In just over a week we will arrive at both the end and beginning of the journey to Windows 10.
With Windows 10 Microsoft has been more open and released builds to testers earlier than ever before for a Windows operating system beta. They have also established channels of communications for public and community feedback to augment the telemetry they gather as we use Windows 10.
The very public pre-release Windows Insider Program, which has tested Windows 10 since last year, will close its doors while a new post-release version of that same Windows Insider program will kick off after 29 July 2015.
Microsoft’s approach to Windows 10 is forcing us to change our mindset about the traditional Microsoft operating system in many ways and I wanted to take today’s countdown post and list 5 of those reasons for the shift in our thinking.
1. Windows as a Service (WaaS).
WaaS does not mean Windows as a Subscription. Microsoft is not going to suddenly ask us to pay a monthly fee to use Windows in a couple of years. WaaS means they will be updating the system on a continual basis for both security and features/enhancements. These updates will arrive via Windows Update as they are ready after having been tested through Microsoft’s internal ring of testers and then the Fast and Slow ring of Windows Insiders in the post-release Insider program. Through feedback and telemetry Microsoft can validate these updates before they are pushed to users and businesses. By making Windows 10 updates mandatory for Home users it will mean those systems are going to be less susceptible to issues that arise from lack of updating. For the vast majority of everyday computer users this will be behind the scenes and of hardly any impact.
2. No such thing as Release to Manufacturing (RTM).
Everyone keeps trying to pin the label RTM on one of the recent builds of Windows 10 – mostly 10240 – that was released last week to Windows Insiders. In this age of WaaS there is no such thing as the final version of Windows 10. It is an outdated concept that dates back to a milestone in the Windows development cycle that marked the code as gold so it could be sent to partners and OEMs so they could prepare hardware for retail. This usually occurred 2-3 months before the OS’s General Availability date.
3. Clean installs are a thing of the past.
In the days of Windows XP and Vista I always found myself reinstalling the OS every six months or so to clean things up. I was a beta tester and installed a lot of programs to try out – those were the heady days of Shareware – so the system would just start to bog down after a while. In Windows 7 I found the need for those bi-annual clean installs had nearly disappeared. When Windows 8/8.1 arrived the OS update introduced Refresh and Reset options which allowed you to both refresh the system settings and keep your files and apps intact. On the other hand resetting your system basically took it back to the original operating system and asked you to repeat the Out of the Box Experience (OOBE) just like the day you bought/installed the system. Windows 10 continues that with the Reset option in the Update and Security>Recovery area of the Settings app. A full reset of your system performs the same functionality as clean installing from an ISO image.
4. The public becomes partners in the testing and validation of OS updates and fixes.
I alluded to this at the top of this piece when I mentioned the Windows Insiders Program. If you are familiar with how the Insider program has been conducted since last fall you know that Microsoft tests builds in its own testing rings and once a build or update meets certain quality goals it is then pushed outside of Microsoft to the Windows Insider Fast Ring (historically about 10% of the Insider population). Once Microsoft was satisfied with the quality and performance of those updates that build would be pushed to Slow Ring Insiders. The additional step after 29 July is that those updates, once tested as described above, will then be pushed out to Windows 10 Home users for further validation before they are sent to Windows Update for Business.
5. No more synchronized Start menus or app installs.
If you are a Windows 8/8.1 user like I am this might be very disappointing loss of functionality. It is also not a deprecated feature that has gotten much discussion at all throughout the development of Windows 10. In Windows 8/8.1 changes to your Start Screen layout were synched between devices using the same Microsoft Account and then any apps installed on one device under that same account would also show up on other devices ready for install. I suspect the wider variety of device sizes may have been a consideration in dropping the Start Menu/Screen sync as what looks good for a layout on one device would look horrible on another. However, placing a shortcut to an app that you installed on another device would not cause those some issues. I hope to see at least the app synching return in a future update.
What is one thing about Windows 10 that has changed your perception of the operating system?