Benefit to Microsoft to push everyone to latest Windows 10 version?


I have a simple question (I have asked this already on a comment in a post).

What is the “real” benefit to Microsoft to push everyone to latest Windows 10 version?

Aside from not maintaining different code-bases and allocating resources to them, what other real benefit is to Microsoft?

The question arises, because if it is important for everyone to be on latest versions, then why at first place create plethora of versions of Windows 10 (1803, 1809, 1903, 19H2 etc) every 6 months? And then keep supporting it like 18 months and so forth, and then efforts to convince everyone to move to latest version.

I sense a lot of efforts put into and I am not so sure what are they really getting out of it.

Comments (19)

19 responses to “Benefit to Microsoft to push everyone to latest Windows 10 version?”

  1. wright_is

    They need fewer developers. If they can keep ad many people as possible on the latest version, they don't need to waste time and resources on keeping the older versions going.

    Allowing 2 previous versions to be used keeps the stragglers happy and is a compromise.

    Moving forward, they won't have to support 7, 8.1, oder 10s, plus the server versions. They will only have to support 3 versions.

    That also goes for applications, they can support more modern technology, without having to worry about legacy OS versions.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to wright_is:

      So, let's just be clear here. MS are currently supporting

      Windows 8.1

      Windows Server 2012

      Windows Server 2012 R2

      Windows Server 2016

      Windows Server 2019

      Windows 10 1607 LTSB

      Windows 10 1709

      Windows 10 1803

      Windows 10 1809

      Windows 10 1809 LTSC

      Windows 10 1903

      I've left off Win7 and 2008 R2 because I'm feeling generous, and I haven't included that many of these include both x86 and x64 versions. I'm not differentiating between Home/Pro/Enterprise/Education and Workstation versions either. No fragmentation? Really?

      • epguy40

        In reply to ghostrider:

        @ghostrider: you forgot another Win10 version - Windows 10 LTSB 2015 (v1507), based on Windows 10 RTM. LTSB 2015 gets support until Oct. 2025 - I have that one installed on one of my relative's old PCs

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to ghostrider:

        Re Home/Pro/Enterprise, isn't Enterprise the full code base, Pro has a few things disabled, and Home has a lot of things disabled. If so, more a bloat issue than a code maintenance one.

        • wright_is

          In reply to hrlngrv:

          More or less, yes. Plus Enterprise has a long term support branch every year, just to complicate things. Consumer and Pro versions don't get this benefit.

          • epguy40

            In reply to wright_is:

            you mean "Home" & Pro versions? Pro is both for "consumer" and "business" use. that's why the Pro version of Win10 is bundled in both consumer and business edition ISOs for recent Win10 versions.

            and you are partly wrong about enterprise having long term support branch every year.

            the 1903/19H1 version of Win10 gets only 18 months of support, regardless of edition whether home/pro/enterprise/education (cuz Microsoft said so somewhere in their support lifecycle site as I checked myself). but the H2 versions like the upcoming 19H2 release will have 30 months of support only for education & enterprise editions

            • wright_is

              In reply to epguy40:

              There is no "Home" version, it is just Windows 10. Then there is Pro for computers aimed at "professionals", then there is the enterprise version "Enterprise", which includes a lot of extra management features that Pro doesn't get.

              As to the 19H2 that is the what I was talking about, 1809 was LTSB for Enterprise as well.

  2. MikeGalos

    You answered your own question. Your "Aside from..." sentence lists incredibly key reasons for minimizing the number of supported versions.

    As for why have new versions, which seems to be your real question, because there are still needs to be addressed in the world and capabilities for developers to use to solve new problems in new ways. Stagnation is bad for an industry that isn't ancient. And, yes, this is work for everyone involved who doesn't want to be left behind. That's the cost of not being in the hand-carved toothpick holder business.

  3. jimchamplin

    It drives user metrics and looks good on paper. Because Apple can claim adoption rates of iOS and macOS above 75%, often approaching 90%, Microsoft thinks they need that.

    It also helps to alleviate the “XP problem” where users linger on older versions and create security issues. It’s a sort of herd immunity. Think of old-version holdouts like antivaxers. They make botnets and massive worms possible by not being on a fully patched system.

