When Microsoft released Windows 10 in 2015, it was widely reported that the company was calling its most recent operating system the last version of Windows. This caused widespread confusion and uncertainty when the company announced Windows 11 in 2021. It turns out that the “Windows 11 is the last version” comment was made by a Microsoft developer and not in an official company statement.

As a result, many people may be wondering if Windows 11 is the last version or if we will see Windows 12 in the next few years. Before Windows 10, a brand-new full-fledged version of the OS came along every two or three years. However, by the time 2015 rolled around, Microsoft no longer felt this was a viable model as computing shifted more towards cloud-based applications, especially on mobile devices.

Microsoft thought it was ridiculous to make its users wait years for significant updates. This was because people were used to getting updates on other platforms much more frequently. Microsoft wanted to maintain compatibility with rapidly evolving technology. Therefore, the company’s strategy shifted to releasing multiple feature updates yearly for Windows 10.

This gave users gradual improvements to keep up with the times, but the massive issue is that the upgrades were often not that gradual. Not only did many users not get used to how often significant changes were made to the OS, but updates were also cumulative. This meant that you couldn’t pick and choose which features you wanted. You will face many changes if a long period has passed since you last updated your system.

Although the changes were not all that problematic, many users were unhappy with their frequency, especially in larger organisations that had to manage large-scale Windows deployments for users who might have needed to be more tech-savvy.

That’s not the only reason Microsoft ended up releasing Windows 11 and putting out those significant updates with an “h” in the name only once a year. As a compromise, there were enough differences in Windows 11 to make it a full-fledged separate product, especially considering the security requirements. But there were enough changes from the original Windows 10 paradigm for the Windows 11 designation to make sense.

But if Microsoft is fine with the annual update cadence and consumers are also okay with it, is there a point in Microsoft coming out with Windows 12? There have already been reports that Microsoft is returning to its more traditional strategy of releasing a new version of Windows every three years.

This is probably a tacit admission on Microsoft’s part that the whole “Windows as a Service” idea didn’t completely take off. But beyond that, not sticking with one version of Windows for the rest of the time makes sense for several reasons. As we saw with the controversy over TPM requirements for Windows 11, hardware requirements will keep changing. At some point, these standards will become necessities instead of nice-to-haves. And once a Windows update requires significant hardware changes, it would be much more confusing for consumers if an update to the exact Windows version did not work on their existing hardware.

Returning to full-featured Windows versions every three years also gives consumers more choice as to whether they want to drastically change how they interact with their computers. And administrators and larger organisations might have valid reasons to stick with what they have, whether that’s a need to run older software or a fear that migrating to a new version of Windows could cause chaos among the ranks and files of their company.

Although Microsoft has gotten plenty of criticism for forcing updates, upgrading to an entirely updated version of Windows has always been an optional choice. This is because it remains so to this day. According to reports, Windows 12 may be coming in 2024, but we need more information.

They are bringing back full-featured Windows versions every three years, giving consumers more choices as to whether they want to drastically change how they interact with their computers. And administrators and larger organisations might have valid reasons to stick with what they have, whether that’s a need to run older software or a fear that migrating to a new version of Windows could cause chaos among the ranks and files of their company.

Although Microsoft has received plenty of criticism for forcing updates, upgrading to an entirely redesigned version of Windows has always been an optional choice. This is because it remains so to this day. According to reports, Windows 12 may be coming in 2024, but we need more information.