What was the code name for Windows 7?

Raymond Chen

Raymond

A retrospective on Windows code names gave Blackcomb as the code name for Windows 7. That’s not quite correct.

The code name for Windows 7 was… Windows 7.

Windows XP was code named Whistler, which was the name of a city in British Columbia best known for its ski resort, also commonly referred to as Whistler. During this time, the code name given to “The version of Windows to come after Whistler” was Blackcomb, which is the name of a second mountain in the same resort, slightly further down the road.

However, so much work had been pushed into the Blackcomb release that it was clear that it couldn’t all be done in one release cycle, so selected portions were extracted into an interim release code named Longhorn, which is the name of a bar situated between the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.

Longhorn was the code name for Windows Vista.

You might conclude, therefore, that Blackcomb was the code name for Windows 7.

But you’d be wrong.

So much work had been postponed into the Blackcomb project that it wasn’t so much a project as a wish list.

  • Whistler: Learn to play Für Elise.
  • Longhorn: Learn to play Träumerei.
  • Blackcomb: Learn to play all of Beethoven’s piano sonatas, both of Brahms’s piano concerti, and while you’re at it, Ravel’s Gaspard de la nuit.

The scope of work that was marked as “Blackcomb” was so large that it was effectively meaningless.

So it was all thrown out, and a new project started from scratch.

That project was code named Windows 7, based on the fact that Windows Vista’s programmatic version number was 6.0, and since this was the version to come next, the natural choice would be to call the next version 7.0. (Though that’s not what it ultimately shipped as.)

It was generally understood that this was just a code name, and the marketing department would give it a splashy name when the time came.

And when that time came, the marketing department decided that the splashy name was just the code name we’d been using all along.

How anticlimactic.

Windows 7 released to manufacturing ten years ago today.

 

Raymond Chen
Raymond Chen

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13 comments

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  • Avatar
    Peter Cooper Jr.

    Now you’ve got me curious if the code name for Windows 10 was “Windows 9”.

    Also, is “Blackbomb” an intentionally derrogatory term that was used internally, or is that just a typo for “Blackcomb”?

    • Raymond Chen
      Raymond Chen

      Oops, typo. But now that you made a joke out of it, I can’t just fix it or the joke won’t make sense. Eh, I fixed it. People will figure out the joke. (By the way, the code name for Windows 10 was “Threshold”.)

      • Avatar
        Arjen Krap

        This is what I explain to people:
        Windows Vista was version 6.0
        Windows 7 was 6.1 => 6 + 1 = 7
        Windows 8 was 6.2 => 6 + 2 = 8
        Windows 8.1 was 6.3 => 8 + 1 = 9 and 6.3 = 9
        That makes Windows 10 the logical successor to Windows 8.1 and 1 + 0 = 1 => There will be only one Windows version forever

    • Avatar
      Keith Patrick

      Yeah, Cairo and Longhorn had some really promising technology incubating.  But Cairo gave way to Chicago (which was pretty good IMO), while Longhorn gave way to, well, Vista (I still have a bad memory of a hidden Xbox admin account on my machine causing UAC locking me out of damn near everything….I had to email my SAM file to someone @microsoft to unlock it!)

      • Avatar
        James M Curran

        Now Raymond will have to correct this, but the rumors I heard:Cairo – So named because the ideas suggested for it were “exotic”.Chicago – Because an early demo was at a conference in Chicago, later retrofitted as “just that far to Cairo” (i.e, as Seattle to Chicago is about 1/5th the distance Seattle to Cairo,  win3 to w95 would be 1/5 the changes of win3 to Cairo)Memphis (win98a as a recall), mostly a media/audio updates, but I like the idea of it be “old world Cairo”.

  • Avatar
    Fleet Command

    “Blackcomb”? 🤷‍♀️ The majority of news outlets report “Vienna” to be Windows 7’s codename. Apparently, someone called Robert Scoble, who worked as an “evangelist” for Microsoft, said it.
    Also, not sure what “Träumerei” or “Gaspard de la nuit” are. Never heard of Ravel or Brahms before either. Quite frankly, I know as much about music terminology as Beethoven knew about the -Recipe switch of Add-WindowsCapability in PowerShell.

    • Avatar
      Sean Barnes

      There was usually a codename for the version after the one that you were currently working on, so things could be postponed to that future version. So Blackcomb was originally the version after Whistler, but Longhorn got put into the middle. As that stretched on, the plans for Blackcomb were no longer meaningful. So the next version got a new codename, Vienna. By the time Longhorn was wrapping up and planning began for the next version, the accumulated Vienna plans were also no longer relevant. So by the time Windows 7 development began, the codename was “Windows 7”.

  • Avatar
    NTAuthority

    Of course, early in-development releases of Windows 7 had the beautiful branding of ‘Windows (R) Code Name “Windows 7″‘.

  • Avatar
    Boris Zakharin

    The only time I set foot on Microsoft campus was when I interviewed for a job there in 2003 (which I did not get). There was some material there referring to the next Windows Server. I asked if that was “Blackcomb” and was told it was not. I found this curious because at the time the official story was that “Longhorn” would only be a client OS and “Blackcomb” would still be the next server release. They said that “Longhorn Server” was indeed a thing. I was pretty excited to have this bit of insider information, despite it not really affecting me in any way. I don’t remember when the existence of “Longhorn Server” was officially announced. 
    As for Windows 7, I remember some confusion about what the codename was with Vienna/Seven (splled out) often being reported together.
    Random chatter: Windows ME also had a codeename similar to its final release name (Milennium vs Milennium Edition)

    • Avatar
      Arjen Krap

      Windows Server 2008 (Longhorn Server) was not released at the same time as Windows Vista RTM. Just like Windows Server 2003/XP x64 and Windows XP x86, but different. Windows Server 2008 SP1 was the first public non-beta version and released at the same time as Windows Vista SP1. This way Windows Server 2008 and Windows Vista were build from the same code branches, unlike Windows XP x86 and Windows Server 2003/XP x64.
      However Microsoft did ran her website on Windows Server 2008 before SP1, and if I recall correctly so did a few Microsoft partners like Dell.