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July 6, 2020

Win10 Release Makeover Matches Azure Schedule

A number of recent news stories have observed that a shift in Windows 10 release scheduling is in the works. Thanks to Kari the Finn, I picked this notification up from TenForums. It cites a story from Zac Bowden at Windows Central, who in turn cites to long-time Windows watcher and maven at ZDnet, Mary Jo Foley (MJF). This original bit of intelligence comes from her own off-the-record internal MS sources. It’s entitled “Here’s the real reason Microsoft is already testing publicly next spring’s Windows 10 release.” In fact, it does a pretty good job of zeroing on prime causation. It’s an Azure thing, says MJF, and it relates to Azure’s own under-the-hood use of a customized version of Windows Server at its core. Until recently, the Windows and Azure teams were independent. But now that Windows is part of (and essentially reports to) Azure, that Windows core OS is becoming a priority for all kinds of reasons. Thus, the Win10 release makeover matches Azure schedule needs so the Azure team can use “the most up-to-date version of Windows core instead of a much older version.” (Quotation comes verbatim from MJF’s story, and explains a lot.)

Win10 Release Makeover Matches Azure Schedule.logo

Instead of coming late to a Windows OS core, Azure (as the dog) wags the tail (Windows 10).

Now the Boss Calls the Shots, and Sets the Schedule

Going forward, MS client OS developers will continue to roll out twice-a-year feature updates around April and October (putative: more like May and November in terms of General Availability). But they will also be working toward internal-only deadlines for the core OS bit for December and June. This lets Azure synch its own core to as much of that core as Windows Server shares with Windows 10 (quite a bit — as much as half — as it turns out). That explains why MS is building 19H2 as a one-time extension to 19H1 with patches and features, with future plans to “back-port some of the 20H1 platform features to 19H2.” This razzle-dazzle is required so that MS can make a 19H2 release soon, yet still offer up a solid, workable core OS (for 20H1) by December, to get onto the Azure schedule.

In the long run, I hope this means that their Azure overlords will also start requiring the Insider Team to use the kinds of testing, quality control, and responsiveness to feedback that any serious cloud-based environment must maintain. Perhaps somebody from the Azure world can step in to fill Dona Sarkar’s stylish but now-empty shoes. Hopefully, that leads the Insider Team into a more customer-forward and -friendly incarnation, and happier, more productive and helpful Insiders, too. Here’s hoping!

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.

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