Found a fascinating Windows 10 retrospective on ZDNet yesterday. It’s from my old friend, Ed Bott. It’s entitled “Windows 10 turns five: Don’t get too comfortable, the rules will change again.” He’s a little off, though: the GA release for Windows 10 occurred on July 29, 2015, while the first Technical Preview for Windows 10 appeared on October 1, 2014. Even so, Windows 10 is indeed five years old and a bit more, because my own personal experience with the OS goes back to October 2, 2014, the day after the Tech Preview popped up.
Bonne Anniversaire Win10, Bott-style
Here’s how Ed claims to celebrate these Windows 10 anniversaries (or near-anniversaries, as the case may be), quoted verbatim:
As is traditional, I celebrated the occasion by upgrading a small data center’s worth of Windows 10 devices to the new build and monitoring for glitches. This year, the process was refreshingly uneventful and almost shockingly fast. On newer PCs, almost everything happened in the background, and the wait after the final reboot was typically five minutes or less.
This is very much in line with my own experience, except I do it at least a dozen times every month. That’s figuring on weekly releases of Insider Preview Fast Ring builds on 2 PCs (8-10), plus Slow Ring upgrades at least monthly on one PC (1 or 2), and Release Preview upgrades once or twice a month on one PC (1 or 2). Then throw in twice-a-year feature upgrades on 6 more PCs (12 total). That’s a lotta upgrades! Hopefully, it’s comparable with Ed’s “small data center’s worth of Windows 10 devices.”
A Deeper Understanding of “Windows as a Service”
Ed’s biggest point in the story, with which I agree completely, is that we really do see a complete reimagining of what Windows is with Windows 10, especially as it’s delivered now. What used to come in a box, with physical media and perhaps even a hologram sticker, now comes online with little fanfare or hoopla. Even when you buy Windows 10 retail nowadays you’re paying for a product key with minimal, if any, packaging (you can pay extra to get it on a USB Flash Drive).
Everything comes online now, thanks to faster, more ubiquitous broadband in most locations around the globe. He also talks persuasively about how UWP apps have become irrelevant at the same time that the Microsoft Store has more “stuff” to offer us than it ever has before. Quite rightly, Bott observes blurring in “the lines between Windows apps and legacy desktop programs.” He points to the recent release of the Windows File Manager from Windows 3.1 (originally released on April 6, 1992, just over 28 years ago) as a case in point. Once again, I concur with his analysis.
He goes onto document some of the various changes that have affected Windows 10 in the “Windows as a Service” model. Most interestingly he shows how lifecycles for various products have been tweaked. Thus, the March targeted releases (H1) for all products have a lifespan of 18 months. So does those for the September targeted releases (H2) for Pro, Home and Office 365 ProPlus. Windows 10 Education and Enterprise, OTOH, have lifespans of 30 months for the H2 release, much more in keeping with refresh/upgrade intervals at big companies, government agencies, and education providers (school systems, colleges and universities).
He also recalls the 1809 update — when Microsoft skipped its Release Preview cycle and unleashed the OS on the whole world less tested than usual — as a “disastrous … update.” Further, he recalls that “That buggy release was the first ever to be pulled from Microsoft’s servers just days after its release, and it took six weeks to investigate the underlying issues and resume the rollout.” (Our own Kari wrote about this with some aspersion on October 6, 2018, and again on October 10 and November 11 when its re-release resumed.)
Microsoft Telemetry Is Benign Gets Reaffirmed
Bott also put paid to conspiracy theorists who have long asserted that Microsoft telemetry is at best intrusive and at worst pillaging your personal and system data. All three relevant paragraphs on this topic are worth quoting (FWIW, Kari liked it too):
And then there were the most determined conspiracy theorists of all, who were convinced that Microsoft designed the Windows 10 telemetry subsystem to Hoover all your personal information into the Azure cloud for … some nefarious purpose. Over the past five years, Microsoft has published extensive documentation of exactly what data it collects, and even rolled out a Diagnostic Data Viewer utility that lets you inspect the data for yourself.
There have been some privacy issues with Windows and Office over the past few years, most of them centered on data handling requirements related to the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). But on this topic, I’ll simply repeat what I said last year:
As any Sherlock Holmes fan will appreciate, the most persuasive piece of evidence here is the dog that didn’t bark. Privacy researchers have had four [make that five now – Ed] years to dig into telemetry transmissions from Windows 10, using their own tools as well as the official data viewer. So far, no privacy advocates or government agencies have come forward with any discoveries that contradict Microsoft’s insistence that telemetry data is used only for product improvement.
Thanks, Ed: Keep Calm, and Carry On!
By and large, Bott seems as convinced of Windows 10’s viability and suitability for purpose (Desktop OS) as Kari and I both are. It’s always nice to see other experts sharing fundamentally similar views of what’s happening out there in the world. It helps fend off the occasional thoughts that we’re mostly imagining things, lost in a dream within a dream. Not!
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.