Why Microsoft Won’t Produce New Windows “Versions”

Why Microsoft Won't Produce New Windows 'Versions'

An announcement came by the wire on the 8th of May 2015 from Microsoft saying something peculiar. It isn’t going to be producing any more Windows “versions” anymore after the release of Windows 10. This of course doesn’t mean that Windows will cease to exist as an operating system. Instead, Microsoft is steering in a new direction to keep itself competitive. But what exactly does all of this mean? According to Microsoft, it means that we will be seeing Windows improved through continuous incremental updates. This of course raises many questions, and we’re here to answer them as usual.

The Version to End All Versions of Windows

Microsoft, like many other developers of operating systems, unveils its software in the form of iterated “big releases.” The change of direction from this comfortable iterated release model to a more fluid “incremental” one is radical, to say the least. It has far-reaching consequences both good and bad for those who are running Windows on their computers.

Jerry Nixon, a software development executive at Microsoft, has told the BBC that Windows “will be delivered as a service bringing new innovations and updates in an ongoing manner.” There are two ways this can be interpreted:

  • Updates will continue, but you will have to pay a “subscription” to receive them, or
  • The updates are completely free, with the hope of upselling the whole package with supplementary software.

It pains me to say that the first option will be most likely. Office 365 already uses this subscription model with the lowest tier costing around $70 per year.

From a development standpoint, this is an excellent idea. Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a major developer working on software in iterated releases. You always have to plan ahead to keep up with your competition. Sometimes you risk working on a project for two or three years, and in the meantime your competitor comes up with something awe-inspiring that shatters all the work you’ve done. That involves a lot of lost revenue and a great amount of pain for those who participated in the project.

Making continuous updates will put you ahead of your competition. Every great idea that comes out of the conference room will be implemented in a matter of weeks or months, depending on the size and scope of the feature added. Either way, you don’t have to wait years to cram everything into a final build of the “next big version.”

Now that you understand why a developer might get giddy at the prospect of being able to add features and innovations in real time, let’s understand why this release model can go terribly wrong for the consumer. Companies like Microsoft did not get where they are by giving away what they produce for free. That is unlikely to change in the future, since as far as we remember the economy still runs on money. Ideas are great, but they have to materialize some wealth for shareholders and their ilk. In the likely scenario in which they charge a yearly fee for continuous updates of Windows, customers might feel wronged by the fact that they have to pay for the use of something that should already by 100 percent theirs from the get-go.

The other possibility (the optimistic “upsale” scenario) leaves us with a situation in which we’re subject to having to get used to running an OS where extensions of it (such as Microsoft Office) will cost us more dearly if we ever want to install them.

Of course, there’s one final super-optimistic scenario we didn’t mention until now: What if instead of passing the cost of development onto the consumer, Microsoft passes it onto computer equipment manufacturers? Either way, you’re still paying the price with whatever you’re spending on new hardware. It’s virtually inevitable that we will have to get used to a changed payment landscape. The question now is, “How will Microsoft decide to pay for its development costs?”

Developers are people, too, and they have families to feed even if those families consist of one single member. Using the power of deduction, we can make an educated guess that for Microsoft’s plan to be sustainable, it will have to come at a cost to someone. That someone might be the purchasers of the operating system or the manufacturers of the hardware it will run on. Either way, we have to think to ourselves, “Is this a proper price to pay for the ‘final’ version of Windows?”

We’d like to hear what you have to think. Tell us in the comments!

37 comments

  1. Don’t kid yourself. It’s all about more profits for Mi¢ro$oft. It is not about third party software vendors, nor about programmers and their families. It is ONLY about profits for stockholders.

    • if your worried about profits consider a read the crash of 2016, every thing economically has to do with corporate profits

  2. I am not a Linux user and don’t want to start a flame BUT…I fully expect a lot of people to jump MS ship.

  3. Perhaps another option would be for Microsoft so supply security/bug fix patches for free for ever but charge for “enhancements”. Either a subscription fee and/or an option of purchase specific enhancements as then come out.

