one is that there are hard-coded instructions in Windows to check for if the operating system number starts with 9, intending to treat 95 and 98 as special.

Another theory is that Microsoft simply wants to create more distance between version 8 (actually 8.1 if you want to be technical) and the new release. 9 just seems too much like a small step whereas 10 seems like a whole new operating system. When XP was retired, a lot of organizations migrated to Windows 7 even though 8 was available. And many who do use Windows 8 do so in “Windows 7 mode”, with a task bar at the bottom. (Remember the “where is the Start Button” brouhaha?)

I’m buying that last one. Microsoft is hoping Version 10 will be taken more seriously.

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