Technology in terms you understand. Sign up for the Confident Computing newsletter for weekly solutions to make your life easier. Click here and get The Ask Leo! Guide to Staying Safe on the Internet — FREE Edition as my thank you for subscribing!

Did Microsoft Lie?

The dangers in believing sound bites and clickbait.

Windows 11
(Screenshot: askleo.com)
The release of Windows 11 proved the statement that Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows to be wrong. But was it a lie?

I know this will bring out the Microsoft haters in droves.

It’ll also bring out those who claim I’m some kind of Microsoft shill or apologist.

Whatever.

Here we go.

In my opinion, Microsoft did not lie when they said, “Windows 10 will be the last version of Windows.”

Let me don my asbestos underwear and explain what I think is really happening.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

TL;DR:

The last version of Windows?

Windows 10 as “the last version of Windows” is more likely to be an over-reaching mis-statement by an individual than an intentional lie by Microsoft. An attention-grabbing, headline-making statement, it’s now been proven to be a mistake with the announcement of Windows 11. Hanlon’s Razor is almost certainly called for.

A lie is an intentional deception

For it to have been a lie, the source must have known it to be false.

By that I mean that wherever the statement came from, that person or organization would have to know that there would someday be a Windows 11 (or something) after Windows 10 while saying that Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows.

I don’t believe that to be the case. I believe wherever it came from, the person who said it believed it.

And if they did, that’s not a lie.

Scenario 1: It was a person, not the company

It was apparently a tech evangelist by the name of Jerry Nixon who said that Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows. It’s unclear whether he was speaking for himself or the company.

Regardless, the press took it to be the company. As just one example, consider Why Microsoft is calling Windows 10 ‘the last version of Windows’, published by TheVerge.com in 2015. The headline, which is quite attention-grabbing, attributes the statement to the company, even though in the article it’s clearly quoted as coming from Nixon.

So, it could have been just him making an attention-grabbing and quotable statement.

Not a lie. A mistake; perhaps a stupid mistake, at worst.

The company didn’t help.

Scenario 2: The corporate position

When questioned about the statement, Microsoft is quoted at the time as saying: “Recent comments at Ignite about Windows 10 are reflective of the way Windows will be delivered as a service bringing new innovations and updates in an ongoing manner, with continuous value for our consumer and business customers. We aren’t speaking to future branding at this time, but customers can be confident Windows 10 will remain up-to-date and power a variety of devices from PCs to phones to Surface Hub to HoloLens and Xbox. We look forward to a long future of Windows innovations.” (via The Verge article).

That’s neither a yes nor a no.

So in a sense, they were saying, “Yes, it’s accurate” — at least in terms of how they were changing how the operating system would be delivered.

And in a sense, they were saying, “No, future branding is whatever future branding will be.”

I’ll take it as being closer to the latter. They didn’t want to dilute the hype they were generating about Windows 10 by admitting there might be a Windows 11.

In either case, also not a lie, albeit wrapped in corporate-speak.

Changing your mind is not a bad thing

We seem to live in a society where changing your mind is considered a bad thing. Politicians are regularly raked over the coals if they dare take a new position in light of new or updated information — even if changing their position is exactly the right thing to do.

The same seems to be true elsewhere as well. Make a statement, and ever afterwards, changing your mind is seen as inherently deceitful.

It’s not. Changing your mind due to changing information, changing times, or realizing what you said before was in error is a good thing.

Regardless of whether it was believed to be true or not, Windows 10 as the last version of Windows seemed iffy from the start. Never say never, and all that. You’ll come to regret it.

And, indeed, I’m certain there are plenty of folks at Microsoft who regret the way that statement has taken off.

You can’t believe everything you read

At the very least, Windows 10 as the last version of Windows was blown out of proportion by the press. The sheer audacity of such a statement made plenty of headlines.

It went from a single person’s statement to an accepted fact and prediction of the future.

Even I’ve been repeating it in recent years, only to be proven wrong by Microsoft’s Windows 11 announcement.

Surprise, surprise: it turned out to be wrong.

Oh well. I have a few articles to go update.

