Microsoft confirmed that it will discontinue its Windows operating system with the release of Windows 10. The tech giant's development executive, Jerry Nixon, discussed the future of Windows at Microsoft's Ignite developer conference earlier this week in Chicago.
"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," he said.
Windows 10 is due this summer. By skipping a number after Windows 8, Microsoft's current and less-than-beloved operating system, the company is already attempting to show it is on a new path - one that might completely revise the legendary software that boosted Microsoft to fame and made founder Bill Gates one of the richest men on the planet. Microsoft is recasting Windows as a service instead of standalone software.
"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," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement.
Instead of dumping the well-known operating system, Nixon said the company would consistently roll out updates. "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 continued in its statement.
Nixon also said the company was already secretly working on Windows 10 when it released Windows 8.1 last year. With the new system, the company will no longer have to worry about keeping updates confidential.
"There will be no Windows 11," warned Steve Kleynhans, a research vice-president at analyst firm Gartner who monitors Microsoft. He said Microsoft had in the past deliberately avoided using the name "Windows 9" and instead chose Windows 10 as a way to signify a break with a past that involved successive stand-alone versions of the OS. However, he said, working in that way had created many problems for Microsoft and its customers.
"Every three years or so Microsoft would sit down and create ‘the next great OS,'" he told the BBC. Most of the revenue generated by Windows for Microsoft came from sales of new PCs, and this was unlikely to be affected by the change, Kleynhans stressed.
"Overall this is a positive step, but it does have some risks," he said. "Microsoft will have to work hard to keep generating updates and new features, he said, adding that questions still remained about how corporate customers would adapt to the change and how Microsoft would provide support.
"It doesn't mean that Windows is frozen and will never move forward again," Kleynhans told the BBC. "Indeed, we are about to see the opposite, with the speed of Windows updates shifting into high gear."
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