Is it time for Microsoft to move on from the Windows 10 brand?

Windows 10x Mock Prox Split
Windows 10x Mock Prox Split (Image credit: Daniel Rubino/Windows Central)

With recent reports indicating that Microsoft is putting Windows 10X on the backburner in favor of focusing efforts on Windows 10 desktop, the question is: What comes next? After all, Windows Desktop has been proceeding as-is for quite a while now, and though it's a decades-in-the-making achievement, all good things must come to an end. So should that end be now, and if so, what should Microsoft rebrand with or move on to?

Vote for the future of Windows and let us know what path you'd like to see Microsoft take. Think it should keep going up the numerical ladder by choosing Windows 11, just like it did by following up Windows 8 with Windows 9 — oh, wait. Or how about Windows 21, since skipping numbers for the heck of it is a great way to make a clean break from what came before?

Alternatively, if your dream future for Windows isn't listed above, feel free to drop a comment explaining what your ideal operating system would be, what it would be branded as, and why. And if you feel Windows 10 is fine as-is and you don't want a rebrand or new OS, share that as well! There are many reasons to love the current iteration of Windows, even if it's not exactly built on the freshest foundation.

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to

  • Actually just "Windows Desktop" or "Windows for Endpoints" would be good then you could have "Windows Server" or "Windows for Server"
  • I agree. For years, I just started calling Windows, Windows Desktop. I thought it went perfectly along with Windows Mobile.
  • That is a good point. I definitely remember Windows Mobile.
  • I miss it.
  • Why should they do that?
  • As a tool, being an OS, it really doesn't matter about moving on. That's why so many people were happy to stay with XP far longer than it was supported for.
    However, as with a lot of tech, people want something new to use, and mostly to play with rather than use as a stable platform. It's why we have a big divide over automatic updates. Some people don't care, and maybe are excited by what it brings, others just want a tool that's not going to be broken after patch Tuesday.
    Trends in online content, sites and services come and go pretty quickly. It's part of the connected world we live in and why, the majority of software (and hardware) is upgraded.
    This isn't because they couldn't do the task before (because they obviously were), but because someone develops something new, a trend is engaged with that requires something new and the new requires new hardware and/or software.
    I still have a 2005 mac mini that does all the stuff it could when it was new. However, even browsing sites like Google that used to work have stopped working over time as they drop support for the software that interacts with it's services.
    If Microsoft doesn't then move away from the Windows 10 moniker, it's going to be seen as a dated product that isn't fit for the new trend/internet site/service. Pretty quickly people are going to move onto the next greatest thing (read new trending tech) and if that's something like Apple's M1 and MacOS that comes with it, then that's what Microsoft is eventually going to lose out to. Right now, with the lack of GPU for the last year and seemingly until at least next year, there isn't even a good reason for Games to stay with Microsoft as their OS, save for their existing library.
  • What do you mean by "lack of GPU"?
    what has that got to do with Windows?
    Also, the name doesn't have to change for the OS to get new features.
  • There's just as much stock shortages for Series X (and PS5) for the next year. By that logic, developers should stop supporting the 9th gen consoles, too. Just remember, Microsoft wants to bring XCloud to Nintendo Switch and PS5; they want their service on everything. When Microsoft officially launches XCloud on Android TV, that's it: The Xbox console is officially redundant. I can just use my 4K Shield TV with Game Pass and be good to go. There is no point buying an Xbox console.
  • Yes the next generation xbox will have to be different, but as good as the Shield TV is its still only 60 htz for games. Also I can stream games to my Shield Pro from PC and Xbox console but don't do it yet. Also with games becoming more realistic and needing larger bandwidths cloud gaming will fall behind. The cloud infrastructure needs to improve worldwide first. The size of games is larger but the internet isn't faster by comparison. The more info being sent needs more bandwidth. Will consoles go or more into something else. An example would be a console has the main part of the game and the cloud produces higher fps, ray tracing and VR or adapts to 8k, no load times and things that haven't been invented or thought of yet.
  • Actually .. installing a hybrid game with parts streamed from the cloud is a cool idea!
  • Works for macos x though
  • I voted Windows 21, not to break with numbers but to go back to mentioning the year. Like Windows 95, Windows 98, 2000 etc. So if it would be released next year Windows 22
  • No point in bumping a version number or other rebranding if all that is being done us reshuffling the UI deck chairs. Do something substantial with it or put it on life support and invest the staff's time elsewhere.