Windows 11

What I’ve seen about Windows 11 looks interesting. In some ways, it feels like a Windows 10 feature update, except for the change in system requirements.

While I’ll touch on it some, I don’t plan to talk about it a lot until it’s much closer to reality. Many things can change. Instead, I’ll continue to focus on issues that are affecting people right now — like Windows 10, internet security, backing up, and more.

But I do look forward to its arrival.

Subscribe to Confident Computing! Tech problem solving & safety tips & a weekly confidence boost in your inbox every week.

I'll see you there!

10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow

Slow Computer?

Speed up with my special report: 10 Reasons Your Computer is Slow, now updated for Windows 10.

NOW: name your own price! You decide how much to pay -- and yes, that means you can get this report completely free if you so choose. Get your copy now!

Podcast audio

Play

35 comments on “Did Microsoft Lie?”

  1. I agree with you, Leo, 100%. I was also skeptical when that announcement was first reported. It just doesn’t’ make sense to keep one release forever. It’s much easier to refer to Windows 8 rather than Windows 10 Version 5.101.23.X.

    Reply
      • You talk about whether or not Microsoft lied, you should be talking about whether or not software companies like Adobe lied about selling you software you can on your computer.
        Case in point I have a computer running Windows 7 with acrobat on it. The power unit took a dump and I can no longer find a replacement for it. So I pull out an old computer running windows 7 and take out my acrobat cd and install it but it fails to install because Adobe refuses to allow me to register it on this computer.

        RjRodgers
        OMB / Mil-Standard 499B Systems Engineer

        Reply
  2. I’ve always thought it to be an outrageous statement to make from day one. If this world continues for another 100 years there will never be another version of Windows for 100 years, just feature updates for 100 years. It just never made sense.

    However, I’ve always remembered it as the last version of Windows you will ever need for the life of your machine (or maybe I’m mixing two different statements together). With the new hardware requirements, there will be some machines that won’t do Windows 11 but would still be able to happily run Windows 10. So in a sense, that statement would be true. On the other hand they’re dropping support for Windows 10 like they always do, in a few years. I’m sure in a few years time this computer will still be chugging along (my XP and Windows 7 machines still do, though I don’t use them). And once again I’ll be forced to upgrade my hardware (or at least buy into Windows 11 if it’s got the right hardware.

    Reply
    • 10 is just a number. 11 is just a number. I see it mainly as a branding tactic. If they had decided to keep calling it Windows 10, they would have made the same upgrades. The important thing is it will still be free to upgrade from Windows 11 from 10 and that’s keeping the original promise of upgrades for life.
      Some are complaining about Win 11 not being compatible with their machines. That has been true for every OS. New OS features require newer hardware, and some machines fall by the wayside. This also happens with Apple and Unix. It’s a technological fact of life.
      If your computer can’t handle the next upgrade, you have a few options. One, stick with the old OS and be extra careful to avoid malware. Install a version of Linux compatible with your machine. Get a new machine and repurpose your older one.

      Reply
      • I agree on just a number and when they reach Windows 94 and decide to progress, they’ll have to think of something else, won’t they?

        Reply
      • There’s one not so obvious problem in deciding whether or not to determine a “lie”. As Leo points out, a lie is an “intentional deception” and “the source must have known it to be false.” Taking the “known to be false” premise motive contributes to lying. The original claim about Win 10 being the last, whether or not the company was part of the claim or failing to address it [certainly they had to know about the claim] is being just as guilty of the false statement.
        Microsoft “could’ve” explained 10 was or was not the final version. Being the final version would for an ever evolving tech company is an absurdity. Upgrades would be a necessity due to future technical advances. So Win 10 was a in that they were not completely honest about their promotions of 10. If they weren’t at least half-true there would be no need for Win 11. Why even give it a new moniker if it wasn’t going to eventually require consumers to up-grade their devices? As 11 will do. But most of that was kept quiet for the purposes of economic competition. If American-style of capitalism requires deception in order to operate and make profit that is deception. Deception has and is part and parcel with Western Capitalism. Every single day one can electrify their computers and TVs and be inundated by false claims about a whole spectrum of products and services. Is that not similar to Microsoft’s plan of action?

