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Windows 10 Will Be the Last Major Microsoft OS Release

Microsoft has alluded to it for some time but when COO Kevin Turner gave his annual pep talk to partners today, he said in no uncertain terms that the launch of Windows 10 will be the last major new release of the operating system.

Speaking at Microsoft's Worldwide Partners Conference, taking place this week in Orlando, Fla., Turner said the move to more continuous upgrades means the company is officially moving away from its model of releasing substantial new versions of Windows every three years. "This will be the last monolithic release we have that was built around the three-year upgrade cycle," Turner said. "We will continually be improving the product."

Does that mean there will be no Windows 11, Windows 12, etc.? While Microsoft hasn't explained how it'll number or name these more frequent upgrades, it would be a safe bet that those with bug fixes and just a handful of new features will be point releases. Upgrades with more significant feature sets could get new version numbers much like Apple does with iOS and MacOS X. Hence, a Windows 10.1 followed by Windows 10.2, etc. appears a likely scenario for point releases. It also wouldn't be surprising to see Microsoft downplay those version numbers over time.

What remains to be seen is the business model for Windows moving forward. Will Windows as a service mean customers over time must pay to receive continuous upgrades? Customers that have become accustomed to free operating systems on other device platforms may be reluctant to pay a subscription fee for Windows, particularly consumers. One possible route Microsoft could go is to have a bare bones starter edition that's free and premium versions that are subscription based. It could also be tied to other subscription-based offerings, notably Office 365.

Microsoft's shift to the new Windows-as-a-service model is a likely reason the company is taking a different low-key approach to this launch. Rather than hosting a major event, Microsoft is having distributed celebrations.

Turner and others have noted that Windows 95 hit RTM 20 years ago today. The Windows 95 launch event, which took place in August 1995 on the Redmond campus outdoors with the rights to the Rolling Stones' "Start Me Up" and Jay Leno serving as master of ceremonies, was a major media spectacle.

As Microsoft sets to kick off delivering Windows as a service moving forward, a new way of introducing it and generating interest makes sense.

 

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 07/15/2015 at 12:09 PM


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