Windows 9 reportedly skipped as name would have created code bugs

Windows 9 logoBack in the 1990s lazy coders often put checks for if the first part of the OS name string was "Windows 9". Now like some bizarre form of Y2K, those lingering bits of code have returned and forced Microsoft to make a bold move, according to some developers claims.

True to rumors, with the release of its public Technical Preview of "Threshold" Microsoft diverged from the name widely assigned by the media -- Windows 9. Instead Microsoft will be jumping from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. So what happened to Windows 9?

Redditor "cranbourne" was perhaps the first to note the problem Windows 9 would have posed, given lazy OS identification coding. Gizmodo and Engadget both blogged about the theory as well.

A day or two later and the theory still has no official confirmation from Microsoft, whose spokesperson told Gizmodo:

Windows 10 carries Windows forward into a new way of doing things. It is not an incremental change, but a new Windows that will empower the next billion users.

Uh, huh.

But the idea has been backed up by searches of popular third party open source Windows plugins and software. For example, it appears in many core Java packages.

Windows 9 reportedly skipped as name would have created code bugs

As Redditors suggest, it's quite possible that similar lazy identification is also found in parts of Windows, meaning that Microsoft might have not only broken the code of others, but its own code, if it went to Windows 9.

Perhaps the most compelling evidence that the hypothesis may be valid is the fact that it's been backed by so many high profile developers, including Jeff Atwood.

The news that Windows 10 may have been named that way because of .StartsWith("Windows 9") checks reminds me of

— Jeff Atwood (@codinghorror) October 1, 2014

LOL at the "real" reason MSFT went straight to Windows 10! This code is all over the place:

— Christer Kaitila (@McFunkypants) October 1, 2014

I bet the real reason it's called Windows 10 is because some enterprise app written 20 years ago checks for "Windows 9x". #imaginethemeeting

— ???? (@anildash) September 30, 2014

While these individuals don't claim to have the inside scoop from Microsoft, they point to historical examples of similar unexpected bugs that weren't realized beforehand (e.g. issues with Intel Corp.'s (INTC) Pentium processor IDs in Windows 2000).

While it now appears quite negligent, in the 1990s, the error of their ways would have been far less apparent to the developers writing such code to identify the operating system.

Starting with Windows 95 Microsoft had leaped from an incremental <#>.<#> naming string to a <##> string, which stood for the year. This trend continued up until Windows 2000, when another major name shift occurred. Even then, it would have been difficult to guess we would end up at Windows 8, as the next two versions of Windows had word-based titles -- XP and Vista.

But with Windows 7 Microsoft finally returned to whence it came -- the <#>.<#> OS naming scheme.

Assuming the commentators are correct, Microsoft isn't entirely out of the woods yet. Windows 10 would still match code designed to match Windows 1.0 -- although of course that would arguably require even more negligent lack of coding maintenance on a developer's part, given how old Windows 1.0 is.

We didn't find any Windows 1.0 strings explicitly listed in the open sources we checked, but there are some clauses that match, so they better be careful to update their code to avoid the default case which trims to the first digit....

if(version.StartsWith("Windows 9")) { /* 95 and 98 */ } else {

As the Great Bard once wrote, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

But that sweet smell can't disguise if the name leaves the rose covered in bugs. Windows 10 isn't exactly without potential namestring issues, but it's certainly safer than Windows 9.

Source: DailyTech

Tags: Microsoft, OSes, Windows 10, Windows 9

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