        Reply
        • I believe that MS had originally planned to stick with the Windows 10 branding and changed their minds when they decided that rebranding the new feature update name from Windows 10 to Windows 11 would help their marketing efforts. The only change is in the name. The upgrade to 11 will still be free, so either way, it doesn’t make any real difference.

          Reply
  3. Well people can continue to use Win10 til basically Oct 2025 as many will be stuck on Win10 since it seems hardware (or say CPU’s) that supports Win11 is probably no older than about 2017 and it’s probably safe to say most hardware out there is older than that. but I guess on a positive note by the time Oct 2025 comes around, hardware that don’t work with Win11 will probably be at least 8-9 years old by then and it won’t look as bad if Win11 does not support it. still, given the past with Win10 it seems like the odds are it will work on hardware from the 2010’s decade which by Oct 2025, much of that will be 10-15+ years old. but I guess hardware manufacturers probably love Win11 forcing those higher requirements since it will probably make many buy new hardware.

    but I won’t be surprised if some people go to Linux when Win10 is no longer supported especially given hardware (especially CPU’s) does not get outdated nearly as fast as it used to back around the early-to-mid 2000’s and earlier as I am using a CPU on my main PC that was released in I think it was April 2012 and here is is over 9 years later and it’s still plenty fast enough for most tasks. in fact, I went from a i3-2120 to a used i5-3550 CPU last year for only $20 which was a solid upgrade for barely any $ and I just used the heatsink/fan from my i3-2120 on it and compensated for the lack of copper contact on heatsink (which the official stock i5 heatsinks normally have) by lowering CPU voltage to lower CPU temps.

    but anyways, it’s like Microsoft is trying to force people to buy newer hardware even though there is still plenty of older hardware out there that’s still plenty fast enough to run Windows 10 in general. I won’t be surprised if Win11 fails due to them appearing to be TOO limiting on what hardware is supported and given their pattern of OS’s in the past(i.e. good/bad/good/bad (this has held basically true since Win98 to date)), Win11 would be part of the ‘bad’ group.

    but anyways, only potential issue with Linux is it depends on what the person does on their computer whether that will be a viable option or not. either way, Linux can still take a older machine and give it new life and will be, at the very least, a good internet machine for many years to come assuming your hardware is not ancient level as I would imagine if you got at least a dual-core CPU, chances are it will be good enough for general internet use for years to come.

    p.s. James B ; unless you really need WinXP/Win7 on those machines, putting Linux (I suggest Linux Mint (each major version is supported for 5 years)) on them, which is free, and will give them new life and can safely be used online once again. if you got 2GB of RAM, Linux Mint (I suggest Xfce version for old machines) will be passable especially for light usage.

    Reply
    • Microsoft isn’t forcing people to get new hardware. It’s new hardware forcing Microsoft to keep upgrading their software. Technology has been progressing since the invention of the wheel and the discovery of fire. As computer hardware technology progresses, software has to progress to keep up with those newer capabilities. Ever since I started owning computers in the 80s, the technology has grown exponentially and one-by-one my computers became obsolete and I got new ones.
      “I won’t be surprised if Win11 fails due to them appearing to be TOO limiting on what hardware is supported and given their pattern of OS’s in the past” I’ve heard similar statements with every new version of Windows, and Microsoft is still growing.
      As for doing it all to maximize profits, can you name one company who doesn’t do that? In fact, it’s s legal requirement of publicly traded companies to maximize profits.
      Anyone who isn’t happy with that can switch to Linux, but even newer versions of Linux are approaching the hardware requirements of Windows.
      Can you really expect Microsoft’s response to new hardware capabilities to be “Let’s just keep supporting the older software. No one needs the new features available in hardware.” Microsoft wouldn’t make a profit and neither would hardware manufacturers. It’s just capitalism in its most basic form and no different than any industry except that IT progresses faster than any other consumer oriented technology..

