Windows, Mac, and Linux version naming schemes explained

What is a Pangolin, and what makes it Precise? How does Windows' most popular version earn its "XP" tag -- the "eXPerience," its "eXPonential" improvements over Windows ME?

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What did we learn?

Nobody is good at consistency in the software world, even at big, multi-national firms that make the core software for our computers. No version name is without fault, and any scheme, no matter how clever, will be dropped the moment it seems fun to go with something else. But most of all, it's increasingly rare to buy software in boxes these days, so nobody needs a name that looks good on a box. That's probably a bigger deal than you think.

Apple, Microsoft, Ubuntu, and the makers of your favorite productivity software are selling you on an ecosystem, one in which each version arrives with nothing but new features. You're not making a choice, you're upgrading. It's more for coders and acccessory makers to worry about the differences between Android 2.3 and 4.0, Gingerbread and Ice Cream Sandwich (or wonder where 3.0, Honeycomb, went off to). You? You should just know that they're working on updates, and they'll have a name just as soon as a marketing executive's 13-year-old niece thinks of a good one.

Now read this: Myths, gods, and titanic disasters: How servers really get their names ]

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