I’ve been driving cross-country since Friday and hope to be home tonight. But I wanted to address one story I’ve seen repeated across tech blogs over the past few days, that Microsoft has allegedly “confirmed” that Windows 10 is “the last version of Windows.” I think we’re taking things a little too literally here.
The latest spate of news about this topic comes courtesy of some off-hand remarks made by a single Microsoft employee during a single session at Ignite. That is, this wasn’t announced by an executive at the company, as you might expect of some major strategic shift. There wasn’t a blog post, a press release, or even a tweet. Why? Because things are evolving.
But first, the quote.
“Right now we’re releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we’re all still working on Windows 10,” Microsoft’s Jerry Nixon said during his session talk, Tiles, Notifications, and Action Center, which as you might expect is exactly where Microsoft would reveal such a thing.
The Verge says that “Microsoft employees can talk freely about future updates to Windows 10 because there’s no secret update in the works coming next,” which is interesting since there are in fact secret updates coming, codenamed Redstone. Widely reported, as it turns out. But Microsoft handed them the answer in quote form: The reason anyone is talking like this is that Microsoft is pushing a “Windows as a service” vision, which doesn’t mean “subscription service” but rather that it plans to upgrade Windows 10 going forward with both functional and security updates, plus of course bug fixes.
You know, just like it’s done with every single version of Windows. Ever.
Neowin says that Microsoft is abandoning its traditional development cycle, which is an exaggeration Microsoft should appreciate. Instead, everything is simply evolving. And just as “One Windows” isn’t something brand new, but rather an evolution of what Microsoft was already doing since Windows 8, “Windows as a service” isn’t really something new. It’s just an evolution of what it’s already been doing.
As for Microsoft, it has said this. “We aren’t speaking to future branding at this time, but customers can be confident Windows 10 will remain up-to-date and power a variety of devices from PCs to phones to Surface Hub to HoloLens and Xbox. We look forward to a long future of Windows innovations. Windows will be delivered as a service bringing new innovations and updates in an ongoing manner, with continuous value for our consumer and business customers.”
In other words, nothing to see here. Beyond the usual: things change. If it makes sense to keep updating Windows 10 and not change the brand or version number, Microsoft will do that. If it makes sense to release something called Windows 10 R2, Windows 11, or Windows Yoghurt—seriously, who cares?—then they’ll do that.
Obviously, it makes sense for Microsoft to push this notion that Windows 10 is all new. That will make reluctant Windows XP and Windows 7 users consider upgrading more quickly, since this is the new starting point. But that’s just marketing, not substance. Kind of like this story.
Windows is dead. Long live Windows 10.