Mac Musings

Why Is It Called Windows 7?

Dan Knight - 2009.09.02 - Tip Jar

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For those wondering why the new version is Windows 7 instead of some other number, it's based on Microsoft's version numbering scheme. Versions known by other numbers (95, 98) or names (Me, XP, Vista) used internal version numbers. XP was version 5.1, Vista 6.0, and the new one is 7.0.

Windows 1 was released in November 1985, 2.0 in October 1987, and 2.1 (a.k.a. Windows/286 and Windows/386) in May 1988.

Windows 3, which introduced some 32-bit capabilities, came to market in May 1990 and came into its own with version 3.1 in April 1992.

Microsoft split off a "new technology" version of Windows to compete with Unix. It was heavily influenced by Microsoft's partnership with IBM that created OS/2, and development of the new version began as OS/2 version 3. It shipped as Windows NT 3.1 in July 1993 and was fully a 32-bit operating system. It was the first version of Windows that did not run as a shell on top of DOS. Windows NT 3.5 shipped in 1994, and 4.0 in 1996.

Windows 4 came out as Windows 95 in August 1995, the first consumer version with pervasive 32-bit support and pre-emptive multitasking. Windows 98 arrived in June 1998, and a second edition (Windows 98 SE) replaced it a year later. Windows Me (Millenium Edition) shipped in September 2000 and was the final consumer version of Windows 4.

Windows 5 arrived as Windows 2000 in February 2000, a replacement for NT 4.0. The consumer version, known as Windows XP (Windows 5.1), was released to manufacturers in August 2001 and not available on the retail market until October. The latest version is SP3. Windows Server 2003 (Windoes 5.2) replaced Windows 2000 in April 2003, and its latest version is SP2. Microsoft released separate 64-bit versions of Windows XP and Server 2003 in April 2005.

Windows 6 was named Windows Vista, released to manufacturers in November 2006, and reached the retail market in January 2007. Vista is also available in separate 64-bit editions. Windows Server 2008 (Feb. 2008) is another version of Window 6.

Although currently unreleased, the preview and recent builds of Windows 7 identify themselves as version 6.1. We are guessing that Microsoft will change that to 7.0 in the release version.

Isn't it nice that Apple uses a simple, straightforward numbering system?

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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