Windows: The name game

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

Q. I know this is an unusual question, but do you know why Microsoft names its versions of Windows as it does? There just doesn't seem to be any pattern to it and I wondered if perhaps I'm missing something. Thanks, Mr. M.

A. Going way, way back to the primordial DOS era, Micro Soft Disk Operating System (MS-DOS) was originally licensed from Seattle Consumer Products’ Quick and Dirty Operating System (QDOS). MS-DOS, introduced in 1981, had no graphical user interface (GUI), so there were no Desktop icons to click, nor any of the fancy-shmancy graphical technologies we have come to know and love/hate (your choice). We instructed our computers to perform various tasks by typing in text-based commands on what was called a command line or DOS prompt.

The Windows name derived from the new operating system (Windows 1.0) that featured framed content, like a window. The concept was revolutionary at the time. The Windows name remained and the number or name following “Windows” is how one identified each version. This is where the plot thickens.

Microsoft used a numeric scheme for versions 1.0 through the time that it released its New Technology (NT) version, Windows NT 4.0, in July 1993.

For a brief period of time thereafter, Microsoft identified each version by the year of release, such as Windows 95 in August 1995, followed by Windows 98, 2000 and Millennium Edition (ME). Windows 2000, released in December 1999, was designed for business computers, while Windows ME, released in September 2000, was intended for home users.

Next up was Windows XP, released in August 2001. The “XP” was extracted from the word “eXPerience.” (What were they thinking?) XP enjoyed a long and successful run until January 2007, when Vista escaped. According to Microsoft, Vista was so named because, “At the end of the day what you’re trying to get to is your own personal Vista.” Puleeeeze! Ultimately, Microsoft returned to a numeric naming convention with Windows 7, released in October 2009, which will be followed by Windows 8 later this year.

According to Microsoft, Windows 7 is the seventh version of Windows since Windows 95. That sounds peachy, but it's actually the 10th version if you count Windows 1.0 to 3.1, but “Windows 10” apparently didn't have the same same ring to it. I suspect there was also concern in Redmond that users might get it confused with Apple's OS 10.

Q. I'm in and out of many Microsoft Word files every day. Is there a way to save all open files at once or must I access each one and click File > Save, or the Save button, one at a time?

A. If you want to save several Microsoft Word documents at the same time, hold down the Shift key before you click File > Save. Note that the Save option becomes Save All. Unless the files have never been saved previously, everything will be saved in one swell foop.

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