      Reply
      • And what many are saying about Linux is probably true for the average home user. Most people mainly use only their browser, listen to music, watch videos, and maybe use an office suite. Linux is perfect for that. Google has demonstrated that with the popularity of Chromebooks. And Linux has advanced Photo, Video, Music, and layout software available for free. I used Mint on a work computer for one year and the only reason I switched was the didn’t have a OneDrive app. Home users don’t need that much storage and can probably get by with Google Drive maybe in combination with Dropbox.

        I taught a BBA course on computer basics. None of them had ever used a spreadsheet program and one was happily surprised that he was able to use Excel in his father’s company. If college students don’t need more than that, I’d say the vast majority would be well served by Linux.

        Reply
        • I love Linux Mint Cinnamon except for the complexities of older PC programs and games that then require assistance from such as Wine, Play It On Linux, Crossover, and so on. Other than that, I’ve been very happy and the first complicated Linux I briefly ran was Redhat Linux 9.0 that was difficult and complicated in setup. The modern versions are quite wonderful now.

          Reply
        • Mark, if you are command-line literate, there is a free OneDrive client for Linux on GitHub at https://github.com/abraunegg/onedrive. It is actively supported (the most recent update was 14 hours ago as I write this).

          The page includes Installation and Usage documents. You have to build the client from source, but the build directions in the Installation document will be your friend. If you build the client in Linux Mint the prerequisite packages are correctly named, so you can directly copy-paste the commands from the document in the order in which they are presented, with one caveat, read ahead, when you get to the configuration command, if you want notifications to be enabled, you will have to read the following paragraph and add the “–enable-notifications” switch to the ./configure command, making the full command “./configure –enable-notifications”. There are other enhancements you can choose such as “–enable-completions”, but I did not find them to be as useful as the notifications switch.

          I hope you find this information to be useful,

          Ernie

          Reply
        • Hi. oldtech here, since 8088 XTs’. Downloaded the 4.76 gb I S O file, put on USB, installed on 4 year old HP laptop. Model n-284 ca. 10 gb ram. No problems, glitches, bsods’ or anything. Rebooted, no trouble ! i AM SURPRISED. anyway, good luck to all, in this generation of depleted, old-time MORALS. You stay safe, too, Mr Leo !!!

          Reply
  4. Leo, it WAS a lie! It was a lie by omission. Please don’t allow yourself to be an apologist for Microsoft. They did nothing to dispel the statement that “Windows 10 was the last version of Windows,” and that future modifications would be in the form of updates to Windows 10. I remember that statement very clearly, and blindly passed on to all my fellow Windows 10 users that “fact.” Microsoft has the power of the press, and all they had to do was to say that the rumors of Windows 10 being the last version of Windows was mistaken, and a correction would have been broadcast around the world, and that would have been that. I hate this shilly-shallying around and saying, four or five years later, that “We were misquoted, and never said that.” Microsoft is not a backwater startup. They should know what the public believes about its flagship software. I have lost what remnant of respect I ever had for Microsoft, and if my use of Windows and its applications and quirks were not so thoroughly ingrained in me, I would seriously consider switching over to Mac OS or Linux.

    Reply
    • If the public really believed that Windows 10 would be the last version then the public is pretty dense. If the next OS is called Doors would that satisfy the nay-sayers?. Nothing manufactured stays the same. It always progresses. Computer hardware is evolving at an amazing rate and the software has to keep up.

      64 bit computers used to be a rarity but now they are as common as dirt. Will the next ones be 128 bit, 256 bit or 512 bit. Only time will tell.

      Reply
    • You could not have stated it better. Microsoft owes their customer base clarity so when a Microsoft employee of consequence propagates critical falsehoods relative to that base they absolutely must correct it. The failure to correct reflects either incompetence or malfeasance – neither are a good place to be.

      Reply
  5. I like Windows 10. I use it as my ‘production OS’ on this machine. I am testing Windows 11 on my new Laptop. I will see how much I like Windows 11 as I use it, and I will see if my new laptop’s hardware will still be supported after 11 becomes generally available this fall.

