2018 hasn’t been the year of Microsoft. Well, if you are talking about screw up – they are the clear winner. After many attempts to rebrand themselves with Windows 10, things went downhill. Their botches April 2018 update gave people the Blue Screen of Death and freezing issues. Then there was the October 2018 update that deleted files. Last week, Window 10 Pro licenses were being deactivated.
Many have taken Microsoft to task over the quantity over quality approach. Trying to deliver new features rather than making it work. Even in our latest episode of The Lazy Geeks, we discussed the issue at length.
“With Windows 10 alone we work to deliver quality to over 700 million monthly active Windows 10 devices, over 35 million application titles with greater than 175 million application versions, and 16 million unique hardware / driver combinations,” explains Michael Fortin, corporate vice president of Windows. “In addition, the ecosystem delivers new drivers, firmware, application updates and/or non-security updates daily.”
Beware Microsoft Updates
Microsoft has been criticized for shifting the way it tests the operating system. In the past, Microsoft used dedicated Software Test Engineer (STE) roles for ensuring quality. But the software giant axed most of these during a huge round of layoffs a year ahead of the Windows 10 release. Instead, it has favored developers testing their own work, or reports from the Windows Insider feedback program.
“We shifted the responsibility for base functional testing to our development teams in order to deliver higher quality code from the start,” explains Fortin. Microsoft changed the focus of validation testing and added customer feedback into the mix. Engineers also “self host” and install the very latest builds of Windows to test new feature changes and bug fixes. “A strong self-host culture is a source of pride for those of us working on Windows,” says Fortin.
Testing isn’t limited to self-hosting and Windows Insiders, though. Microsoft has specialist testing programs with PC makers. Even commercial customers to ensure bugs are being found. “Even a multi-element detection process will miss issues in an ecosystem as large, diverse and complex as Windows,” admits Fortin. “Our focus until now has been almost exclusively on detecting and fixing issues quickly, and we will increase our focus on transparency and communication.”
We don’t need constant new features
A series of blog posts and improved communication moving forward will be the start for the Windows team. There’s more to be done to polish up Windows 10 itself. It sounds like Microsoft is aware that it doesn’t need to constantly drop big new features into Windows 10 every six months. Now, it can focus on improving some of what’s already there.
“While we do see positive trends, we also hear clearly the voices of our users who are facing frustrating issues, and we pledge to do more,” explains Fortin. “We intend to leverage all the tools we have today and focus on new quality-focused innovation across product design, development, validation, and delivery.”
Microsoft will share details about this new “approach to quality and emerging quality-focused innovation” in future blog posts. We’re expecting to see some changes in the upcoming codename 19H1 update and more coming in the second unnamed update for later in 2019.
In related news…
After the botched release of Windows 10 October 2018, it is being released again. Fingers crossed. It was pulled after a Windows users noticed deletion of files. Then was re-released to beta testers. It has been more than a month of tests.
“In addition to extensive internal validation, we have taken time to closely monitor feedback and diagnostic data from our Windows Insiders and from the millions of devices on the Windows 10 October Update, and we have no further evidence of data loss,” explains Microsoft’s John Cable, director of program management for Windows servicing and delivery.
Windows 10 October 2018 Update will now hit Windows Update for a small percentage of users today. People will need to seek it out by checking for updates for it to even be installed.
Even then, the update might not appear if there is an app compatibility issue. Microsoft is taking a very cautious approach. “If we detect that your device may have an issue, such as an application incompatibility, we will not install the update until that issue is resolved, even if you ‘Check for updates,’ so you avoid encountering any related problems,” says Cable.