Windows 10 is the Last Version of Windows

But before your computer gets its undies in a twist, you need to realize it’s not the end…

I’ve seen a lot of traffic over the past few days with a lot of click bait on the headline that Microsoft won’t produce another version of Windows after Windows 10.

windows10-logo

That’s a total load of crap.

First and foremost, Microsoft isn’t abandoning Windows. It isn’t going through the effort of creating Windows 10 for desktop, tablets and mobile devices (meaning phones) only to shelve it after its released. No. Microsoft is going to continue to develop Windows with eyes clearly on both the consumer and enterprise markets. Your operating system of choice isn’t getting ditched.

Instead, Microsoft is changing how it delivers Windows. Windows is becoming a SaaS, or software as a service, product. Now, you also do NOT need to get panicky. This OS as a service thing doesn’t come with any kind of subscription fee. However, that doesn’t mean that Windows as a Service (WaaS) is without its costs.

Windows 10 will be free for a year after its initial release for everyone that has a legitimate Windows XP/ 7/ 8/ 8.x license. Those that have pirated copies may get an upgrade, but will have to pay for activation to make their copy genuine.

Microsoft also recently announced what SKU’s or Windows 10 related products they will be releasing. Like every other release of Windows, Microsoft made this more complicated than it needed to be. Specifically, they are

  1. Windows 10 Home
    This is the consumer-focused desktop edition. It offers a familiar and personal experience for PCs, tablets and 2-in-1s. Windows 10 Home will include the following:
    – Cortana, the world’s most personal digital assistant; the new Microsoft Edge web browser;
    – Continuum tablet mode for touch-capable devices; Windows Hello face-recognition, iris and fingerprint login;
    – Universal Windows apps like Photos, Maps, Mail, Calendar, Music and Video.
    – Xbox Integration giving games and gamers access to the Xbox Live gaming community, enabling the capture and share of gameplay and giving Xbox One owners the ability to play their Xbox One games from any Windows 10 PC in their home.
  2. Windows 10 Mobile
    Win10 Mobile is designed to deliver the best user experience on smaller, mobile, touch-centric devices like smartphones and small tablets. Windows 10 Mobile will include:
    – Universal Windows apps that are included in Windows 10 Home,
    – The new touch-optimized version of Office.
    – Continuum for phone, so people can use their phone like a PC when connected to a larger screen.
  3. Windows 10 Pro
    The Pro version is a desktop edition for PCs, tablets and 2-in-1s. Windows 10 Pro builds upon both the familiar and innovative features of Windows 10 Home, it has many extra features to meet the diverse needs of small businesses, including:
    – Mobile device management supporting Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
    – Windows Update for Business, which is the same as the consumer version of Windows Update, but with the ability to reject or postpone the installation of specific updates that may not be fully compatible with an SMB-based hardware installation.
  4. Windows 10 Enterprise
    Windows 10 Enterprise builds on Windows 10 Pro, adding advanced features designed to meet the demands of medium and large sized organizations. It provides advanced security capabilities, including:
    – Advanced security options to help protect against the ever-growing range of modern security threats targeted at devices, Advanced options for operating system deployment and comprehensive device and app management.
    – Windows Update for Business, which is the same as the consumer version of Windows Update, but with the ability to reject or postpone the installation of specific updates that may not be fully compatible with an enterprise-based hardware and software installation
    – Long Term Servicing Branch as a deployment option for their mission critical devices and environments.
    – Available to Volume Licensing customers only
  5. Windows 10 Education
    This is where things get a bit murky. Windows 10 for Education is really a version of Windows 10 Enterprise, but it has “paths” that will enable schools and students using Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro devices to upgrade to Windows 10 Education. I have no idea how it’s going to do that, what the cost will be, or who will have to pay the upgrade charges.
  6. Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise
    Simply put, this is nothing more than Windows 10 Mobile with enterprise related hooks for mobile device management and security policy enforcement.
  7. Windows 10 for IoT
    There will also be versions of Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise for industry devices like ATMs, retail point of sale, handheld terminals and industrial robotics and Windows 10 IoT Core for small footprint, low cost devices like gateways.

There’s a lot here. From what I’ve heard and read, there is more than one Win10 IoT version out there, depending on the Thing you’re trying to install Windows 10 on.

So, what’s this whole Windows as a Service “service” thing supposed to be about..? Simply, Microsoft is taking a page from Apple’s playbook here and simply labeling the latest version of Windows as Windows 10 (much like Apple did with OS X…). Each new “version” or “edition” of Windows 10 will carry the Windows 10 label. What Microsoft hasn’t done however, is tell us how we’re going to be able to differentiate between one version and the next.

Microsoft needs to take an additional queue from Apple and give each major release some type of code name. Apple was using cats for years – Tiger, Leopard, Snow Leopard, Lion, etc. Now, they’re using California state points of interest – Mavericks, Yosemite, etc. Microsoft needs to pick a theme and hop on here. This will allow people to know and relate to some kind of support tech or family member what flavor they have.

Following this model, like Apple does for OS X, some hardware won’t be able to support the newer versions of the OS, and will get left behind as far as versions of Windows are concerned. Depending on where and when Microsoft kills support for those orphaned versions of Windows 10, they may still need to support them. As such, users will need to call that version of Windows… something. Simply calling it Windows 10 or referring to some kind of version number or number range, isn’t going to cut it. They’re going to create a huge amount of confusion if they don’t slap some kind of label on a given major release of Windows 10.

What do you think? Did Microsoft create more versions of Windows 10 than it needed to? Should the Education version simply be part of the Enterprise version without being called out? Should the Pro and Home versions simply be one version, or will SMB’s need options that consumers and their home networks will never, ever need? Do mobile and desktop versions need to be grouped together in a single version of Windows 10, or is it ok to say that desktop and mobile are separate, and are likely to take on different lifecycles? (as it stands now, they won’t… Windows 10 is Windows 10 is Windows 10, if Microsoft’s vision works out.)

Give me your thoughts on all of this. I’d love to hear your feedback in the Discussion area below.

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