    • Similar thought crossed my mind. Basic OS free (and maintained) with payment for extras eg MS Office. I certainly wouldn’t have a problem with that since I probably only use twenty or thirty percent of the capabilities of Windows now anyway. It all depends however what’s included as ‘basic’ and what the ‘extras’ cost. The extras must be competitively priced. Let’s wait and see. I for one am not about to ‘jump the MS ship’ unless I feel aggrieved by ultimate costs. When all said and done MS is not a charity, it’s a business and like any business it has to stay competitive to make the shareholders money.

    • Wont work,

      After a few upgrades with new features the base product is way out of sink with the current release that it will basically impossible to send out security updates for the base release. It will be impossible for developers to keep track of all the branches to be updated with all the security patches. We are talking about an OS not a program with add-ons. Adding features to an OS will often go deep into the core of the OS.

  4. If Ford had continued to make and improve the Pinto or Chevrolet did the same to the Vega, where would we be today. It is sustainable to just improve a product, change is inevitable and desirable. My favorite color is blue but I would get very tired quickly if everything was painted blue.
    So saying that, I think that just improving the operating systems just will not work for long. In some cases it might but for the long haul it needs to change with the climate. That is changing to accommodate different means to operate by different persons. One brand doesn’t fit all.:Nuff said from me.

    • JR you make a good point. Brand loyalty however suggests that unless MS Windows veers completely away from customer expectations they will continue to keep most of their customers who will, for whatever reason, not wish to leave their trusted ‘blue’ MS OS for a ‘pink’ other OS. Do you get me? Regards GP.

      • I wonder how many users are brand-loyal of their own free will and how many are locked in by necessity, contracts and/or lack of needed programs running under the other O/Ss.

  5. “Making continuous updates will put you ahead of your competition.”
    What competition does Microsoft have? They have the entire Windows market all to themselves.
    Oh, you mean Linux and OS/X!
    Well, Apple has no intention of changing the release model of OS/X.
    When it comes to Linux, Microsoft is playing catchup yet again. “Rolling release” Linux distros have existed for years. Most distros, however, are still on regular or semi-regular release schedules. Ubuntu, for one, seems in no rush to go to “rolling release.” Apparently they are not too worried about other developers beating them to the punch with “new and improved” features.

    The only reason M$ is doing this is to make sure of a tighter lock-in of their customers. Under the current model, Microsoft can only sell their software once. Under a subscription model, they can sell the software over and over every year. Too bad for M$ that not only are there Linux distros with rolling releases but they provide ALL their software free of charge.

    • I have friends that previously had not been such big geeks switch to Linux. I think we’re on the brink of a major change in how we think about operating systems. Layer 7 load balancing, packet monitoring, and DDoS mitigation are all easier on Linux, so the business world was perhaps the first to ever see Linux as something lucrative.

    • If I remember correctly I happened to install a security patch today and the day before and the….
      Well, you get the picture. M$ is ALWAYS updating their OS already so what’s the difference?

  6. this is exactly why I migrated all my systems to run Linux, so my present and future experience will be free and open and ever changing to my personal needs at the moment

  7. Consider the model similar to Office 365 and you will have some insight on the future windows subscription model. One family and one Internet connection with the same operating system for a limited quantity of tablets, phones, laptops and desktops. One enterprise and one Internet connection with the same model as the family one. The updates arrived when you are at home or at work, but you must pay annual subscription at home and the company must pay the enterprise subscription for using the operating system. There will be fewer workstations subscriptions on the enterprise and the workers who uses phones, tablets, laptops which not belongs to the enterprise must pay for the annual subscription. Could this be affordable by the mean worker?. The software companies will be delighted!!

    • I think that the most likely scenario is that Windows will come on a subscription based model only for continuous updates. If you fail to pay the subscription, you will simply just stop receiving updates, but you can continue using Windows.

