We now live in a brave new world of Windows.
It is called Windows as a Service (WaaS) and while Windows Insider Program members have been getting a taste of this since its debut last fall the real implementation begins now with the release of Windows 10 Build 10240.
This is a mind altering, perception crushing change to what we are used to when it comes to Windows and it is time to get onboard with it.
In the blog post that Gabe Aul authored announcing the release of this rumored RTM build he even mentions WaaS:
“This is going to be an exciting couple of weeks, but it is also only the beginning. Windows as a service means that we’ll continue to keep Windows up to date with improvements and features…”
Earlier in the same blog post he mentions that build 10240 is one step closer to what customers will start to receive on 7/29. He then goes on to say that we will see other builds, Windows Updates and app updates in the Windows Store over these final days leading to General Availability.
That is exactly how Windows as a Service will work for everyone after 29 July. If something needs updated then it could feasibly arrive in the form of a new build, a Windows Update or an app update in the Store.
Windows 10 will never truly receive a label that indicates it is done. That is why there has not been a big deal made about RTM by Microsoft because that milestone just does not mean what it once used to in the days of previous versions of Windows and creating the installation media for distribution to partners and retail channels.
As Windows 10 arrives we know that some OEMs will be shipping new devices to arrive on your doorstep beginning on 29 July. While we waited months for Windows 8 based machines to hit retail shelves, many of them as non-touch devices, Windows 10 devices will arrive quickly for a couple of reasons.
First – OEMs have been testing Windows 10 right alongside of Insiders since last fall. Many were able to plan their product releases knowing the types of features Windows 10 would come with and they have drivers ready to go. They also have hardware on the market that is Windows 10 ready and will upgrade to Windows 10 without skipping a beat.
Second – is what I would call the Surface effect. When Microsoft decided to build Surface they iterated quickly and learned from mistakes of the previous generation of the hardware. Today the Surface Pro 3 is the standard in this form factor and it has had a tremendous impact on OEMs.
As I checked out the hardware that was on display at Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference in Orlando this week you could see how devices are becoming innovative in their form factors and functionality. We no longer see the cheap feeling plastic laptops and tablets that are so common on store shelves. They might be plastic in some cases but they sure don't feel like it.
You might recall all the news in the last two weeks where it was reported that OEMs would not have Windows 10 devices on the shelves by 29 July, then OEMs fired back and said oh yes we will. They are no longer OK with just waiting for the normal development and roll out process that existed in the past. They want to be in the market with Windows 10 devices – no more waiting casually as months pass away like with Windows 8.
This is all happening because of how Windows 10 has changed the perception of what an operating system is and how it should be developed and rolled out.
We live a new world of WaaS and even our own old habits relating to Windows have to change and adapt. The need for clean installs is not as prevalent anymore with the reset option in Windows 10. While some have experienced bad/broken upgrades in the past Windows 10 will make sure someone has addressed compatibility issues 100% before the upgrade even begins – in the past those things were just casual cautionary recommendations and many just plowed forward with terrible results. Of course, those results were blamed on Windows and not third party drivers and software.
Since last fall I have upgraded a variety of systems to different builds of Windows 10 and have only experienced three failures. Each of those gracefully rolled back to the previous operating system without an issue allowing me to try again without loss of data.
Last week I mentioned on Twitter that I had upgraded my wife’s Windows 8.1 desktop to Windows 10 Build 10166. My wife is what I would call an everyday user and her computer is like an appliance for her. She expects it to power up and just work which is what the vast majority of Windows users around the world do as well.
She has not skipped a beat since it was installed and that is going to be the difference between the launch of Windows 8 and Windows 10.
I was working in retail when Windows 8 came out and people walked into the store with a high level of dislike for the new OS. When asked why I typically heard statements like I heard/read/saw that it is bad. When I asked if they had tried it they almost always stated no and so I would do a quick five minute demo to alleviate some of their concerns. It was amazing the difference in perception once they learned about the capabilities for themselves and not just based on what was being widely reported.
That will not be the case with Windows 10 and all you have to do is look at how Microsoft is marketing this last monolithic release of Windows as Kevin Turner put it at the WPC Day 3 Vision keynote.
While the Start Menu is not the one we know from Windows 7 it blends elements of it so that it is indeed familiar. Next they now allow Windows Store apps to run in a windowed environment if the user chooses to do so. There are now windows on Windows once again for all apps and programs that run on it – familiar.
My daughter used her Mom’s computer one day last weekend with Windows 10 and her big reaction was thank goodness I don’t have to deal with the full screen stuff anymore.
Behind the scenes Windows 10 is more secure in many ways and, while it also introduces some advanced options for security such as Windows Hello, the smartest move is the mandatory Windows Updates on Home versions of the OS.
I can not tell you how many PC repairs I have done over the years because a system was not being updated for months on end and sometimes even years.
I know many out there will disagree with that mandatory participation in updates but it is really targeted at the everyday users and not those of us who are geeks. In our cases we need to get Windows 10 Professional so we can exercise that control if we want the capability.
Is this journey into the world of WaaS going to be perfectly smooth? Not at all – it is new and untested in many ways on this scale. I would like to point over at Office 365 and how that suite of software gets regular updates for features, security and functionality. That is Software as a Service (SaaS) and is a great stepping stone to WaaS for Microsoft because they have learned over the course of Office 365‘s existence how to manage that type of service.
So fasten your seat belts and strap into your desk chairs because a new journey is about to begin.
Welcome to Windows as a Service.