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The official Windows 7 name: Windows 7

Microsoft is going retro with its operating system naming conventions. The company announced yesterday that Windows Vista’s successor will be called Windows 7.

Windows 7 has been the project’s code name for a while now, so from that perspective, the name makes sense. But as TechCrunch’s Jason Kinkaid points out, “I can’t wait for hordes of customers to start asking if they somehow missed Windows 1 through 6.”

To be fair, Windows 1 through 3 did exist, until Microsoft decided to name its OS releases after years (Windows 95, 98 and 2000). Then the company abandoned that approach and opted for seemingly arbitrary names, such as XP and Vista. Now they’re going back to the numbers, and so far the reaction has been positive.

Microsoft blogger Mary Jo Foley says that going back to numbers will help disassociate the new OS from Vista in the minds of users. And Robert Anderson, CTO of Microsoft partner Digipede Technologies, says he’s thrilled by the new name.

“I hope this is the end of the trend of seemingly arbitrary names interspersed by release years,” he writes on his blog, Expert Texture.

People are making a big deal about the Windows 7 name, but the real issue will be how the OS performs. Vista has been a nightmare, and if Windows 7 doesn’t show real improvement, the next OS that customers buy en masse could have a very different name … like, say, Mac OS X

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