  • This is ridiculous.
  • I voted for just Windows - it just feels right...
  • Just call it Windows. No more spotlighting the version number. Like Android and iOS, neither of which spotlight the version.
  • "All good things must come to an end." You say that as if it's a given. It is not. Quite the opposite, actually. When MS moved to Windows 10, they made it clear that they did not intend to end it, and that it was simply going to continue and evolve as Windows 10. If you think they should consider doing something different, you need to justify that, not just throw out your conclusion as if it's something we all need to accept.
  • 1. Sun Valley.
    2. Work with Qualcomm to add x86 instructions to their 8cx chip. Windows on ARM is essential for Windows future. In other words modernise the UX and add proper support for ARM.
  • Intel does not allow hardware support for x86 instructions on non licensed chips.
  • They don't even seem to be in love of the concept of "windows" as a company: Windows 8 and 10X could have been called Window and it be more fitting than the name used. But I'm firmly in the camp that Windows as a product is a mature development and creative platform, offering the tools and workflows absolutely required to make anything more complicated than a 4 column spreadsheet from a feature-anemic mobile app that is the only thing the mobile-first products seem to do well at. macOS and linux could only *dream* have having such a well supported, optimized, and feature-rich platform with driver support targeting it directly. I'm sorry that doesn't do it for people that need to feel cool as they sit around presumably a train while sipping starbucks coffee and wearing their single personality trait of "apple fan", "google fan" or "microsoft user" on a nametag, but that's clearly a product opportunity for something entirely separate from Windows. And if they start to build something like 10X again, they need to absolutely fire anyone and everyone (as well as the person standing next to them) that suggests even the mere thought that it's somehow a replacement for or the future of Windows if it's "mobile-first". I'm not a get off my lawn type, I own a Surface Book and an iPad Pro 12.9. Those devices do really cool things, I love them. But if you ask me to do anything more than sketch a drawing, watch Youtube, or browse the web or jot down some stuff to OneNote, I'm going to go use my Windows laptop or my Windows tower. The absolute bare minimum of a replacement to Windows or any new meaningful OS offering should have a full featured, non-neutered Visual Studio release and the ability to develop and compile directly on the device. Anything less than that is failure in motion that we've seen time and time again. If they manage that with a legacy-less release of an OS, hey, now we're talking. Everyone knew Metro/UWP was a joke meant for the Microsoft product death kneel when it became clear not even Microsoft could develop their own products with that process and form factor, certainly none that could replace its revenue generating win32 counterparts. If they build something that is effectively a mobile OS that has to be bootstrapped by Windows proper, then that says it all about Windows needing to be here to stay. "The Future Of Windows" is becoming just as cringeworthy as "Year Of The Linux Desktop".
  • Very true. Even for non-developers, the features in desktop software let you get work done. In some fields this can be done with MacOS, but it is still wonky at times. Windows still has this foothold.
  • MS should launch Fluent design in Windows 8 and they should add some rounded corners instead of using sharp edges. Even in Windows 10, some programs are still having old look.
  • It's the Microsoft brand that stinks.
  • Then what you want? An ad-focused search engine company that won't bother to fix its popular mobile OS?
  • If they have to rename but keeping Windows branding. My take would be: Windows Pro - The regular desktop OS, even including ARM variant. Same branding regardless of CPU architecture, that should be an OEM marketing to differentiate their hardware with ARM or x64. This replace Windows 10 Pro. Windows - Windows 10X but also replacing Windows 10 Home for the consumer. Windows Server + *year* - Same Windows Server branding with year to differentiate them. Windows E - Enterprise version of Windows. Replacing Windows 10 Enterprise. Windows W - Windows 10 Pro Workstation rebranding. Windows MR -W indows for mixed reality devices like HoloLens. Windows Hub - for Surface Hub and other electronic board and collaboration devices. Now to differentiate the feature update/version difference, I think we should just use naming system to name that update. Maybe use element like their codenames, for example "Windows Cobalt", "Windows Pro Cobalt", "Windows Hub Cobalt" . Only Windows Server won't get the naming scheme, since Windows Server have their own versioning on their LTSC. Just keep the current Windows 10 sub versioning for Semi-Annual version like Version 20H2 or something.
  • I'm willing to bet, they'll keep the Windows 10 name for a little while longer, they haven't shown any reason to change it yet. However, if/when they do, it will likely be to just "Windows". They'll try to make it like the Chromebook style, where you are always updated and always running the newest build of Windows.
