Exactly six weeks ago, on October 2nd, 2018, Microsoft released Windows 10 version 1809, the October update. Half jokingly, I think it might be renamed to Win10 Xmas Update. We all know what happened three days later: this feature upgrade was pulled back. Ed wrote about various issues the upgrade had, so I’ve no reason to list them again.
I have also written about problems with Windows testing and delivery. In my opinion, the Windows Insider team can and should be held accountable for each and every issue in the Windows delivery system and problems with general releases. If it were any other company, we users would have heard and seen public apologies, together with explanations about what caused these issues. We would’ve also heard about a new release date.
Sadly, this is not the way Windows Insider team works. In fact, they act in the opposite way: for example, all tweets that mention the release and pull-back of version 1809 and its issues have been deleted. The Team is doing its best to remove all signs of a prior 1809 release from documented history on social media. Microsoft itself or its Insider team have done absolutely nothing to explain the situation, nor have they released any apology to users affected by their extremely bad decision to skip the Insider Release Preview ring. Had they followed precedent, it would have given them a few days to review feedback before the general availability release. Indeed, it might have avoided public humiliation simply by keeping the release process intact. Instead, as Brandon LeBlanc from the Insider team revealed, they skipped it intentionally:
No. Technically we released it to the Release Preview *at the same time*. And we did this on purpose. We're using RP for servicing validation and roll-out testing which is why we held it for today.
— Brandon LeBlanc (@brandonleblanc) October 2, 2018
Two things are strange about that tweet. First, Brandon acknowledges that they didn’t release the build first to Release Preview Ring on purpose. Second, he describes the purpose of that ring as “servicing validation and roll-out testing”. Why skip validation and testing this time? I’m afraid that’s a question we will never get answered. By the way, don’t be surprised when reading this post later on if the previous embedded tweet isn’t shown! I believe this one tweet was left online accidentally when MS made its “Great 1809 tweet purge”. If and when that happens, I will replace the preceding item with a screenshot I have already prepared from the original.
The Insider team has shown that they really do not go through user feedback. That’s understandable, if you think about the millions of Insiders and the volume of feedback involved. However, as they have launched a campaign at the same time to show how even individual, practically not upvoted feedback can impact Windows 10 development, it looks as if they were doing damage control, to get Insiders to trust their feedback is important. Here are some examples from this campaign:
Shoutout to Anthony L for using Feedback Hub to let us know about an issue in which Outlook 2016 failed to start. We're happy to report that we made a fix for this back in Build 18262. Details via the link to Feedback Hub: https://t.co/W7v2e5InYM pic.twitter.com/ybOOhoCJla
— Windows Insider (@windowsinsider) November 8, 2018
Sending our thanks to Bas K for reporting an issue where Settings would crash when interacting with the Settings on the Windows Security page. We fixed this back in Build 18262! Details via the link to Feedback Hub: https://t.co/VZrRLOv2zj pic.twitter.com/IU9lBSZlyh
— Windows Insider (@windowsinsider) November 9, 2018
The fact is, if you want the Windows Insider team to communicate with you, you must talk about ninja cats and taco hats and say nice things both in the Feedback Hub and on social media. If you voice any criticism or file any actual bug reports, you will be ignored. The focus of the team is on positive feedback, and creating new emojis and badges for Insiders. The whole reasoning behind the Insider program has been quietly changed, from a platform for IT pros and tech enthusiasts to test future releases to a playground for teens.
Here’s my strong, subjective and unvarnished opinion: it’s time for Dona Sarkar to go, and be replaced by a professional. In addition, the Insider team needs to be re-structured. At the moment we users cannot trust anything coming out of the Windows Insider team. Windows 10 might work some of the time, but as with several recent releases, it might not work that well, either.
I am still a keen Insider, with all my devices opted into the Insider for Business Fast Ring. I’ve lost my Windows Insider MVP status because of my critical attitude, but that does not mean I am quitting the program. I just hope it goes back to its roots. Myself being an ex-beta tester (Windows Vista and Windows 7), I miss the times when I had to sign an NDA form before I was allowed to test future releases and submit feedback. I miss the times when all my feedback earned a response, in a professional way.
Windows 10 version 1809 (refers to September 2018), called the October Update (refers to last month), will most probably be released today, the 13th of November. My sources say it might be released quite early, before noon PST. It will be interesting to see if the name changes. That is, the update version number refers to September, its name references the month of October, and it will be released in November. Surely, we’re heading for som interesting times ahead…
Author: Kari Finn
A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.