By Woody Leonhard

Microsoft has famously announced that Windows 10 is “the last version of Windows.” Which is to say, uh, Windows 10 is anything but the last version of Windows. However, the release of various versions of Windows 10 has many users shaking their heads wondering why there have been different versions of Windows 10.

Instead of continuing Windows version numbers in the obvious way — say, Windows 10, Windows 10.1, Windows 10.2 Service Pack 17 Update 6, Windows 11, Windows 2019, whatever — Microsoft has developed a new way of naming versions of Windows 10, all to make it look like Windows 10 is an immutable object.

Far from it.

The first version of Windows 10, which didn’t have an official name, arrived in July 2015. People are now calling it Win10 version 1507 — where 15 stands for 2015 and 07 stands for July. Some people call it Win10 RTM, but that’s a blasphemous approach, because Windows as a Service never reaches Release to Manufacturing status. It’s constantly changing. Constantly improving, to hear the marketeers talk about it.

In late 2017, Microsoft vowed to turn out a new version (of “the last version” of Windows 10!) every six months. Many people — present company included — think that’s crazy because it forces customers to install a new version of Windows every six months, more or less, and because the six-month horizon gives very little time to create anything new that’s worthwhile.

But that’s where we stand.

Here are the versions of Windows 10, to date:

  • Version 1507 –RTM released July 29, 2015 — contains the basic elements of Windows 10, few of which worked properly.
  • Version 1511 — Originally Fall Update and later November Update released November 10, 2015 — became the first stable and generally usable version of Windows 10.
  • Version 1607 — Anniversary Update, released August 2, 2016 — spruced up the Start menu and Edge, added the Notification (er, Action) Center, started adding features to the Cortana personal assistant, fleshed out a few of the Universal apps, improved Windows Hello to recognize your finger and your face, and added digital ink so you can draw on things.
  • Version 1703 — Creators Update, released April 11, 2017 — had small improvements for Cortana and the Edge browser, a new privacy settings overview, an easier way to control updates (for Win10 Pro only), and lots of stuff for folks who draw in 3D and use virtual/augmented reality.
  • Version 1709 — Fall Creators Update, released October 17, 2017 — makes OneDrive usable again with Files on Demand, and touches up My People, Cortana, and Edge.
  • Version 1803 — Spring Creators Update, released April 10, 2018 — gets the Timeline, another tweak to My People, more Cortana and Edge, and not a whole lot more.

Of course, each new version of Windows 10 is “the most secure version ever.” That’s been a constant claim since Windows 3.0.

You may have a version later than 1803 (type About in the Cortana search box and press Enter), but chances are good the new features aren’t going to make your life much more interesting.