    From the users perspective, the computer is just running "Windows", internally, it doesn't matter if it's running Windows build #25000 or Windows build #69420, from the users point of view it's all the same. And soon enough, with more and more being offloaded to the cloud, it wont matter if the computer runs Windows, Linux, macOS, iOS, Android, FreeBSD, or whatever OS China cooks up(they are building their own OS, so they don't need "western" technology), the user experience will be 100% the same, since it's all online anyways.
  • Where's the option for Windows 10? Some might disagree with your desire for change just for change's sake...
  • Honestly agreed here also. Windows 10 is fine.
  • Agreed. I don't see the point.
  • Once Windows 7 becomes truly obsolete (which it really should be by now, but you know how people are), a rebrand from Windows 10 to just 'Windows' would make plenty of sense.
  • Considering Windows 10 is basically works as a service (at least on desktops and not on servers), calling it just Windows just fits well. Actual versioning don't really matter as we keep get the updates. Though still some marketing to communicate what is coming I think why we have this "May Update" or this "Sun Valley". But this is not the "new" version of Windows in traditional per se. Thing is, if we have that Windows 10X update system which is meant to be more seamless, Windows will feel more of a service and updates are less intrusive. For now, updates are still something user will have to mind on next OS restart and for feature update, will take several minutes of downtime depending on PC's performance. So it is still feels like installing "new version" of Windows.
  • I'm still okay with the current naming scheme. For me though, it really is time for Microsoft to take UWP really REALLY seriously! There's so much potential to it, and yet Microsoft themselves didn't bother to convert all their Metro apps into UWP. If Microsoft shows its utmost seriousness with UWP, Windows Phone wouldn't die and it can easily be a solid mobile OS alternative.
  • I wouldn't hold my breath on UWP getting more attention. WinUI is the future of native Windows 10 apps. UWP is only recommended if you want your app to be available in more than one of Microsoft's systems.
  • WinUI isn't an app platform though, that's just the UI libraries that UWP also use. UWP is definitely not the focus anymore for Microsoft, but it is still being used esepcially for some new apps. They just stop pushing it aggressively, if they ever even have done that. There might be still resurgence of UWP push in the future, considering if they really want to move to Windows Core OS platform. Since UWP is purely native to Windows 10X. PWA from Store are essentially wrapped under UWP container, at least what it used to be. Except the ones you just pinned PWA using Edge browser. PWA and UWP can coexist since PWA is a Web-based apps with off-line capability like native apps, while UWP is purely native.
  • As a 30 year Windows veteran as a user and tech support for client and server OSes, I am bailing out of the shambles that is Windows and moving to MacOS. Looking forward to stable and reliable OS and native apps. Can't believe thats not a thing at Windows
  • good luck. my mac devices all get as many if not more updates than windows and the mac update experience isn’t that great either.. plus all the latest macos is biased towards ipad look and feel. kinda lame
  • I don't lose sleep over the naming conventions of operating systems so... whatever.
  • The answer is "yes". It's time for Windows 11
  • "Microsoft Windows" is me choice, but just "Windows" is ok.
  • They should keep it Windows 10, but that's not a choice on the poll.
  • Yes they should. And fire all the people responsible for the horrendous UI that looks like Windows 2.0 from 1987.
  • You're so right! Some of the amateur themes and UI changes I see on a daily basis are leagues above what Windows 10 currently offers. There truly are some amazing themes out there but require a fair bit of work to set up. I don't know why Windows doesn't make that process simpler it would make a world of difference.
    Their latest icon update was a joke too if you haven't seen it....
  • umm if you call it plain 'windows', then how do you plan to search specific errors, features, hints for specific versions?
  • I think just Windows is enough, or Windows + Special names of places (liks Mac Os X) or Windows + A Letter ( E = Enterprise W = Workstation
    H = Home P = Pro and so on... But for me i think just 4 version of Windows is sufficient
    Windows = Home, Pro and Workstation users (most of these versions are the same just som tweaks and unlocks different functions)
    Windows E = Enterprise
    Windows S = Serves
    Windows C = Tablets/Core OS
  • No question about it, Windows 10 Forever!
  • Why does any of this matter? Seriously, this discussion is about something that simply doesn't matter.
  • Those saying just window....numbers are very important. Android moved to numbers bcoz it's way easier for people to know about the version.
    Either it will be windows 10 and 21h2 or it will be called windows 11 21h2.
    Just windows would be dumb n stupid...imo