Windows 10
Cortana is an exclusive feature of Windows Phone for Windows 10. The final Cortana release for iOS and Android platforms is expected to arrive this year. Reuters/Kim Kyung-Hoon

Windows 10 is pegged as Microsoft's next great operating system, but it also will be the tech giant's last as a formally released OS. Rather than launching a new piece of software a few years from now, Windows 10 will be consistently improved through updates, according to the Redmond, Washington, company.

"Windows will be delivered as a service bringing new innovations and updates in an ongoing manner," Microsoft told the BBC this week. The statement came after one of the company's employees spoke at the Microsoft Ignite conference in Chicago and said Windows 10, which is due this summer, would be the "last version" of the operating system.

There won't be a Windows 11, but that doesn't mean Microsoft will be ending Windows or ditching the software. Instead, it will update the operating system consistently and add new improvements and features at all times. This is similar to how Google operates the Chrome OS software that powers its Chromebook computers. Rather than coming out with a major new version for Chrome OS every year or so, Google simply has programmers improving it at all times.

For Microsoft, this will be a drastic shift. Traditionally, the company would come out with a major launch, then sit down and work on a new version to be released a couple of years later. That process may have worked in the 1990s and early 2000s, but nowadays, tech moves much faster and that's become an outdated way of developing an operating system. Windows 10 is designed to work across PCs, tablets and smartphones, meaning it needs to be flexible and constantly updated as new devices come out.

Microsoft also is looking to reduce its dependence on Windows for revenue. CEO Satya Nadella is shifting the company's focus to subscription services like Office 365 and Dynamics CRM. Such cloud products allow the company to generate revenue from the cloud on an ongoing basis.