Thoughts on the ‘new’ Windows name

Today was a surprise for many, depending on who you talk to. Microsoft chose a low key but effective channel to announce the final branding for the next version of Windows, Windows 7. We in the Windows Enthusiast community have been accustomed to codenames then a final christening sometime during the products technical testing. I have been discussing the moniker for Windows 7 for a good while now and others in the community such as Ed Bott brought the topic up just last week.

I have had my personal views on the topic. Back in late August I shared my thoughts on a post by Mary Jo Foley All About Microsoft, titled: You say major; I say minor – Windows 7

Let me just quote what I had to say, you can see the entire post here


“My Thoughts:
I hate to say it, but Windows 7 client is beginning to sound like a minor release indeed. With both the Server and Client expected to RTM the same time, it pretty much adds up that Windows 7 will actually be version 6.1. The reason I am hearing for the code name is because Steve Sinofsky likes whole numbers, but at the same time, it just does not add up why you would call the codename ‘Windows 7’, unless the Windows Team is considering it a 7th release of the Windows product, not technically a 7th ‘version’ of the NT kernel itself. We must take into account, Microsoft stop using the NT version in its branding with the release of Windows 2000 which was 5.0, XP 5.1, Server 2003 5.2.

Here is the problem I just discovered after writing the above, Microsoft could not use that logic, since it would mean that XP was the 6th release of Windows, Vista the 7th and 7 being the 8th.Microsoft needs to explain themselves. If it continues with the 6.1 version by Beta 1, its definitely a Vista R2 and Windows Server 2008 R2 releases.

Another thing about versions

During the early parts of the Longhorn development, when the OS was at Alpha, Microsoft christened it version 6.0, I am talking builds 4xxx. The leaked Windows 7 builds we have been seeing earlier this year have been using the version 6.1 for the kernel. Some said that was because not all of the product had matured enough to become a part of what at Microsoft is called the ‘winmain’ build. Persons in the enthusiast community assumed that by PDC 2008 Windows 7’s kernel would reflect version 7, but with PDC only a couple months away, its looking unlikely at this stage.”

I will admit, I have been reading the releases wrong, but I did point out the possible way Microsoft has now decided to communicate Windows 7.

Some persons are looking on Windows XP 5.1 as a major release that discredits Windows 7 as being a 7th release, it would in fact make it the 8th release. Lets go back down memory lane:

  1. Windows 1x – 1.0, 1.1
  2. Windows 2x – 2.0, 2.1
  3. Windows 3x – 3.0, 3.1, 3.2 (Chinese) NT 3.1, NT 3.5, NT 3.51
  4. Windows 4x – 95, NT 4.0, 98, 98 SE, ME
  5. Windows 5x – 2000 (5.0), XP (5.1), Server 2003/R2 (5.2)
  6. Windows 6x – Vista, Server 2008
  7. Windows 7

The versioning still needs to be questioned, since the kernel version still remains 6.1 and Microsoft considers this a major release as XP (5.1). The discrepancy in marketing is highlighted when you look deeper at Windows 7. Logical reasons for this naming has been suggested, but the reason why Microsoft has retained the kernel version has been noted by Microsoft – Compatibility.

“Furthermore, Windows 7, despite it’s rather pretentious sounding code name (a result of Sinofsky’s like of big round numbers) is NOT Windows NT 7, but rather 6.1(current builds are numbered 67xx as a direct continuation of the longhorn codebase). Put simply, it is not a big jump as a codebase revision and the new changes, on both the client and server, will be focused on user features, not core OS components. The big core OS changes are WDDM 2 and a kernel scheduler update to remove the simple bitmask enumeration of processors so that the OS can schedule more than 64 concurrent threads."

Microsoft wants to ensure compatibility is not a problem with this release, and 6.1 as the NT kernel ensures that. A lot of people are calling this release minor, but please, understand, its not, its actually major and there will be a whole lot more to be revealed. Windows XP itself was considered a major update that introduced many changes such as the Luna Theme and the updated Start menu in addition to being first consumer version of Windows based on NT.


Introducing Windows 7
Introducing Windows Vista

Bill Gates Unveils Microsoft Windows XP — The New Windows


Filed under Windows 7

15 responses to “Thoughts on the ‘new’ Windows name

  1. Chuma

    You say that the windows kernel for windows 7 is actually 6.1, but couldn\’t Microsoft just increase the version number? After all, they are the guys who determine what constitutes a new kernel, and if Sinofsky uses the argument, "Because I said so" then it becomes windows 7 in name and version number.

  2. Andre

    Hi Chustar,One of Microsoft\’s major focus for this release of Windows is maintaining compatibility with your existing software and device drivers. If you upgraded to Windows Vista and then upgrade to Windows 7 when it is released you won\’t have to worry too much about compatibility and reliability. The problem for many third party developers is major disruption in the Windows kernel, this is what happened during Windows Vista and 2000\’s developments. Because a lot of developers do not program their applications properly do OS version checking, this reduces the experience end users might have running certain software on the new OS if Microsoft had incremented the kernel version to 7.0. Windows 7, which is the brand name, marks this as the 7th major release of Windows.

  3. Unknown

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