    I also like Linux, but I can do some things in Windows more easily (or more intuitively) than I can do them in Linux, most likely because I have used Windows since Windows 3.1, and before that, MS-DOS beginning with version 3.1. Also, I can get drivers for most of my hardware devices from Microsoft (or from the device vendor) so the devices I use simply ‘work’ in Windows. This is not always the case for device hardware in Linux although the situation is improving, bit by bit.

    My production desktop computer (this machine) and my older laptop will not be supported by Windows 11, so they will become Linux boxes in October 2025. I have no problem with that. I can see no reason to discard my older hardware as long as it keeps working well, and I can still get a supported OS to run on it.

    From where I sit, Microsoft owes me nothing. They gave me a free OS in 2015, and they have aggressively updated it since then. I truly appreciate their efforts. As long as I have a machine that can run any version of Windows that is supported, I will continue to run it. When the time comes that I can no longer run a supported version of Windows on any of my computers, I will run Linux. For me, in the long run, it makes little difference.

    I expect delivery of a mid-tower case in a few days, at which point I will have all the hardware I ordered to build a new desktop PC. After I get it built, I’ll see if it will run Windows 11. If not, it will run Windows 10 until October 2025, then it too will become a Linux box.

    The bottom line here is that an OS is just that, an OS. Ultimately, users can do most of what they want to do in any OS, and if they find something they cannot do, there is usually a way around the obstacle keeping them from doing it. This is as true as it gets in Linux. If you cannot figure out how to do something, or how to get some device working in Linux, you can ask your distribution’s community for help. You can bet that if you want to do a thing, or cannot get a device to work in your distribution, there are others in the community who have faced (and solved) the same problem. The Linux community is always willing to help with information for those who want to learn, but you must be willing to learn what you do not already know.

    My2Cents,

    Ernie

    Reply
  6. Oh. Dear. Too much Kool-Aid this week? Please keep to the subject of the post. The last sentence is a stretch to keep it on the subject. Thank you.

    Reply
  7. While Microsoft may not have technically lied, the obfuscation of their statement indicates that they didn’t want to disabuse customers’ perceptions that they would never have to spend money to upgrade their systems again. What angers people isn’t that they were subtly deceived, but that they are trapped in a recurring expense until they die. Most of us use our computers to surf the web, and we expect that like other appliances such as refrigerators, or microwave ovens, we can buy one and use it until it unexpectedly breaks down. I wish I knew about Linux when I bought my computer.

    Reply
      • 1. Will all my applications that I paid for and that now run on Windows 10 run on Linux?
        2. Will they run in the same way that they ran on Windows 10?
        3. After 40 years of using Windows 10 and becoming an “expert” will I become a beginner on Linux?
        4. Don’t tell me just “the good news.” Tell me the bad news too.

        Reply
        • 1: no.
          2: see #1
          3: intermediate
          4: done. 🙂

          Linux is a change, for sure. The “cost” of free is that you’ll have to learn a few new ways of doing things. The concepts are the same, the devil is in the details. SOME applications will have Linux versions, many will not. For the later you’ll need to find alternatives, of which there are generally many (most of which are also free).

          But one of my frustrations is to see people continually rail against Microsoft and Windows, while there are so many alternatives available. What I want to tell them is this: if you really dislike Windows so much, then don’t use it. Get a Mac, get a Chromebook, or switch to Linux on your existing hardware. SO MANY alternatives.

          Reply
  8. The history of computing is full of predictions that turned out to be wrong. I remember seeing a quote that I think was on a large display as you entered the corporate offices of Anderson Consulting in New York. I can’t find that quote now, but I found a few others, including this one.
    “We will never make a 32-bit operating system.”- Bill Gates, 1989

    Reply

Leave a reply:

Before commenting please:

  • Read the article.
  • Comment on the article.
  • No personal information.
  • No spam.

Comments violating those rules will be removed. Comments that don't add value will be removed, including off-topic or content-free comments, or comments that look even a little bit like spam. All comments containing links and certain keywords will be moderated before publication.

I want comments to be valuable for everyone, including those who come later and take the time to read.