MS has found themselves in the game long enough for different marketing managers to come and go, leaving the company as a whole with a slightly embarrassing inconsistency of brand naming for Windows.
3, 3.1, 3.11, 3.2, 95, 98, 2000, XP, Vista, 7, 8, and now if the codename sticks, Blue.
Windows Blue/8.1/9/whatever is due out mid next year, which is real fast. Some early articles were trumpeting it being "yay free" ... up until you tie that in with this article, if it's 8.1 of course no one would pay for it.
Edit: Wraith was thinking along slightly similar lines to me : )