Microsoft revised its Windows 10 development model this week, breaking the links between features and specific versions so that the former can be deployed “when they’re done.”
“While features in the active development branch may be intended for a future version of Windows 10, they are no longer tailored to a specific version of Windows 10,” Brandon LeBlanc, senior program manager on the Windows Insider team, wrote in one December 16 Post in a company blog. “New features and operating system improvements made in this branch during these development cycles will appear in future versions of Windows 10 as they become available.”
Since the launch of Windows 10 in mid-2015, Microsoft has publicly linked features to the intended versions, usually by introducing a blog post related to the preview build in which they debuted. Microsoft has strengthened these connections by repeating important new functions every time it describes the upcoming version. Occasionally, the links had to be broken when the company in Redmond, Washington withdrew a function that was previously planned for a specific version. But that was rare.
(One of the most well-known features brought out of a release were Windows Sets, which were touted in 2017 and were scheduled for an upgrade in 2018, but ended up not appearing.)
The difference between the old way and LeBlanc’s description of the new one may be too subtle to be noticed by outsiders. Microsoft almost certainly hasn’t shared in the past everything related to planning the content of an upgrade that is pending and has now passed. This will be just as certain in the future. What Microsoft does not say to its customers, to quote a former Secretary of Defense, are the “unknown unknowns – those we don’t know, we don’t know”.
By claiming “When They Are Ready” as a guide to future functionality, Microsoft implied that at least some hadn’t when they were included in previous upgrades. It’s a puzzling, even risky thing to do when customers pause for a moment to record the sentence and inevitably ask, “Wait, weren’t you ready before?”
Microsoft’s newly discovered stance on “not until it’s done” reminded browsers who had used this model long ago when they released seven or more new versions each year. It is not for browser developers that a function misses the intended “train” or version. The function can intercept the next six or eight weeks later. That was the whole point of a more-is-better release strategy.
However, the analogy does not follow closely. That’s because new Windows 10 features can only capture two moves a year, not seven or eight (as with Chrome) or 12 or 13 (Firefox). Miss one and there is at least six months of waiting.
Or double that.
In 2019, Microsoft released a major version in spring and a minor version in autumn. The latter is little more than a repeat of the former, a “service pack” retread with few new functions that have no meaning. If Microsoft maintains this cadence in 2020 and beyond, delayed characteristics of the substance could be postponed for an entire year.
Speaking of major and minor …
Microsoft has not yet answered one of the Windows 10 questions from 2019: is the main (spring) and secondary (autumn) upgrade plan a one-off or the new normal?
Over a month ago Computer world predicted that Microsoft would tilt its hand if it started previewing the next version of Windows 2004, the spring 2020 upgrade that is completed or almost completed by accounts. When Microsoft started sowing insider participants with early code for 21H1 (Microsoft’s code name for the upgrade, which was finally released in spring 2021), 2020 would repeat the 2019 cadence, a major and then a minor version. But if Microsoft instead planned the second upgrade for next year, 21H2For insiders, this would be proof that the 2017-2018 model was restored with two relatively similar functional enhancements.
What Computer world ignored – like someone asked to predict a coin toss without considering that it ends on the sidelines – neither was. By separating functions from certain versions, Microsoft can avoid the question of what comes after Windows 10 2004. What is previewed about Insider can be 20H2, 21H1, or both.
Le Blanc also gave no clues. “We can provide these new features and operating system improvements as full operating system build updates or maintenance versions,” he wrote, covering both major (full operating system) and minor (maintenance) versions.
Cynics might be tempted to view the entire instance – “when they’re ready” – as a smoke screen that Microsoft can use to delay the decision about which cadence to upgrade for 2020. There may be something wrong: Microsoft Has said it is “Monitor feedback closely” from Major-Minor “Pilot” from 2019. What about the small update of the year? 1909Since companies have only been available for a month and see how companies have probably done almost nothing with the service pack since then, there is likely to be little to no feedback to monitor at this point. The company may want more time to assess the 2019 cadence and determine if it worked for key customers, companies.
By claiming that no feature is assigned a specific upgrade ahead of time, Microsoft can continue to issue new code for insiders to test without committing to a release model.
Although it can be dangerous to rationalize decisions that others make – there is a risk that something will be organized without coherence – it doesn’t stop there Computer world.
Separating functions from releases so that the former are only added to the latter when they are ready can indicate that Microsoft expects a slow, if not necessarily slower, upgrade pace – one that is not in a hurry.
(If so, the Windows 10 1809 debacle in Redmond must still sting more than it has publicly announced. Slowing the pace of release will give Microsoft and its insiders more time to test.)
This in turn points to the slower of the two cadences in question: the major minor publications of 2019.
But if that’s the case, why should you change the feature release relationship? Assume that this year’s pace is maintained next. What does Microsoft say “((Features)) are no longer tailored for a specific version of Windows 10”?
Is it because the link is becoming less and less important and that there will really only be one? feature Annual upgrade? What exactly was the purpose of this year 1909, an update that was in no way an upgrade, what with so few new features, improvements, or improvements over 1903? Was it just a version that qualified for 30 months of support for Windows 10 Enterprise users?
This could be arranged without the hassle of creating a Potemkin upgrade for fall: just announce that the spring update, which actually includes new features, will be supported for 30 months on Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education.
And then start the autumn upgrade so there is only one every year.