    Edit: Yes, there are some valid reasons why a user needs to stay on an older OS. Incompatible software and hardware that are mission critical for certain jobs. Those situations are special. That machine simply can’t be updated or needed functionality is lost.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to jimchamplin:

      Is there really software or hardware that works on one version of Windows 10 but not the others?

      • wright_is

        In reply to lvthunder:

        Yes. Hardware starts getting left behind, because it is too old, no new drivers or the processor doesn't support needed instructions, for example.

        Limited storage is another problem. A Windows 10 Atom tablet with 16GB or 32GB of storage won't get updated, for example.

        The problem is, of course, worse going from XP/7/8 to 10 - and the hardware there is often not "PC" hardware, but things like CNC machines whose software only supports XP, for example. A "software" upgrade to get Windows 7 or 10 support includes a new CNC machine, costing high 5 or 6 figures... You are more likely to leave it running and isolate the controller PC from the network.

        We have some industrial software, where we can't even patch Windows, we have to wait for the MS security patches (let alone version upgrades) to be signed off on by the supplier - which can mean a PC is running without updates for 3 - 18 months at a time!

      • jimchamplin

        In reply to lvthunder:

        Doubt it. I was more referring to XP and 7 users in that last paragraph though. Some mission-critical software was (for some reason known only to the companies who develop the things) designed specifically and often hard-coded for a particular version of Windows.

        I have an uncle who runs a garage and one diagnostic system has software that refuses to start unless it's the exact build that it shipped with. The OEM of course shipped it with Windows Update enabled and no warning that connecting it to the interwebs would nuke the damn thing. Just a simple Windows Update would break the software!

  4. crp0908

    Most of the comments so far seem to be missing the OP's point. These comments are regurgitating the same Microsoft explanation - "there will be less fragmentation in Windows." How can there really be less fragmentation in Windows now when Microsoft currently supports patching for Windows LTSB 2015, LTSB 2016, 1703 Enterprise/Educ, 1709 Enterprise/Educ, 1803, 1809, 1809 LTSC, 1903... (did I miss any?). I'm not even going to mention Server. There are definitely more than 3 versions of Windows.

    Are they really currently maintaining fewer code bases? If so, then they should not be telling us that they can't fix a bug found in 1703 Enterprise because that same bug is fixed in 1709. There are definitely different code bases.

    I don't really have a clear answer for the OP. I would speculate that Microsoft is trying to make Windows a 'modern' OS by updating it as often or more often than other OSes such as Android and macOS, etc.

    • irfaanwahid

      In reply to crp0908:

      I tend to agree with you. There is no clear answer to this. In the race of making Windows modern (which I also believe so is the intention), they are creating a lot "work" for themselves, and I believe the "work" they are creating for themselves has no enough benefits or ROI to it.

      I mean, once a year upgrade cycle would also do the job, instead of creating two code bases every 6 months, and maintain them, push sales force to sell newer version of Windows etc.

      In fact, I personally never had issues with 3 year upgrade cycle.. but 1 year would do too.

  5. lvthunder

    You answered your own question. not maintaining different code bases is the real benefit. It's also part of why companies like selling software as a subscription. It means everyone can be on the same version.

    As to why they are creating new versions all the time. Some of it is job security. If they aren't constantly iterating Windows they can't justify the number of people they have working on it. Plus some people (mostly enterprises) rent Windows so the thought is if there isn't anything new people will complain.

    • Tony Barrett

      In reply to lvthunder:

      Remember, Windows 10 is just a brand name - there are many different versions of it, and each one NEEDS it's own code base to build/patch from. MS are maintaining more Windows versions than ever right now, and there's more fragmentation than ever, despite what they say.

      MS have paid the price with this unsustainable upgrade program more than once, and if it's just so they can boast they deliver two upgrades a year rather than one like Android/iOS, then they deserve to have it all blow up in their faces.

  6. simont

    Less version of Windows to support. So less money to spend on testing different versions, fewer patches as there are fewer versions of Windows.

  7. luthair

    I'd say the real reason is that they can then loudly announce that their Windows as a service strategy is working, pat themselves on the back and collect bonuses.