As of July 2006, Microsoft has embarked on a path to improve the security of its software, combat software piracy, and improve the OS interface to compete with Apple's OS X.
Since its release, Windows Vista no longer comes with volume license keys to businesses to assist with activating an unlimited number of copies of Windows Vista on PCs. This is seen by Microsoft as a first step in controlling the piracy issue.
The interface has improved somewhat, although at the expense of performance. A recent SP update (November 2007) has gone to some lengths to address the performance issues and remove bugs in the interface. However, in 2008, Microsoft has released Windows XP Pro and Vista in 64-bit versions and will release in 2010 Microsoft Office version 12.0 as a 64-bit software option. This will provide significant performance improvements using the 64-bit architecture of the latest new microprocessors and the upcoming new motherboards to handle these chips.
In the meantime, most PC users are happy to stick to Windows XP unless your business needs the faster to get ahead of the competition.
NOTE: Microsoft will be unveiling several critical patches to make Windows XP run on computers without a hard drive.
Microsoft Windows 7, the successor to XP, was released in late 2009. A significant amount of legacy code had been removed to make it able to run on NetBooks running at 1GHz processor speed and 1GB RAM and install within 30 minutes (compared to 45 minutes for Windows Vista). Some time-saving features like the ability to automatically change the printer when you change to another network, and enhancements to the taskbar to make life easier. Also a big improvement is less annoying messages about what the OS and other applications are doing. The changes are reasonable, but not exactly enough to see lots of Windows XP users make the move to Windows 7.
Windows 8 seems to be an attempt to work with mobile devices by showing a kiosk (or tablet) mode option where people can click large colourful buttons arranged in a pretty way on any touch screen PC tablet. You can set it up to look like the familiar Windows XP and Windows 7. Greater emphasis on accessing the cloud services from Microsoft and other features suggest this one is geared up to attract PC consumers but not necessarily PC business users.
Windows 10, released in the second half of 2015, appears to be a consolidation of established and well-tested technologies from previous Windows versions, but adding a few new and relatively useful features and with greater emphasis on quicker boot times as well as more enhanced and fancier security features (including the ability to access your PC through fingerprint touch or facial recognition). Comes with a fancy digital assistant to help you get things done on your PC and help you become proficient in the features of Windows 10. This version is also designed to constantly check online and provide you with updates for your Windows 10 and various apps. There is no option for users to disable updates. Other than that, Microsoft seems to be following Apple (currently being watched by Microsoft as the test bed for implementing new ideas including ways to combat software piracy by getting people to go online and having things constantly checked and present updates to you as well as create a profile of who you are) by having its own Windows store where you can buy software apps, games, movies, music and your favourite TV shows. Finally, due to the difficulty of getting most PC users to move to the latest OS, Microsoft is offering a free upgrade to Windows 10.