The increasingly complex Kremlinology surrounding Windows

(If you prefer videos, here's a video version of basically the same question.)

Everybody wants to know what the Windows team is up to, and the lack of official information won't stop them.

As an example of the extreme Kremlinology surrounding any future version of Windows, when Steve Ballmer in May 2011 referred to the next generation of Windows as Windows 8:

As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8.

ZOMG! The next version of Windows is officially named Windows 8! How do I know? Because Steve Ballmer said "Windows 8" in a sentence, and he wouldn't possibly have said it if it wasn't the official name chosen by the marketing department!

Or, as it turns out, he was just using its current code name.

I wonder if these people also carefully dissect how many centimeters apart all the executives are standing when they appear on stage together, in order to determine their relative strengths within the organization.

(This sort of Kremlinology continues to day. Somebody took a leaked document, found a product name in it, and concluded that the code name "confirm[ed] the name of the OS." Psst, it's just a code name.)

Comments (20)
  1. Bradley says:

    “Kremlinology”, had to look that one up.

  2. Ryan Ries says:

    Much better than the alternative, which is for no one to care what you’re working on.

  3. IanBoyd says:

    In fairness, when the CEO of Microsoft refers to the next version as Windows 8, when the current version is Windows 7, it isn’t a very big stretch to think the next version of Windows is going to be called Windows 8. Granted, we were still in the world where you had 2 -> 3 -> 3.1 -> NT 3.1 -> 3.5 -> 4 -> 2000 -> XP -> Vista -> 7. So there is no guarantee that Microsoft would now settle on version numbers. But what kind of source should we accept when the CEO isn’t a a credible source.

    I do wish there was a return to “named” Windows; but i heard a rumor [on the Windows Blog, along with a MS produced YouTube video]( that Windows 10 is the last “version” of Windows (“where version numbers will no longer matter”).

    Who are you going to trust, a blogger, or a CEO?

    1. Bradley says:

      I have to imagine that at some point, the marketing people at Microsoft will get bored of the number “10” and start pushing to change it to something more cool, hip, with-it, or whatever the kids are saying these days that means “good”.

      1. cheong00 says:

        Btw, at least it won’t be caused by an April Fool vote.

    2. xcomcmdr says:

      Windows 10, version XXXX….
      I like Windows 10 and understand the logic behind it’s development strategy, but it’s still not as exciting as Windows “vNext”, with a lot of changes in it, and a new name, like Windows 7 or Windows Vista

    3. SimonRev says:

      Well, as far as I can tell, version 10 is the last version that an OS can reach. MacOS has been on version X for what, 20 years now? Windows skipped 9 to go straight to 10. I expect Linux will get to version 10 in three or four more decades and stop there as well.

      Expect in the year 2900 to be using Winux version 10.99.999.99.18

      1. BZ says:

        There are at least two products (not OS) that stopped at 11, X11 and IE 11. Oh and the iPhone just skipped version 9 too.

      2. Joshua says:

        Would you care for 10.99.65535.1024?

      3. 12BitSlab says:

        NCR’s 32 bit mainframe dubbed Criterion had an OS VRX (Virtual Resource Executive). The last version of that where I personally worked on it was VRX 11. VRX 12 shipped but the company I worked for at the time had already converted to something else.

  4. pc says:

    I distinctly remember the moment when I realized that version numbers were not something I was ever going to make any sense of. It was the release of Internet Explorer 4.01a with Service Pack 1.

    Each “minor release” had added further text to the version number. The progression went “4”, “4.01”, “4.01a”, and then finally “4.01a with Service Pack 1”.

    And if I recall correctly, it stayed at that version number for quite some time, even as additional patches were released.

    I can’t imagine being excited about finding out the *version number* of an upcoming release of a product. I’m much more likely to get excited about what the features will be, and when the expected release date is. But what’s the exciting fact about knowing that after “7” is going to come “8”?

    1. Les says:

      And after version 8 comes 9. Oh wait….

  5. smf says:

    Why is your marketing department so slow at coming up with names?

    1. Chris says:

      I’m guessing a lot of complex stuff that can be summed up as “legalities” and “internationalization”.

      1. bmm6o says:

        Don’t discount the amount of time it takes to determine the correct placement of “.Net”, “Home Edition”, “Office” and “For Windows”

      2. smf says:

        You mean in case Vista means something rude? They couldn’t predict the effect they’d have on the word of course.

        You’d kind of hope by now marketing would realise they have only ever gotten in the way.

        They should go to Windows 10 Server & then turn out the lights.

    2. Mark (The Other Mark) says:

      It’s likely that at least some of these leaks are test balloons for the new name. If people make fun of it, it’s just an internal code name.

  6. cheong00 says:

    [I wonder if these people also carefully dissect how many centimeters apart all the executives are standing when they appear on stage together, in order to determine their relative strengths within the organization. ]

    I remember some “Money” type of magazine actually did try to figure out the “change of power of staffs in the company” from “difference of relative distance of these staffs from where the CEO stands” when taking public photos in various time, so maybe.

  7. GL says:

    The video is out much earlier than the entry is!

  8. DWalker07 says:

    “You ought to expect”? That’s a weird phrase….

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