Kernel Exports Added for Windows 10

Apparently, Windows will forever be version 10.0 with more or less continuous updating now that having Windows on a computer is an ongoing service. Put aside the practical effect of this change on computer usage, notably how poor can be the quality of the supposed service given the frequency and clumsiness of its intrusions on whatever it is that you want your computer for. Put aside even that Windows 10 changes the very meaning of owning a computer and installing an operating system onto it as a general platform for running arbitrary software, including things you’ve written for your own (or in-house) use. Look just at the effect on programming Windows in kernel mode.

The big effect is that the programming interface has become very much more volatile. Just in terms of numbers of functions exported from the kernel, some of the half-yearly updates to Windows 10 add more than did many a service pack in previous decades. The first four of these updates cumulatively extend the interface more than did the major release. If this continues without end, changes to the historical record would soon get lost if they were all bundled into the one page for all of version 10.0. Instead, each update that’s significant enough for Microsoft to assign a version number in the form of year and month will get its own page in this historical survey:

Version Exports Added Windows 10 Exports Discontinued
10.0 214  
1511 20 7 from 10.0
1607 86 13 from 10.0
2 from 1511
1703 64  
1709 54 3 from 10.0
3 from 1703
1803 23  
1809 27  
1903 33 1 from 1803
2 from 1809
1909 1  
2004 57 plus 87 from HAL  

For comparison, remember that the previous record holder for service-pack addition of exported functions to the kernel was Windows Server 2003 SP1. Before it, no service pack had added as many as 10. Windows Server 2003 SP1, which introduced 64-bit Windows to the mass market, added 50. Windows Vista SP1, which doubled as Windows Server 2008, added 35. By this measure, the bi-annual updates of Windows 10 are comparable to (large) service packs and are more frequent. See also that Windows 10 increases not only the rate of addition but also of Microsoft’s willingness to rethink its additions. More than 10% of the newly added exports for the original Windows 10 were gone within little more than two years.

The stand-out exception to the year-and-month releases as large service packs is the 1909 edition. But it’s very much an example of the exception proving the rule. The others may all be major version 10, minor version 0, but they each change the build number. This has gone from 10240 for the original to 19041 for the 2004 edition. The 1909 edition doesn’t change the build number even by 1.