After Windows 10 launches, future operating system updates will come from Microsoft as smaller incremental fixes instead of widely publicized launches.
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We've seen and heard a lot of hype surrounding the upcoming rollout of Windows 10, and with good reason. Not only is this promised to be the best iteration of Windows yet, but its launch marks the final numbered release of Microsoft's flagship OS.
Don't worry, this does not indicate the end of Windows updates -- quite the contrary. Among the many changes promised in Windows 10 is the availability of "Windows as a Service," a strategic change in how Microsoft delivers new features to customers.
Microsoft has built new versions of Windows every few years, a tradition that began with the original Windows and evolved to include Windows 98, Windows 2000, and Windows XP, all the way through the Windows 8.1. Microsoft delivered a wealth of updates in each product and users invested in new iterations as needed.
This model will be a thing of the past with Windows 10, which will be the last major version of Windows.
In speaking at last week's Ignite conference, Microsoft developer Jerry Nixon noted that "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," reports The Independent.
After Windows 10 is released sometime this summer, all future updates will be delivered on an ongoing basis. This means customers will be able to receive new features as they are available rather than having to wait for the next major version of Windows to launch.
This strategy is nothing new to the tech space. Plenty of companies already offer smaller, more frequent updates for software, apps, and browsers to customers over the Internet. This model brings continuous value to customers without requiring much effort from them to download new features.
The decision to deliver Windows as a service is a major change that has tremendous implications for Microsoft's future earnings and for how the company develops its customer relationships going forward.
Microsoft's financials have historically fluctuated in accordance with new product announcements, as reported on Seeking Alpha. This situation meant that revenue skyrocketed when new offerings were introduced and declined during dull periods, like the summer months.
Now, the company's earnings should prove more consistent over time as customers continue to pay to use Windows. Microsoft is making a hard push to boost the appeal of Windows 10, which will be available as a free upgrade to users of Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1. Soon-to-be-released features were demonstrated during its recent Ignite and Build conferences.
The new service-based strategy for Windows is another sign that Microsoft is catching up with other modern technology companies. In the years following Satya Nadella's appointment to CEO, the new leader has not only emphasized the importance of cloud and mobile, but the power of being a services company.
Its decision to deliver Windows as a service, with smaller incremental updates, does not mean Microsoft has a lack of major feature rollouts on the horizon. The mobile version of Windows 10 will be released after the new OS appears on desktops, and we'll also be on the lookout for support of new technologies like HoloLens.
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Kelly Sheridan is Associate Editor at Dark Reading. She started her career in business tech journalism at Insurance & Technology and most recently reported for InformationWeek, where she covered Microsoft and business IT. Sheridan earned her BA at Villanova University. View Full Bio
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