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Windows 7 is really Windows 6.1

Microsoft's naming math: Vista plus 1 is 7

Windows 7 is really Windows 6.1 - Run the VER command and that's what it says!

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Microsoft's naming math: Vista plus 1 is 7

By PETER SVENSSON (AP) 23 hours ago

NEW YORK Microsoft's new operating system launches Thursday, and you may be asking: How did we get to Windows 7? Did I miss 5 and 6?

No, you didn't. But Microsoft Corp.'s names for the successive versions of Windows have been more than a little confusing. It's easy to get the impression that with every new version of Windows, Microsoft wants us to forget that there was a previous one.

Long ago, we had Windows 1, 2 and 3. So far, so good. Then Microsoft started naming its consumer software after the year of release, like a car, and we got Windows 95. That was followed by 98, while professional users got 4.0. But Windows 2000 wasn't for consumers at all the professional version was now named for its vintage as well.

The new millennium raised an obstacle to the year-numbering scheme. Microsoft balked at naming its new system "01." Naming it "2001" wouldn't have worked either: imagine all the jokes about the homicidal computer in the movie "2001: A Space Odyssey." So the new Windows became "XP," a not entirely self-evident contraction of "experience."

There didn't seem to be any other two-letter combination handy to capture Microsoft's goals for the next Windows, so it became "Vista." A vista is what you might see out of a window, so that makes sense, right? Someone thought so.

Vista bombed, prompting Microsoft to make another clean break the third one and give us Windows 7.

Microsoft's official rationale is that "7" is the seventh version of Windows. It gets there by counting up from Windows NT 4.0, skipping Windows 98 and counting both XP and 2000 as No. 5. Vista was No. 6.

Adding to the confusion, Steven Sinofsky, Microsoft's president of Windows, has a variant explanation, saying that Windows 95 was the fourth version of Windows. But Windows 7 is descended from NT 4.0, not Windows 95.

And to further complicate matters, Windows 7 is really Windows 6.1. That's what the operating system will tell software applications that are trying to check which version of Windows they are running on. Windows 7 will say it's 6.1 because it's really a small upgrade from Vista, and programs designed to run on Vista should run with no problems on 7.

"The decision to use the name Windows 7 is about simplicity," according to Mike Nash at the official Windows blog. He then lays it out in terms as clear as the vista from a newly polished window.

Coming up with a new "aspirational name" like XP or Vista, he writes, would "not do justice to what we are trying to achieve, which is to stay firmly rooted in our aspirations for Windows Vista, while evolving and refining the substantial investments in platform technology in Windows Vista into the next generation of Windows."

John Long, a retail strategist at consulting firm Kurt Salmon Associates, points out that it's difficult to come up with words like "Vista" that work well in all languages an important consideration for a world-spanning product like Windows.

"Going back to numbers is logical," Long said. He also pointed out that even if Microsoft has been indecisive about what to stick after the "Windows," it has at least been faithful to the "Windows" brand.

If you're going to jump on the number train, seven is a good place to do it. The number has mostly positive connotations, if you exclude the "Seven Deadly Sins," Long said. In Japan in particular, seven is an auspicious number. Images and statues of the seven gods of happiness and luck are commonplace.

Going with numbers also sets Microsoft up to call the next version Windows 8, which could be a hit in Asia. Chinese culture is somewhat preoccupied with numbers, and eight is the luckiest of them all. That notion sent a crush of Chinese couples to get married on Aug. 8, 2008. Whether having a lucky number in the operating system would get Chinese consumers to buy software rather than pirate it is another matter.

So Microsoft may be on to a naming scheme it can stick with for the long term. But it's taken a long time to get there.

Contrast that with Apple Inc.'s approach. It used a consistent numbering scheme for versions 1 through 9 of its operating system. When it got to 10, the current version, it started adding the names of big cats to the sub-releases: Cheetah, Puma, Jaguar, Panther, Tiger, Leopard and Snow Leopard. Each one tells you there's a purring beast inside, ready to tear into your tasks, and each one sounds consistent with the last.

"I think Apple to some degree likes to play the underdog and likes to imbue their products with a lot more personality," Long said. "Animals do that quite effectively."

The Windows franchise faces a lot of challenges among them, Internet search leader Google Inc.'s plans for its own operating system. So Windows may find itself the underdog one day.

By then, Apple will have already had a lock on cats, but Microsoft could turn to dogs: Windows Greyhound (it's fast), Windows Dachshund (it's compact, good for small computers) or Windows Cocker Spaniel (pretty interface).


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Microsoft hopes for a fresh start with Windows 7

Oct. 22, 2009 07:05 AM

Associated Press

SEATTLE - Microsoft Corp. put a new edition of Windows on sale Thursday, hoping for a fresh start after a bad reception for the previous version of the software that runs most of the world's personal computers.

Windows 7 is now available on new computers, and as a software upgrade for some older PCs.

A Fry's Electronics store in Renton, Wash., several miles south of Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond, opened at midnight to give customers an early shot at buying a new PC or a disc that they could use to put Windows 7 on their existing computers. Such upgrade discs start at $120.

"We're geeks, that's what geeks do. This is our excitement," said Mike Naramor, 55, who runs a consulting business called My Computer Guy and was one of about 50 people who were waiting outside the store when it opened.

Naramor said that he also had bought copies of the last two operating systems, XP and Vista, the nights they were released and that he planned to go home and install Windows 7 right away.

"Vista took me about 72 hours," he said. "I expect this to take me 20 minutes."

Indeed, Microsoft hopes people like Windows 7 more than its most recent predecessor, Vista, which was slow and didn't work well with existing programs and devices. Microsoft fixed many of Vista's flaws, but it was too late to repair the system's reputation.

Windows 7 promises to boot up faster and reduce the clicks needed to get common tasks done. Microsoft has added features to help people keep track of open windows, cut out some redundant ways to start up programs and added flourishes that can help users keep track of all their open windows. It promises to put computers into sleep mode and wake them faster, too.

Windows 7 is also meant to be "quieter" - with fewer pop-up boxes, notifications, warnings and "are you sure ..." messages. Instead, many of those messages get stashed in a single place for the user to address when it's convenient.

To coincide with the Windows 7 launch, computer makers and retailers such as Best Buy Inc. are cutting prices for PCs to try to goose holiday-season sales. Microsoft also is beginning to try running its own retail stores, which has been enormously successful for Apple Inc. The first Microsoft store was set to open Thursday in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Analysts at Gartner Inc. aren't expecting the arrival of Windows 7 to cause a spike in consumer PC sales, which means prices for new machines figure to stay low. Last year was the worst in about six years for the PC industry, and global computer shipments declined through the first half of this year.

The recession has also led businesses to delay spending on PCs and other technologies. Because of those tight budgets and the lack of enthusiasm for Vista, more than 80 percent of new computers installed in offices still run Windows XP, which is now 8 years old, according to Forrester Research. A year from now, Forrester expects most new business PCs to be using Windows 7, but that won't necessarily translate into a huge boost for the PC industry.

In a recent interview, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer acknowledged that information-technology budgets "aren't going to rise just because we shipped a new (operating system)."

 

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