      • ” If you fail to pay the subscription, you will simply just stop receiving updates, but you can continue using Windows.”
        Just look at XP. Microsoft just invalidated everyone’s subscription to it. Do you think it is advisable to keep on using it? The same will happen to anybody who does not keep up their subscription to ANY future version of Microsoft software. It will become unsafe to use. You either keep paying or you get thrown off the Microsoft Island.

      • M$’s software is like a colander. even when the left XP it still was full of holes after so many years of maintenance.
        When did they start building there 1st OS (MSDOS 1.0)? They still cannot build a system without security holes

  8. I always like to read comments from Dragonmouth and others. I have working with computers since my company sent me the first PC. Starting out, I learned the first Windows and have carried on through Windows 8.1 and have had very good luck with them. About a year ago I installed Linux Ubuntu and love it. I also use a Chrombook to stay up with Google offerings. I think that some day Google will offer their own version to displace Windows. With this recent news, they might accelerate their goals and objectives. I run my home on Ubuntu on an old Dell desktop pulled from a closet. With my other systems standing by on laptops for work use. Every thing is working really well. M$ better watch their ambitions that will affect we users because their is some real options for us and Linux stand near the top. I also agree with Richard’s reasoning for running Linux.

  9. I might never change, Window 7 is fine with me. I keep my I5, 2 terabyte desk top bug and virus free and it is fast enough for me. But maybe in 5 or 10 years if something very different and fast comes along, who knows.

  10. And by the way, why can I buy a car for the price of a hundred or more times expensive than a microsoft computer and not have to worry that my 60,000 bumper to bumper warrantee will expire in 30 thousand miles? or that I have to get a new engine because my car company wants to sell more cars in the future?

  11. Why windows updates are too big in size and when it update itself, it put the previous update files in “C drive”. As a result every month free space of “C drive” decrease.

  12. It’s just more SaaS, or PaaS, or more precisely O/SaaS. It’s about all that aaS…

    For big biz (like M$), it’s a never-ending payday. For workers and customers, it’s the end of civilization as we know it. Not because of SaaS itself, which is bad enough, but what it is ultimately leading to.

    When Jerry says, “But maybe in 5 or 10 years if something very different and fast comes along, who knows.”, that assumes it’ll still be the same, maybe a newer version or two, of the basic paradigm we’re operating within now.

    But by then there will be no “personal computers”. We’ll be back to simply end-users having only dumb terminals connected to the new big iron via the cloud. OK, maybe not “mainframes”, but mega-servers of some type. And all our individual work, biz or personal, will be “up in the overcast”, potentially and really out of our reach at the mere flick of a corporate switch.
    What’s that? A day or 2 late on the previous month’s internet mortgage? Too bad, so sad, say bye-bye to your life’s work.

    Just saying… And it’s not just about money and power, it’s about what comes next. Control.
    Remember you heard it here first. Or maybe third.

  13. This is not some new butterfly-and-hash plan that Microsoft just threw together. This has all been planned, and plotted from a long time ago. It might seem as if MS is aimlessly chasing their own tail, making questionable decisions when it comes to their OS. But this was all planned, and while the plan might not work because of the tidal wave that is Linux taking over a lot of homes its also a plan that shows a hint of desperation. Desperate to keep up with modern times, but not perfecting any facet of their goals.All the talk about MS possibly going open source? Should be reviled,…see if history really does repeat itself, then we have more than one example of what happens to a company when MS gets involved with it. If you’re a Windows user and you’re content to work on a machine that is not receiving updates anymore (WinXP and shortly?…Window 7) then that’s fine. But it you at least consider security an important feature of any os, then you might want to either check out MacOS X or Linux. And I’m not flaming or trolling. Just using simple logic, how much do you estimate you’ve paid for all the years you’ve been using Windows?…from the office suite, to other apps that are not made by Windows to the amount of times you’ve had yo upgrade wither an application…a license….a key…or some other part or sector of Windows that you’ve constantly charged for? Not to mention that it seems that there are attacks on Windows servers more than any other server OS. I believe we take this stuff fro granted and its high time we tried a different approach! If you’ve never seen or used Linux? go home and try it out,….you might be pleasantly surprised!!

