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Windows 10 is going to be the new Windows 7

Windows 7 and Windows 10 logos with a bidirectional arrow between them

Earlier this week, Microsoft made a rather major announcement stating that version 22H2 of Windows 10 is going to be the last feature update for the OS. This is the clearest indication yet that Microsoft's popular Windows 10 is not a primary focus for the company anymore, something that I've been requesting official confirmation on for a few months now.

With Microsoft winding down support for Windows 10, the OS will continue to receive monthly updates bringing security patches and minor improvements, but there is going to be no version "23H2" or any other feature update until the OS loses support altogether on October 14, 2025.

While Microsoft is actively working on improving Windows 11 already, rumors have already begun to swirl about the next major operating system update, which we refer to as "Windows 12" for now, though it could end up being called anything really (remember the missing Windows 9?).

However, one thing that has become abundantly clear since Windows 11's release is that Microsoft's customers (including maybe even myself) are resistant to change. Microsoft overhauled Windows' general interface and UX in a major way with Windows 11, and let's just say, not every change has been been responded to favorably by its customers. This isn't only about a change in interface either, there have been lots of complaints about reduced functionality in the name of simplicity. While the Redmond tech firm has been adding back some functionality, it's obvious that people have become accustomed to, and even prefer, lots of aspects of Windows 10 and are not ready to switch over just because Microsoft says that Windows 11 is more secure.

A Windows 12 concept image

With Windows 12 expected to arrive next year - merely three years after the release of Windows 11 -, this behavior isn't going to change. People aren't just going to migrate from an OS that they have come to love just because the new one has some shiny AI and cloud features that they may not even use.

In a way, I find it a bit funny. I remember that when Windows 10 released, there was massive backlash against forced updates and telemetry functionalities that Microsoft introduced to the OS. While the tech firm eventually managed to iron out those issues, it took time, and now its apparently the most beloved current version of Windows.

Remember that Windows 10 became available in 2014, which means that it enjoyed almost seven years in the spotlight before Windows 11 took its place. People had time to get used to Windows 10, they haven't experienced the same with Windows 11 and now, we are already hearing about Windows 12 and a three-year upgrade cycle between major OS versions.

A Windows 7 graphic

The general populace haven't warmed to the idea of Windows 11 within the past two years. According to StatCounter, Windows 10 enjoys nearly 75% of the Windows market share while Windows 11 is at a distant 20%. Of course, this will change with time but it will be a matter of months, not years. And with the operating system becoming even more fragmented with Windows 12 and then again with new versions every three years, I believe people will stick to a stable OS that they like (i.e. Windows 10) rather than upgrading and familiarizing with a new version every three years. Then there's also the issue of the relatively poor quality of Windows updates being pushed out and there just not being enough confidence that Microsoft is going to give feature updates enough time in the (development) oven.

I have a strong feeling that Microsoft is going to end up in yet another situation where a significant amount of its customer base is using an unsupported OS (Windows 10), à la Windows 7, and it will be years before a newer version of Windows grabs a majority market share. I don't think this is an ideal situation for a firm which seems intent on using security as the major reason to get people to update. Microsoft doesn't want to be pushing out-of-band security updates to Windows 10 just because its customer base refuses to move on.

Only time will tell how eager people are to switch from Windows 10, and to a seemingly turbulent Windows update process where we have new releases every three years and multiple major versions are being supported in parallel. I wouldn't be surprised at all if we find out that people have decided to stick to Windows 10 - just like they did with Windows 7 - just because familiarity trumps every new thing Microsoft could introduce with its next operating systems. For the majority, it doesn't matter if Windows 11, 12, or 13 offer new functionalities, it's more about how the human mind works in terms of inertia and resistance to change. And while that's understandable to me, I don't think it's a desirable situation for Microsoft.

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