Since its launch in 1985, Microsoft has released nine major versions of Windows, spanning from Windows all the way through to Windows 10 (Windows 9 was skipped). More than 34 years later, Windows looks quite different, but is still somewhat familiar with key elements that have remained consistent in spite of improved computing power and a consumer shift from mouse and keyboard to touch screen. For example, the initial Windows versions (1.0 through to 3.11) were merely graphical shells running on MS-DOS, but Windows 95’s introduced impressive features such as the Taskbar, Start Menu, and Windows Explorer which have remained part of the product ever since.
The current Windows 10 could be the last version of Windows under the company's previous approach to product releases. Moving forward, you shouldn’t expect any new version of Windows such as Windows 11, Windows 12, etc. Instead, the operating system will likely be called simply “Windows.”
As users continue to embrace the on-the-go lifestyle, Microsoft has decided to adopt operating system version names that support the shift from PCs to mobile devices. Officially, Windows is now on a “service” model, and the current Windows 10 could be the last named version. However, Microsoft will continue to release Windows 10 updates before it’s completely phased out. Ostensibly, Microsoft will do what Apple did with Mac OS X by getting rid of version numbers and just calling their flagship OS - Windows.
Microsoft has been working on the idea of Windows as a Service to streamline how Windows versions are managed. The current Windows 10 will continuously get improvements and updates, and part of this can be achieved by splitting up the operating system components such as Start Menu and built-in apps to be updated independently to the whole Windows core operating system. It’s a huge undertaking that will ensure that Windows spans across multiple device types.
Even with the current Windows 10, Microsoft has launched a number of apps and services that power Windows 10. Apps like Mail and Xbox have been crafted with regular monthly updates much like mobile versions instead of big releases every few years.
If you have devices or servers running Windows 10, you shouldn’t fret since Windows isn’t going anywhere soon. The operating system won’t vanish, but the idea of versions will be a thing of the past. Windows will be delivered as a service by bringing forth new innovations and updates in an ongoing fashion. According to Microsoft, the new approach will give consumers and businesses continuous value. Moreover, Windows 10 will remain up to date and continue supporting a wide range of devices, from PCs to phones to surface devices.
As the era of windows versions comes to an end, we can expect a new operating system that won’t require big launches or major upgrades every few years. It’s the same way Google’s Chrome browser gets regular upgrades with version numbers nobody pays attention to. Microsoft’s approach will deliver a similar outcome. All you’ll need is to install “Windows” and not worry about version numbers.