  14. Ubuntu 14.04 LTS rocks and so dose version 15.04.

    i think in a few years 73%of all of the desktop / laptop users in the world will be suing Ubuntu.

    Ubuntu is the best OS ever made, in my opinion.

  15. forgot to mention Microsoft sucks and all companies that make computers that come pre-installed with windows should be required to stop selling them and make, and sell new ones with Ubuntu pre-installed…

    cause Microsoft windows sucks and Ubuntu rules

    • “Ubuntu is the best OS ever made, in my opinion.”
      If it works for you, great. I prefer other distros.

      What is the difference if a PC comes pre-loaded with Ubuntu rather than Windows? It’s still someone else making the O/S decision for the user. I’d rather be able to either install my own O/S or tell the PC manufacturer what O/S I want him to install for me.

    • “i think in a few years 73%of all of the desktop / laptop users in the world will be suing Ubuntu.

      Ubuntu is the best OS ever made, in my opinion.”
      Are you sure? Cause In my opinion, WIndows is the best OS, Having the Most Features, and see the new Windows 10.

      “forgot to mention Microsoft sucks and all companies that make computers that come pre-installed with windows should be required to stop selling them and make, and sell new ones with Ubuntu pre-installed…

      cause Microsoft windows sucks and Ubuntu rules”
      Stop saying Microsoft Sucks, You dont even know programming, Dont you? and how did you know Ubuntu Rules? and stop ruling the Companies to produce Ubuntu-Based Computers

  16. Perhaps one thing that will make the underlying OS irrelevant is the advent of Docker and other ‘portable apps’ style of programs. Docker allows a program and all its files and dependencies to be self-contained (stand alone programs, like portable apps).

    The OS and version of the OS the Docker app is running in become almost irrelevant since that app is isolated from the OS system.

  17. PC-BSD is comparable to Ubuntu in ease of use but more stable and it has many cool features I never seen in a linux distro and I have used over 100. In my own opinion its much better than Ubuntu and has no shortage of open-source software. Unlike Pretendows its free and spares you the blood-sucking money garbadge disposel.Good Linux distros are great too. Ubuntu is a good choice for many also.

  18. One thing you are all overlooking is that it is only the upgrade that is free. Those getting the upgrade have already paid for the previous Operating System, which in the case of large businesses will most likely be Windows 7, and those are also normally the slowest to upgrade. Thus the temptation of the free upgrade.
    Pirate, (or should I say non-genuine ?), Operating systems will get the upgrade but have to pay after a year.
    Once existing qualifying operating systems are upgraded, income will start to come in as people buy the operating system.
    Income is already coming in from manufacturers and will come from system builders with new machines being sold.

    The operating system is a vehicle for many microsoft programmes/apps, quite a few of which generate advertising income for microsoft.
    Also, if you do not turn off all the ‘phone home’ elements, it is engendering a huge amount of market research data for microsoft all for free. (Even more than Win 8 and 8.1).

    Then as said above, people will use it for paying applications from Microsoft such as Office and paying apps from the Apps Store.

  19. PS – I use Linux Mint, BSD and Apple stuff too, yes even Android, but this article is about Windows 10, so let’s stick to the point, guys ?

  20. Having learned how to code in a Microsoft language and then learning a language that is very similiar to that language. I have noticed something about Microsoft, they always outshine their competition when they play catch up. That being said I moved to open source n its been great.

  21. I am just an ordinary user and I feel that if people really understood that Windows is now very little easier to use than Linux, they would soon give the free option a try. This may be the last in a long history of bum decisions Microsoft have made in relation to the windows OS and may persuade people to leave in significant numbers.

    • Indeed, Linux Mint seems to be competing very well with the traditional Windows setup. Despite my consistent use of Windows on a daily basis, I will soon be migrating my system into a new hard drive and setting up dual boot with Lubuntu or something a little more barebones. If Microsoft doesn’t get its act together, it will lose competitiveness in an environment where free alternatives present something more stable, usable, and traditional.

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