Over the years I have noticed a lot about “the future of Windows”. Back in 2012 it was clear. Thick client gone and instead we would have Windows RT with Universal Windows Applications from the store that would run on PCs, tablets, and phones.
It didn’t quite turn out like that. The next stage was Windows 10. The last version of Windows. This came with updates twice a year, several different maintenance cycles, and update options. A thing that has dwindled into a series of partially finished interface changes including both a settings app, a control panel and several remaining MMC components. Added to this are features that appear one year and disappear the next year.
Then the future of Windows was Windows 10 S. High performance and safe. Store applications only. People who had the misfortune of having Windows 10 S “on by default” quickly “upgraded” to Windows 10 when they found there was nothing they wanted in the Windows Store. This morphed into Windows 10 in S Mode. Which was still Windows 10 S but with an on/off switch.
Next, we have the return of a 2012 favourite. Windows 10 on ARM. More accurately Windows 10 on Qualcomm. It looks like Windows 10 but isn’t really something for the mainstream. The usage case seems a convoluted explanation of long battery life, thin design, and no fans.
Then we have Windows 10 X. It’s “killer feature” was dual screen devices only. Except that now it’s for any screen. It’s called Windows but may not look like Windows. It may run Windows applications, or it may not. It could run applications in an emulation or VM.
Then we have Windows Cloud. A subscription Windows that is in addition to some client that allows you to run some kind of virtual PC in Azure which will then allow you to use Windows programs that you can’t use if you have a PC with Windows on it.
I use Windows every day, at home, at work and in other places. Most users never think about “the future of Windows”. They have a vague idea it should run any app that says it needs Windows. The emphasis from Microsoft seems to make things that use the Windows name that may not run the applications people expect to be able to run with the performance they expect.
Windows 10 doesn’t seem the last version of Windows. I still don’t know what the future of Windows is. The most worrying thing is I don’t believe Microsoft do either.