The main operating systems, roughly in order of popularity, are Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Android, and ChromeOS.
Over the last 19 years, Mac OS has moved from 10.1 to 10.15, and in the coming months we should see 11.0. The changes thus far have been evolutionary rather than revolutionary; there have been ups and downs, but the biggest gotchas have been when newer releases refuse to be installed on older hardware.
Currently, there are no special “editions” of MacOS. To determine what version of MacOS you are running, simply click the Apple and choose “About This Mac”.
Over the same time 19 years, Windows has moved from XP to Vista and then from 7 to 8 to 8.1, and now to 10. Since the release of Windows 10 in 2015, it has been nice not to have to learn an all-new version of Windows every 3-5 years. Thankfully, there is no plan for a Windows 11.
Windows 10 is still evolving; once or twice per year, we get a major update identified simply by the year and month (YYMM) of its release. So far we have had 1507, 1607, 1709, 1803, 1809, 1903, 1909, and 2004. You can check which version you are on by running “winver” from the Start Menu, Run dialog, Command Prompt, or PowerShell. If you are running 1903 or older, you should update.
Sidebar: If you would like to get the latest major Windows 10 update, simply go to https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/software-download/windows10, click “Update now”, run the download, and follow the prompts.
Because Microsoft doesn’t like being pinned down to a particular month for a software release date, the latest release that just came out in October is called 20H2, denoting “the second half of 2020”. This will be their naming convention, moving forward.
As of this month, all but Windows 8.1 and the last few versions of 10 have been fully retired. Win10 1909 and 2004 will be retired sometime in 2021, while 8.1 won’t be laid to rest until 10Jan2023.
There have been many “editions” of Windows over the years, but Windows 10 basically comes in five: S, Home, Professional, Enterprise, and Education. Windows 10 S is locked down to only allow installations via the Microsoft Store. Home has everything that most people need. Pro, Enterprise, and Education are virtually identical and have only a few extra features over Home. (For details on editions, I defer to the Wikipedia entry for “Windows 10 Editions”.)
I won’t go into the multitude of “distributions” of Linux, but their version numbers tend to follow the year, so many of them are on version 20 or 21 with cute names like Groovy Gorilla or Hirsute Hippo. ChromeOS is now up to version 88. iOS is up to version 14. Android is up to version 11.
Keeping current is a never-ending game.