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Microsoft clarifies its Windows confusion, sort of

Is Windows 10 the last version of Windows? Probably not. Microsoft may want to move to a new model, but some things are beyond its control.

Microsoft Windows
Credit: Pete Brown (cropped)

Internet news sites are hyperventilating over a comment made at the Ignite conference by a Microsoft executive that is not entirely accurate. The fault lies with the executive for not clarifying his comments and his choice of words in the first place, but for now, what's said is said and let's move on to the issue.

Jerry Nixon's controversial quote came during his session talk entitled "Tiles, Notifications, and Action Center." He said, "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."

See also: Microsoft introduces the many flavors of Windows 10

Microsoft sent me the following statement:

"Recent comments at Ignite about Windows 10 are reflective of the way Windows will be delivered as a service bringing new innovations and updates in an ongoing manner, with continuous value for our consumer and business customers. 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."

Microsoft's skill at saying a lot while answering nothing is comparable to that of many politicians.

I suspect if Nixon could take that quote back, he'd said "latest" instead of "last." Most sites got the basic idea, that Windows will transition to a service where regular updates are pushed out, rather than a big monolithic update.

But here's the thing. First, will Microsoft follow the Chrome/Firefox/Mac OS X model, where updates are pushed out for free? Or will it follow the obnoxious antimalware model where you have to pay an annual subscription fee or you are SOL?

It could be that Microsoft will just keep the brand name but upgrade it the way Apple has with Mac OS X. Apple has used the "X" (Latin for 10) for going on 14 years now, but it has still delivered major upgrades along the way.

Either way, I don't think this is the last version of Windows. The essential nature will change. Someday hopefully there will be a big change to the PC that will require a major change to the OS that takes advantage of it. So while Windows will continue to evolve, they simply can't leave it at 10.

A far bigger development out of Ignite was the news that Patch Tuesday (or Update Tuesday, as Microsoft has renamed it) is going away. Microsoft announced Windows Update for Business at Ignite and it seems to have been overlooked. There's actually quite a bit to it, with one of the main takeaways being that it pretty much ends the second-Tuesday-of-the-month patching ritual.

With Windows 10, fixes will be pushed out when they are read and not on a monthly calendar. IT managers will have the control to decide when those patches are pushed out to end users, and who should get fixes when. That strikes me as far bigger news.

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