It’s getting to be that time of year again when holiday wish lists begin to appear. I can remember getting hand-written scrolls — one over three feet long — nicely rolled up, tied with a red ribbon from my son with his gift requests. He’s 15 now, so things are more ad hoc and informal, and more likely to come via email or in conversation. But in that spirit, and with the Insider Team looking to replace the inestimable Ms. Sarkar with someone else, I’d like to share my list of 2020 wishes for the Insider Program with the readers here (and hopefully also with the Insider Team). Here comes a numbered list of wishes, though I hasten to add that the numbers are only for organization and don’t represent importance or priority:
1. Keep making it easier and more fun to work with Feedback Hub. To give credit where it’s due, Feedback Hub has improved quite a bit in the past 18 months or so. It’s easier to search, and the categories for input have become much more granular and refined. Crashes provoke a request to interact with Feedback Hub, but I’d like to see other, less severe errors at run-time do likewise. Also, it might even be cool to let users determine what kinds of errors (from the Event Viewer scheme of Critical, Warning, and so forth) cause this to happen.
2. More testing of releases, and more ranking of issues and problems. MS has no introduced “blocking problems,” which prevent affected machines from receiving certain updates or upgrades until such problems get solved. Love to a see a curated list of such things, in the vein of the Windows 10 1903 Known and Resolved issues list. Are they one and the same? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. More sharing of this valuable take-away from telemetry data would be good, good, good.
3. More interactions and communications with the Insider community from the Insider Team. Right now, the Insider blog is mostly for news and announcements. It doesn’t really foster dialog or interaction. Please, sirs and madames, may we Insiders have some of those things with the Insider Team, too? Regular discussions of “What we like and don’t like about Windows 10” might be a good place to start. Regular “Win10 Town Halls” or “whiteboarding sessions” would also be a good idea.
4. Hooray for the return of PowerToys! We Insiders would like to see more, and can suggest many more new ones. Check out PowerToys at GitHub, and the backlog list (to which you can add suggestions, too).
5. Configuration files and/or tools: A plethora of settings elements and registry entries control much of the look and feel of Windows 10, but they’re scattered all over heck and creation. Sergey Tkachenko has done a nice job of bringing much of this stuff together in his WinAero Tweaker. I’d like to see MS UI folks break up the controls at a similar level of granularity so tweakers can more easily jiggle fonts, UI elements and color schemes, themes, and so forth. Better stilll, I”d like to see this amenable to file-driven or UI-based configuration. This makes such activity much more scriptable, and easier to automate.
6. More intelligible and actionable error reports and diagnoses. I like working with Event Viewer and the Reliability Monitor. But sometimes, decoding error conditions, codes, and related data, then getting to diagnosis and remediation, can be time-consuming and painful. I’d like to see MS flex some of its big data, machine learning, and AI muscles in tying error data to explanations, examinations, prior reports, related MS DOCs content, and so on and so forth. This would really help Win10 professionals and power users get to the bottom of things more quickly and meaningfully when they’re troubleshooting problems, errors, device and driver failures, and so forth and so on.
7. A new take on system clean-up. Disk Cleanup (and its Settings equivalent, and even the GitHub Comet/mdiskcleanup project) all do a pretty good job of cleaning up after upgrades and updates. I’d like to see a tool that you can point at a directory (especially the Downloads and Documents folders) and have it organize stuff by size, date, type, and so forth. Provide controls to sweep older files into a folder off the system/boot drive, or to pick items for sweep/deletion, and you’d have something I could really use. I can do it at the command line or manually in File Explorer, but easy automation would be a treat.
I’m sure I can up with more, but that’s my list as of late October 2019. As new ideas come to me, I’ll be sure to add them here. Sure hope somebody on the Insider Team is paying attention. Feel free to add anything you’d like to see in comments to this list. Any that I particularly like may show up in positions 8 and up. So thanks in advance for that input!
Happy holidays, too! May all your wish lists get plenty of attention and, hopefully also, some meaningful action as well.
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.