Microsoft Unveils the Official Name for "Windows 7"


"Where Do You Want to Go Today?" Maybe that old Microsoft slogan was inspired by the codenames for Windows versions past. You could travel the Midwest with a trip to " Detroit" ( Windows 95 OSR2 ) and "Memphis" (Windows 98) [corrected 10-15-2008, hat tip to reader damicatz ]. Is "Cairo" in E gypt or Southern Illinois? Either way, it's the codename for Windows NT 4.0. More recently, Microsoft's been hitting the slopes in British Columbia, with "Whistler" (Windows XP) and hitting an apres-ski bar in Whistler called "Longhorn" (Windows Vista) for a little liquid refreshment.

Well, you can put away your roadmaps: the Windows version codenamed "Windows 7" is officially called....(wait for it....) Windows 7! Ironically, the official Windows Vista blog confirmed the name for Vista's successor in a post on Columbus Day. Thus, Windows 7 will be the first version of in many years Windows not to have a codename or at least a nickname (Windows 2000 was informally known as "NT5" before it was released).

The name "Windows 7" makes sense for several reasons. Here's how Microsoft puts it:

The decision to use the name Windows 7 is about simplicity. Over the years, we have taken different approaches to naming Windows.  We've used version numbers like Windows 3.11, or dates like Windows 98, or "aspirational" monikers like Windows XP or Windows Vista.  And since we do not ship new versions of Windows every year, using a date did not make sense.  Likewise, coming up with an all-new "aspirational" name does not do justice to what we are trying to achieve, which is to stay firmly rooted in our aspirations for Windows Vista, while evolving and refining the substantial investments in platform technology in Windows Vista into the next generation of Windows.

Sounds good to me.

How far have we come down the Windows road? Here's one way to count the generations, based on user interface similarities:

First Generation: Windows 1.x
Second Generation: Windows 2.x, Windows 286, Windows 386
Third Generation: Windows 3.1, Windows for Workgroups 3.1 and 3.11, Windows NT 3.1, Windows 3.0 [added 10-15-08]
Fourth Generation: Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows NT 4.0
Fifth Generation: Windows Millennium Edition, Windows 2000, Windows XP [added 10-15-08]
Sixth Generation: Windows Vista
Seventh Generation: Windows 7

Added 10-15-08: For a slightly different take on Windows generations, see comments from reader rich5665 below .

So, what do you think? Is Microsoft making a good move by going back to its roots? Did the naming wizards in Redmond just get tired of scouring road maps for cool-sounding codenames? Hit Comment and tell us your thoughts.

Around the web