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July 5, 2020

Windows 10 2004 Deprecations and Removals

Every time MS releases a new feature upgrade — including this week’s latest such item: Windows 10 Version 2004 — it deprecates some capabilities and removes others. Deprecation means “not gone yet, but on its way out, so find an alternative for the future.” Removal means what it says: features formerly present in Windows 10 are now gone, gone, gone. Microsoft labels deprecated items as “Features we’re no longer developing,” and dropped items as “Features and functionality removed.”  Here’s a compound table lifted directly from those sources that covers both categories:

Feature Details and mitigation Removed in version
Cortana Cortana has been updated and enhanced in the Windows 10 May 2020 Update. With these changes, some previously available consumer skills such as music, connected home, and other non-Microsoft skills are no longer available. 2004
Windows To Go Windows To Go was announced as deprecated in Windows 10, version 1903 and is removed in this release. 2004
Mobile Plans and Messaging apps Both apps are still supported, but are now distributed in a different way. OEMs can now include these apps in Windows images for cellular enabled devices. The apps are removed for non-cellular devices. 2004
Feature Details and mitigation Announced in version
Companion Device Framework The Companion Device Framework is no longer under active development. 2004
Microsoft Edge The legacy version of Microsoft Edge is no longer being developed. 2004
Dynamic Disks The Dynamic Disks feature is no longer being developed. This feature will be fully replaced by Storage Spaces in a future release. 2004
Features Removed in 2004

Cortana’s not really gone: it’s just been demoted to a background service. But you can’t access it as a standalone app anymore in 2004. Windows To Go has apparently gone, in keeping with its earlier depcrecation. You can use tools to build bootable UFDs and pick an ISO to run (Kari’s and my current favorite for this is Ventoy). By creating an ISO from the install of Windows 10 you want to run, Ventoy will let you do pretty easily what Windows To Go used to do. Good enough for me! Mobile Plans and Messaging apps have essentially faded into the background as well, and become part of the configuration and provisioning for cellular enabled devices (mostly laptops and tablets). If you want that capability you can still get it, but you must bundle it in with a device and make the proper service arrangements after (or as a part of) its purchase. No biggie!

Features Deprecated in 2004

Deprecation of the Companion Device Network (see link in table for more info) essentially acknowledges that the CDN wasn’t picked up by enough device makers to justify its continued support and development. So it’s going away, probably when the successor to Windows 10 2004 is released. And with biometric devices (especially fingerprint scanners, and face recognition-capable cameras) proliferating, alternatives to biometrics within the Hello framework hasn’t proved either popular or necessary (PINs and Passwords still do the job, apparently). The Microsoft Edge announcement simply validates the long-known retirement of the pre-Chromium code base for Edge. Hardly anybody uses it anymore anyway. It’ll disappear with the 2004 successor for sure. Dynamic Disks’ deprecation probably reflects their infrequent use (and definitely reflects aggravating issues that those bold enough to use the technology so frequently report).Their pending removal may inconvenience some users who’ve stubbornly stuck with using them, but IMO nobody will be sorry to see them go. I’m not sure, however, that Storage Spaces’ stability and reputation recommends them strongly as a suitable alternative. For those determined to combine multiple physical disks into one or more logical volumes, most experts still recommend hardware RAID adapters as the most reliable approach.

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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