Against the Odd? Microsoft Skips the Number 9, Releases Windows 10

By Microsoft Corporation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Does Microsoft have counting problems? From Windows 8 (or Windows 8.1 to be exact), the company somewhat surprised the world by announcing Windows 10 in the company’s official blog right before October started. Windows 10 is apparently the realization of Microsoft’s goal of unifying its operating systems across different devices as one poster for the new operating system carried the tagline “One Product Family, One Platform, One Store.”

But what happened to Windows 9? From 8 to 10? What made Microsoft skip that number right before 10? There are many speculations about the unexpected naming of Microsoft latest version of the ever popular Windows operating system; they are enumerated below.

  • The number 9 is unlucky. The Japanese consider 9 as an unlucky number mainly because the Japanese word for it (苦, kyu) sounds like pain, suffering, or distress. Superstition even in the tech world is nothing new. It’s more notable in hi-tech Asia but American and European tech firms are certainly not completely rejecting superstitious beliefs. This could be compared to how many skyscrapers don’t have the 13th floor or how a number of Chinese companies are averse to using the number 4 in their products or buildings. It’s pure superstition but it’s not really that difficult to understand.
  • Windows 8.1 was Windows 9. Back in April 2013, as an April’s Fools post, Pete Babb of Infoworld jokingly predicted that Microsoft will be skipping Windows 9 to match the Apple OS X (X being 10). However, the supposedly humorous post had some facts in it allegedly picked by Infoworld’s insiders in Microsoft. It is said that Windows 9 appeared to be so successful that it may have represented a leap bigger than just going from eight to nine. Babb quoted Microsoft PR rep Cheryl Tunt to have said that “The Windows 9 internal beta was a phenomenal success…I mean it blew Windows 8 out of water…As such, work is now getting under way on Windows 10, which should see a public release.”
  • Pronounced as “nein” in German, nine can mean “no.” The superstitious execs at Microsoft may have thought that it’s inauspicious to introduce their latest offering with a word that sounds negative, a word commonly used to express rejection or refusal. This is obviously an “irrational reason” but you can’t blame businessmen to resort to superstition when they are trying to keep their business up while getting some inspiration from the undeniable success of Chinese businesses that have no qualms in being superstitious.
  • Microsoft .wants to show a rather big leap in Windows and to leave the infamy of Windows 8 behind. Enough of the illogical and irrational, this is perhaps what Microsoft really wants to achieve—to distance the latest Windows iteration from the misgivings or poor showing of its predecessors. Although not completely proven, Windows 8 is believed by many to be a failure. At the least, it failed to measure up to the success of Windows XP or even that of Windows 7. That’s why Microsoft’s move to skip the number 9 is considered as a marketing ploy to convey the message that the latest Windows version is not similar to what happened between the “upgrading” from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

By w:Microsoft [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Obviously, the most probable and logical reason for skipping Windows 9 is the last item mentioned above. Microsoft is not known for being superstitious. They even have Microsoft Office 13, bearing the number 13 which is a number more greatly associated with bad luck in the West. Microsoft’s intentions can actually be inferred from the official blog post announcing Windows 10. The idea is close to what CNet is suggesting. Skipping Windows 9 could indeed be Microsoft’s marketing move.

Windows 10, as Microsoft puts it, is the first step of a whole new generation of Windows. It is expected to run across a broader range of devices. It also comes with new features. Some of the more notables are the “apps” in windowed form, improved multitasking and support for multiple desktops, an updated Command prompt, and updates to the touch interface. Also, the Start button is reincarnated in the latest Windows version.

File:Windows 8 Launch - Steve Ballmer.jpg

By Dell Inc. (Windows 8 Launch – Steve Ballmer) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

So what do you think of the all new Windows? Is it a worthy upgrade or will it suffer the same fate Windows 8 suffered? Could it really deliver the kind of unified operating system Microsoft envisions it to deliver? Or will the number skipping be limited to merely creating a buzz instead of representing a real breakthrough for Microsoft’s staple product?