Microsoft Windows 10, which will be launched for PCs this summer, will be the Redmond-based tech firm’s last Windows OS version, said Jerry Nixon, a Microsoft employee and developer evangelist, at the company’s ongoing Ignite conference in Chicago.
“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.” That was the message from Microsoft employee Jerry Nixon, speaking at the company’s Ignite conference this week.
Nixon said Microsoft secretly made its base for Windows 10 when it launched Windows 8.1 last year, and that with Windows 10 it will be pushing out regular updates to the OS instead of introducing new versions. It’s all just Windows 10. While it immediately sounds like Microsoft is killing off Windows and not doing future versions, the reality is a little more complex. The future is “Windows as a service.”
Microsoft has been discussing the idea of Windows as a service, but the company hasn’t really explained exactly how that will play out with future versions of Windows. That might be because there won’t really be any future major versions of Windows in the foreseeable future. Microsoft has altered the way it engineers and delivers Windows, and the initial result is Windows 10. Instead of big releases, there will be regular improvements and updates. Part of this is achieved by splitting up operating system components like the Start Menu and built-in apps to be separate parts that can be updated independently to the entire Windows core operating system. Microsoft revealed that Patch Tuesdays will be abolished, and the update cycle will be moved to a 24×7 one. Users could either opt-in for slow rollout, meaning receiving updates in bundles, or a fast rollout, where they would receive updates as soon as they are released. It’s a big undertaking, but it’s something Microsoft has been actively working on for Windows 10 to ensure it spans across multiple device types.
While we’ll witness the results in the coming months, Microsoft is already in launch mode for a number of its apps and services that power Windows 10. The software company is testing preview builds of Window 10 with willing participants, and apps like Xbox and Mail have been engineered for regularly monthly updates. Even Office for Windows 10 will also get regular updates, much like a mobile version, instead of the big bang release every few years.
“Recent comments at Ignite about Windows 10 are reflective of the way 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,” confirmed a Microsoft spokesperson when approached by The Verge for confirming Nixon’s comments. “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.”
Microsoft is already said to have engineered apps like Xbox, Mail and even Office for regular monthly updates in Windows 10. The results will however will be reflected after a few months. The firm has also been testing the OS with Windows Insider participants in the form of different OS version builds both for PC/laptops and mobile devices.
With Windows 10, it’s time to start thinking of Windows as something that won’t see a big launch or major upgrade every few years anymore. Much like how Google’s Chrome browser gets updated regularly with version numbers nobody really pays attention to, Microsoft’s approach will likely result in a similar outcome. This is really the idea of Windows as a service, and the notion that Windows 10 could be the last major version of Windows. Microsoft could opt for Windows 11 or Windows 12 in future, but if people upgrade to Windows 10 and the regular updates do the trick then everyone will just settle for just “Windows” without even worrying about the version number.
It is worth mentioning that while Windows 10 is due to arrive for PCs by this summer, the OS will be released for mobiles, tablets, HoloLens, and the Xbox One at some point later this year.