Windows 10: Microsoft's Last Operating System? - InformationWeek
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Windows 10: Microsoft's Last Operating System?

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.

[Windows 10, HoloLens, Office: Microsoft Details Its Vision]

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.

(Image: Microsoft)

(Image: Microsoft)

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.

[Did you miss any of the InformationWeek conference in Las Vegas last month? Don't worry: We have you covered. Check out what our speakers had to say and see tweets from the show. Let's keep the conversation going.]

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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MarkB395
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MarkB395,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/12/2015 | 12:49:28 AM
Question for the Author...
So does this, at least in your opinion, seem to be a "rolling release" like what some Linux distros use (like Debian)?
Whoopty
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Whoopty,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2015 | 7:26:49 AM
I wonder
Could anyone explain why this is possible? Why is it that with new big innovations in the future, Microsoft will be able to layer them over the top of Windows 10 without needing a ground up rebuild like it's done with previous OS releases? 
C_Gauth
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C_Gauth,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/12/2015 | 7:34:06 AM
Re: I wonder
Well in fact they can't. The first few updates will just be service packs, then in a few years there will be a big "update" and that will be the ground up build you are thinking about...
C_Gauth
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C_Gauth,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/12/2015 | 7:39:08 AM
Home license
Well this will be interesting, if M$ sells the OS with computers and just keeps people up to date, then it will be great, if you only get 1year service with a new PC, we'll then that will finally be the boost that Linux needs to make it into the desktop realm in a material way, not to mention the boost to Apple sales. I am betting on the first, but we will see......
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/12/2015 | 12:00:47 PM
Re: I wonder
On a more basic level, we need to know more about "service upgrades" and changes to the service from an IT point of view, i.e., cost, time, compatability, etc.
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
5/13/2015 | 4:39:29 PM
Re: I wonder
"...This model will be a thing of the past with Windows 10, which will be the last major version of Windows."


I am really having trouble believing this ! No more OS's after this ?  Does this mean the end of MS as a software company ?  Meaning they will focus on the Cloud and devices ?
Technocrati
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Technocrati,
User Rank: Ninja
5/13/2015 | 4:53:30 PM
Re: I wonder
Since the upgrade is free, not sure I want to be so early in the cycle.  I am already in "update hell" with my 8.1 version, I can only imagine.....
Kelly22
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Kelly22,
User Rank: Strategist
5/13/2015 | 5:34:28 PM
Re: I wonder
This isn't to say that Microsoft won't continue to update its OS. That will still be a focus going forward. Rather we'll see Windows 10 updated with smaller incremental innovations and fixes rather than massive product launches. There's a lot of hype around Windows 10 now, but we won't be seeing the same kind of excitement for a future "Windows 11" or "Windows 20". In terms of big numbered rollouts, this is the last one.
Kelly22
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50%
Kelly22,
User Rank: Strategist
5/13/2015 | 5:38:04 PM
Re: I wonder
I can understand that. I'm pretty excited to download the final product when it launches, but there's little doubt in my mind that it will have some flaws. The longer you wait (within that first year of free upgradability), the more likely it is those issues will be addressed before you download. I'll be in the early cycle myself; after running the technical preview, the finished product will be an improvement to what I'm using now.
nomii
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nomii,
User Rank: Ninja
5/15/2015 | 6:34:12 AM
Re: I wonder
Stating the release as last by MS also shows the confidence they have on the success and user acceptance of their new operating system. Because MS would definitely like to end on a high note and because this version will remain as a base for their future products for quite a few years. So they would definitely that like all their users would end up using this OS instead of XP, 7 and 8.
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