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February 26, 2020

New Win10 Nomenclature: 20H1 Becomes 2004

Attentive, detail-oriented installers who’ve upgraded to Build 19033.1 recently (Fast Ring Insider Preview) will have noticed an interesting change in version numbers. This now shows in winver.exe as “Version 2004” (see screencap below). As explained in the Windows Insider Program blog post “Announcing Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 19033,” there’s a reason why it’s 2004 and not 2003. Here’s the official word, quoted verbatim from that post:

Eagle-eyed Windows Insiders will notice that that as of this build, 20H1 officially shows it is version 2004. We have chosen to use 2004 as the version to eliminate confusion with any past product names (such as Windows Server 2003).

20H1 Becomes 2004.winver

Note the callout text in red, which reads “Version 2004.” This is the new 4-digit version identifier for the next Win10 version.

What’s in a name, anyway?

I get what MS is doing here. And it makes a useful sort of sense. But my suggestion would be to change up the format just a bit — perhaps to something like 20.04. Given that 2004 is a year of relatively recent memory, adding the period between the year and the month (or whatever that other bit really means) calls more attention to the dividing line between them. Then MS could explain that the notation is YY.MM (or whatever) and it would be less likely for Windows Insiders, admins, and users to get mixed up.

Otherwise, it seems to me like we’re continuing to look back into the mists of time, when XP pretty much ruled the desktop, and Windows NT (Server 2000 and 2003) more or less ruled the server side of the Windows universe. But hey! That’s just my two cents’ worth. As we march into 2021 and beyond, new version numbers will march us into the next century anyway (21H1 becomes 2103 or perhaps 2104, and 21H2 becomes 2109 or perhaps 2110). Who knows? At least we won’t have to wait too terribly long to find out. And so it goes today, here in Windows-World. Cheers!

Author: Ed Tittel

Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.

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