Why There Won’t Be a Windows 9

John Cook tells this wonderful story about Windows 10:

The version of Windows following 8.1 will be Windows 10, not Windows 9. Apparently this is because Microsoft knows that a lot of software naively looks at the first digit of the version number, concluding that it must be Windows 95 or Windows 98 if it starts with 9.

Many think this is stupid. They say that Microsoft should call the next version Windows 9, and if somebody’s dumb code breaks, it’s their own fault.

People who think that way aren’t billionaires.

Open source has generally been horrible about this type of thing, with the major exception of the Linux kernel, because Linus’ attitude is very different:

> Are you saying that pulseaudio is entering on some weird loop if the
> returned value is not -EINVAL? That seems a bug at pulseaudio.

[redacted]

It's a bug alright - in the kernel. How long have you been a
maintainer? And you *still* haven't learnt the first rule of kernel
maintenance?

If a change results in user programs breaking, it's a bug in the
kernel. We never EVER blame the user programs. How hard can this be to
understand?

Note the very different attitude of the glibc developers, who broke Flash Player for their users and said it was all Adobe’s fault. Technically, yes, Adobe was abusing the system a bit, but it takes a special level of nerdiness to say “well, I will just break people’s youtube because we are technically correct.”

(This is why we need managers: to tell geeks to cut that sort of shit out.)

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2 thoughts on “Why There Won’t Be a Windows 9

  1. I think this compares apples & oranges a bit. The bug fixed in glibc was an actual bug (albeit “only” with [quite serious] performance implications) which, if left unfixed, would have caused loss of money; whereas skipping a version number comes at virtually no cost. Breaking Flash is also much less of a big deal than it initially sounds – it’s trivially fixable for Adobe, and updates probably rolled out pretty soon.

    For Windows 9, on the other hand, a lot of software would have gone unfixed forever, since the code using the sloppy behaviour is probably mostly in no longer maintained, internal business software written in Java and VB6 (I remember the exact situation where this bug would appear crop up in VB code). As a consequence, companies would have refused to switch to Windows 9, which is obviously not good news for Microsoft.

    • For some users flash, was broken for months! I cannot believe that this is a worthwhile cost for the small performance gain (some improvements on some microbenchmark on some processors were all that this change had going for it). To say that slightly slower memcpy would cost money is wild speculation. Broken flash certainly cost Fedora users (rightfully so, by the way).

      In this case, it was “dumb and dumber” as Adobe then dragged their feet on fixing it.

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