Windows 10 will be the last version of Microsoft's personal computer operating system.
Microsoft development executive Jerry Nixon told technology professionals attending the tech giant's Ignite conference in Chicago, USA, that Windows 10 would be the last version of the software.
"Right now we're releasing Windows 10, and because Windows 10 is the last version of Windows, we're all still working on Windows 10", Nixon said at the technology conference.
But that does not mean Microsoft is throwing in the towel on personal computer operating systems after Windows 10 hits store shelves and is installed on personal computers, tablets and phones this July.
There are 1.5 billion people using one version of Windows or another in 190 countries in 111 language.
The announcement from Nixon at Ignite means Microsoft is changing the way it releases updates to the operating system.
"Windows will be delivered as a service bringing new innovations and updates in an ongoing manner", Microsoft said in a statement following Nixon's speech. It added it expected a "long future" for Windows which would be updated gradually, one application at a time, rather than through a major overhaul and re-release every two or three years.
The announcement had Gartner research vice president saying: "There will be no Windows 11."
He told media Microsoft had deliberately avoided using the name Windows 9 to signify a break with a past which involved successive stand-alone versions of the operating system.
"Every three years or so Microsoft would sit down and create 'the next great OS'," he said, "The developers would be locked away and out would pop a product based on what the world wanted three years ago."
The new version introduces several new innovations.
Microsoft promises Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of computing devices and adapt to the computing devices you are using - from Xbox to PCs and phones to tablets and tiny gadgets - and what they're doing with a consistent, familiar and compatible experience.
Windows 10 will work on keyboard and mouse controlled desktop computers, touch enabled tablet computers and smart phones. It will offer a new seamless experience with the built in applications of Photos, Videos, Music, Maps, People & Messaging and Mail & Calendar. Microsoft has redesigned the apps to look and feel the same across different devices. Content is stored and synced through Microsoft's virtual hard disk drive OneDrive, enabling you to start something on one device and continue it on another.
The new version is built on all the previous versions back to 1995 when Microsoft introduced the graphic user interface in Windows 95. Windows 98, Windows 2000 and Windows ME all built on the 1995 release, but Windows XP became crisper and cleaner in look and function.
Windows Vista, that arrived in 2007, was followed two years later by Windows 7 and the two had much in common around their look and feel.
Everything changed in 2012 with the release of the touch screen focused Windows 8, which some users complained about because it was so different to its predecessors, but Windows 8.1 answered the critics by adding back in some of the functions stripped out for Windows 8.
Microsoft has not yet released pricing for Windows 10, but has promised free over the internet upgrades for computer already running Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.
You can read more about Windows 10 at windows.microsoft.com/en-nz/windows-10/about