Windows 10 blows out five candles: on July 29, 2015 Microsoft started distributing the first release, version number 1507 and build number 10240, in a stable form. The new system represented a real revolution for the Microsoft OS, both for the idea of Windows as a Service, both for the goal of carrying on also a mobile version with shared bases.
Windows as a Service means, very simply said, that the system is constantly updated with new features at a much faster rate than in the past. Microsoft has made profound changes to its update development, verification and testing procedures, and is able to release a "feature update" (which we could equate with the old Service Packs with a little approximation) every six months or so. With Windows 10, Microsoft has decided to rely on the community of enthusiasts to test the operating system, founding the Insider program. We can say that everything has not always gone well – between important bugs that emerged close to the release of the updates and some criticisms on the privacy side – but the giant of Redmond has been able to listen to the feedback and adapt its infrastructure according to the emergence of new ones needs and critical issues.
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The mobile bet, as we know, has had little luck. Already the two versions of Windows Phone, the 7 and the 8, had not managed to establish themselves as an alternative to the duopoly of Android and iOS, at least worldwide (in some markets, such as ours, it had reached interesting, but not sufficient, quotas) ; then the move to Windows 10 forced Microsoft to leave too many smartphones behind, fragmenting its own ecosystem. Among performance issues and exclusive features (the UWP and Continuum platform) that, however interesting on paper, never managed to convince as much as an implementation, Microsoft pronounced the death sentence a couple of years later.
Despite the hitches, we said, Microsoft managed to achieve the remarkable goal of 1 billion installations, albeit with a little delay due to the debacle in the mobile. Microsoft said that this will be the last Windows that will release, focusing on gradual but constant updates over time: a constant evolutionary path, which sees increasingly marginalized legacy components such as the Control Panel, a Fluent Design more in step with the times and a renewed collaborative spirit with those who were once bitter competitors (think for example of the "reborn" Edge browser based on Chromium or, in less recent times, the integration of a Linux subsystem).
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Many things have also changed at an organizational level. Those who were there a few years ago will remember the era of Terry Myerson, Joe Belfiore (especially the mobile side) and Gabe Aul (first chief of the Insiders). Now the development of Windows is divided into two teams – one dedicated to the development of its foundations and one, now managed by Panos "Mr. Surface" Panay, which focuses on user experience. Myerson is gone, as well as Aul, replaced by Dona Sarkar, and Belfiore dedicates himself to something else.
In recent years Microsoft has shown that "latest version" is absolutely not synonymous with "resource reduction": it has released a variant dedicated to the ARM platform, has tried to develop new apps and services (think of Cortana, Windows Hello, Paint 3D, Mixer, Groove Musica and the new Powershell), has expanded into augmented reality and even into corporate collaborative mega-boards. Always Windows 10 is the basis of the Xbox consoles. Some bets have been less successful than others, but in the meantime we continue to look forward: the next chapter is called Windows 10X, and more generally the ambitious Core OS project that will make the system modular and easier to adapt to various types of device – from IoT gadgets to large datacenters.
It may be the 5th birthday of Windows 10, but we are celebrating all the people who make it worth celebrating (psst … that’s you). Thanks a billion to everyone on Windows 10! pic.twitter.com/7CE7im7exZ
– Windows (@Windows) July 29, 2020