Microsoft has come clean about why it decided to skip the number nine when naming its upcoming operating system Windows 10.
When Windows 10 was first unveiled last autumn, it was widely assumed that the successor of Windows 8 would be called Windows 9, but Microsoft skipped a digit and settled on Windows 10 instead.
Some speculated at the time that Microsoft was keen to move as far away as possible from the divisive Windows 8 and others even claimed Windows 9 was not possible because many coders from the Windows 95 and Windows 98 era often used "Windows 9" for short, meaning technical issues could arise.
But at its Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando, Microsoft opened up on the reason Windows 10 was selected.
Microsoft's general manager for Windows product marketing, Jeremy Korst, who was among those in charge of naming the new OS, said the number nine did not seem to reflect the "milestone" nature of Windows 10.
"We thought about the major innovations we were bringing in Windows 10 across the broadest array of devices – the Internet of Things, traditional PCs, 85in Surface Hubs [and] the mindblowing HoloLens," he said. "So for the first time we had a common core across all those devices and that was a major milestone. Windows is 30 years old – it turns 30 in November – so we have been on this path for 30 years and we have reached that place where we have this common core, so that was one aspect.
"We also went out and talked to a bunch of customers and partners and said 'based on what we are planning with Windows, what do you think a great name is?' We had a variety of options which we thought were good and we frankly just got feedback."
He would not be drawn on what some of the other possible titles were for the new OS, but did say that Windows 9 was a contender.
"There were a lot of options." he said. "There was Windows 9. We could probably spend an hour here throwing out names and most of them were probably considered at some time. But this one really rose to the top and internally we rallied around it.
"This marks a major shift in the way Windows comes to market, and when we put all those factors together, we thought that Windows 10 was just the best name for the product we are going to launch at the end of July. You can imagine with any naming process there is lots of data and opinions but we are very confident that Windows 10 was a great name for this version of the operating system."
Push and pull
Many commercial customers will have recently finished a long migration process from Windows XP to Windows 7 or Windows 8 in the past two years after support for the old OS came to an end last summer.
Microsoft insisted that this is not bad timing for the launch of Windows 10 and that plenty of customers will still be keen to upgrade, despite having done so only recently.
Craig Dewar, senior director of Windows commercial marketing, said customers ditched XP because they were made to, but will upgrade to Windows 10 because they want to.
"The upgrade from XP to Windows 7 is quite hard, primarily because there are significant changes to the security model of those products," he said. "The move from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is much easier for customers. So I think the work is a lot less for customers to do it today. The reasons they want to do it [upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10] are quite high [profile].
"One of them is security. If you look at some of the security threats – commercial customers have found themselves under attack quite frequently in the last few years, particularly in financial services and retail. We're seeing very successful breaches and loss of information. There's a rise of injection of malware too... but all those threats are mitigated in Windows 10 with built-in technology to move away from passwords to certificates.
"It is much easier than the upgrade in the past and there are significant reasons customers want to do it now. It is a different climate – with XP we were saying you have to move because it is end of support... now the customers are saying 'I know what I am using does not secure me from the threats I am coming under... and so I want to move'."
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