Windows 10 = Windows Vista + 4.

People are asking me “OMG.. as an IT Pro, will I have to learn a whole new world with Windows 10?”

While it’s true that Windows 10 isn’t out yet, I can more or less say the following with a straight face:

“Windows 10 is really Windows Vista with some spit and polish, just like Windows 7 was, and just like Windows 8 and 8.1 is.”

Now, when Windows 10 ships, Microsoft’s marketing machine might declare that this is a whole new ballgame.. but, it’s really not from an INTERNAL perspective.

When Vista came out.. THAT was a whole new ballgame. When Vista came out the major version of Windows changed to 6.0, where Windows XP was version 5.0. Vista gave us a whole new model for Group Policy, (runs as a service instead of a process), updated the Eventing System, gutted / replaced the Control Panel and more and more and more.

Vista was Windows’ Big Bang.

So, let’s check out the version number then. Where would you see this version number? Go to any command prompt, and type VER.

Here’s what it looks like with Windows 7: http://screencast.com/t/sbhDrhNf

So let’s break it down:

  • Vista was version 6.0.
  • Windows 7 was version 6.1.
  • Windows 8 was version 6.2.
  • Windows 8.1 Update 1 was version 6.3.

Annd.. What do you think Windows 10 will be? (At least, what is it right now in Preview?)

Here’s what it looks like with Windows 10 Preview: http://screencast.com/t/eYUxZ4Ma

That’s right: Windows 10 is just version 6.4

If you want to see all the versions of Windows shipping, you can see this tech note:
http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/windows/desktop/ms724832(v=vs.85).aspx

So, Vista was the big bang to get to version 6.0.

Windows 7 made many fine tuned improvements to get to 6.1.

Windows 8 had a new “shell” or look and feel to get to 6.2.
Windows 8.1 had an updated shell to get to 6.3.

And.. Windows 10.. once again, will have .. yet another an updated shell to get us to 6.4.

I’m NOT saying there wont be other neato stuff shipping in Windows 10.

I could make some predictions. For instance, Windows Server 2012 R2 has “single instance storage” for files. I’m going out on a limb here, and guessing that Windows 10 will ship with that feature. So if you have the same HAPPYBIRD.JPG 283 times on your machine, you only have to pay for it “once” in storage. (Again: No insider knowledge, just guessing.)

But that’s not a major change.

Heck, if you look at the handful of newest Group Policy Admin Templates settings for Windows 10 Preview, you can see that internally, the “Friendly / Displayname” is still “Windows 8.1 Update 2”: http://screencast.com/t/pPH7tTF8qR

That basically proves that Windows 10 wont be an “IT Pro Game Changer.”

What you learn / learned for Windows Vista, 7, 8, 8.1 and 8.1 Update 1 are going to still be valid for Windows 10.

So, if Windows Vista was the real game changer, why aren’t we all still using Vista? If you ask me, Vista’s failure was a twofold problem:

  • Problem 1: The hardware that it was running on wasn’t ready for it. The existing crop of PCs running Windows XP just didn’t have enough oomph for…
  • Problem 2: Vista did a lot, a lot, a LOTTTTT of disk writes.

So since Vista was writing all the time (basically, not optimized very well).. and the PCs it was running on were underpowered, you had this one / two combination that made people perceive Vista was “bad”. It wasn’t “bad”.. it was awesome, and you’re still using it, except now it’s optimized as Windows 7 and 8 and running on newer hardware.

So.. Yes, I’m saying it: You’re really running Vista + 1, Vista + 2 or Vista +3 today. And you’re loving it.

As a final quasi-related thing here… what about all this nonsense that was posted on Reddit and widely quoted about WHY Windows 10 (in name) jumped from Windows 8 to 10:

“Microsoft dev here, the internal rumors are that early testing revealed just how many third-party products that had code of the form:

if(version.StartsWith(“Windows 9″))

{ /* 95 and 98 */

} else {

This type of code is pretty rare for real Windows32 applications and MSI installers. Typical Windows32 and MSI installers look for VERSION NUMBER like we talked about.

But in Java land, looking for “Starts with Windows 9” turns out to be reasonably common. If you click on https://searchcode.com/?q=startswith+windows+9  you’ll see lots of open source examples where Java is looking for Starts with “Windows 9.”

Crazy. Thanks to John S. of the GPanswers.com list to show me these examples.

Lastly, if you want to dive into this idea a little more from some other angles, I found this almost perfect article from Burke Holland in Information Week:

http://www.informationweek.com/software/operating-systems/windows-10-os-x-lies-damn-lies-and-version-numbers/a/d-id/1316309

-Jeremy Moskowitz, Group Policy MVP