Will Windows 10 really be the last version of Windows?

As someone who is always excited to try out a new version of Windows, learning that Windows 10 will be the last time I get to experience a new release of the popular operating system, with everything it entails, is disconcerting. Is this an alternate reality that we are living in?

The news comes from Microsoft developer evangelist Jerry Nixon, who, at the software giant's Ignite conference earlier this week, said the following: "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". And, yes, it is the end of Windows as we all know it.

If you read carefully, you will understand that what Nixon actually means is that Microsoft views Windows 10 as an operating system that will get all the updates, and attention, for the foreseeable future. The software giant will keep adding and changing things on an ongoing basis; development will not end after hitting the RTM milestone. This is the Windows-as-a-service vision mentioned earlier this year.

And, in a statement, Microsoft seems to confirm 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."

Of course, things can change, but this does not seem to be one of those make-it-as-we-go-along plans. Microsoft even killed Patch Tuesday as we know it, announcing that consumers will get - if needed, that is - updates every day, not just every second Tuesday of every month.

This fast update cycle is ideal in the consumer market, while for businesses Patch Tuesday will remain intact until the new roll-out schedule is tried and proven.

Microsoft is not saying anything about the cost that consumers will face. Will future updates be available for free in the years to come after Windows 10 launches? Or will consumers have to pay for the privilege, similarly to how Office 365 works? What about businesses? There are lots of unknowns here.

It is a long-term vision for Windows. We do not know any other details yet, but suffice to say that Microsoft seems to be on the right track. The consumer market is changing faster than Windows could normally evolve - every couple of years - and by continuously improving the foundation laid with Windows 10 Microsoft stands a better chance of keeping up with the rest of the pack, and even getting in front.

Microsoft certainly needs a boost from somewhere on the PC and mobile fronts. On the PC front, older versions of Windows dominate the scene, with the six year-old Windows 7 leading the pack. (I have explained why Windows 10 matters and why it is so good for Microsoft and the Windows landscape in a previous article.)

Meanwhile, on the mobile front, consumers do not find Windows Phone nor Windows 8.x on tablets nowhere near as attractive as Android and iOS. Something needs to be done, and Windows-as-a-service is one way that Microsoft is trying to fix the problems.

For folks like me, who have been used to trying out a new Windows release every couple of years, it will be a big change. But, in the end, we all have to get with the times, and get used to trying out new things more often.

For early adopters, it is a dream come true. We will just have to wait and see whether expectations match reality, after Windows 10 launches this summer.

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