Microsoft's Problem Isn’t How Often It Updates Windows, It's How It Develops It

Megalith

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Microsoft’s recent fumbles with Windows 10 have prompted critical analyses of what is wrong at Redmond these days, and there appears to be a growing consensus that the root of the issue lies strictly in the OS’s development process: contrary to some complaints, Ars suggests the problem has nothing to do with frequency, but that proper planning and coding has been superseded by laziness, which includes identifying and patching problems only after release.

Microsoft's new development process has, proportionately, a greater amount of time spent writing new features, and a reduced amount of time stabilizing and fixing those features. That would be fine if the quality of the features were higher to start with, with the testing infrastructure to support it and higher standards before new code was integrated. But the experience with Windows 10 thus far is that Microsoft hasn't developed the processes and systems needed to sustain this new approach.
 

clockdogg

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Microsoft's new development process has, proportionately, a greater amount of time spent writing new features, and a reduced amount of time stabilizing and fixing those features. That would be fine if the quality of the features were higher to start with, with the testing infrastructure to support it and higher standards before new code was integrated. But the experience with Windows 10 thus far is that Microsoft hasn't developed the processes and systems needed to sustain this new approach.

Not their problem - it's the stupid users that haven't developed processes and systems to sustain Microsoft's new lazy development & deployment approach. Let them eat Candy Crush!

:p
 

Nenu

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Perhaps its deliberate to distract from their unholy corporate and software design.
 

KedsDead

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I find that last sentence the funniest thing I have read in a long time.. "which includes identifying and patching problems only after release." Microsoft is the father of "Release & Repair" and that started in the late 90's..
 

gunbust3r

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Re-installs are the problem, and that's what the twice yearly "feature update" is. FFS they cant even use the correct name for it.

The starting point is calling it the right GD name and respecting the serious nature of a full re-install, user data and app migration twice a year just for shits and giggles or to throw in paint 3d that 0.0001% of users have ever touched.
 
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Denpepe

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Imo Windows should go back to beeing a (lean) operating system, remove all unnecessary fluff or add those as optional apps if/when the user needs/wants them.

Maybe they should have a look at blizzards way of patching, while still not perfect or flawless, it does work pretty smooth these days, it did take some time and a complete redesign of how they organised their data but is was a huge improvement as to how it was b4.
 
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i think the issue really comes down to "windows 10 updates are problematic from the features being addedin being mostly useless, to the lazy coding practices leading to problems with these updates, to the lack of QA for updates, to the forced nature of updates, all put on top of a fairly crap OS experience to begin with".

of course that is just my personal opinion...
 

nomu

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What makes it worse is that most features they are working on nobody cares about.

And that's been true for basically 20 years now. I shudder to think of the wasted effort now contained in every Windows install, and it's even more horrifying to think of what it would take to identify and rip out all the useless parts.
 

BloodyIron

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Except that Windows Server 2016 IGNORES GPO SETTINGS TO DISABLE AUTO INSTALL OF UPDATES.

Not their problem - it's the stupid users that haven't developed processes and systems to sustain Microsoft's new lazy development & deployment approach. Let them eat Candy Crush!

:p
 

BloodyIron

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And it was lean... when?

Imo Windows should go back to beeing a (lean) operating system, remove all unnecessary fluff or add those as optional apps if/when the user needs/wants them.

Maybe they should have a look at blizzards way of patching, while still not perfect or flawless, it does work pretty smooth these days, it did take some time and a complete redesign of how they organised their data but is was a huge improvement as to how it was b4.
 

BloodyIron

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Hey guys, how about this, if you don't like how Windows is working out for you, how about you actually explore alternatives? Instead of just bitching about it like it's the only option.

95% of the majority of what Windows users care about, is equivalently available on alternative options. I know, because it's my job to know these things.

Don't believe me? Ask me. (specific questions)
 
D

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The old way was better:

- make big mostly stable release
- start working on the lesser bugs that needed addressing before that big release but were not showstoppers
- over a few months begin packaging the bug fixes and new updates/builds/versions of whatever components need updating
- within 12-18 months do a metric fuckton of in-house stability testing for long term distribution
- keep working on things as new reports come in of problems, fixing what the newer updates break ('cause they always do) but stability remains tantamount
- after about 15-18 months start packing all those bug fixes, updates, and patches into a solid service pack to be released in a short period of time
- release the service pack knowing it's been tested out the fuckin' wazoo in-house where it really matters
- fix issues with hotfixes and patches as needed
- start working on the next service pack
- repeat as necessary
- provide decent software and products and people are relatively happy using them

and now because they've shifted to a rolling release (absolutely horrid decision) it's:

- shove a big release down consumers and business owner throats 'cause it's a free upgrade on top of the old shit (that's part of the problem right there already)
- every time something is reported get people working on it then push an update to fix it
- that fix breaks something else
- get more people working on the fix for the update that broke shit it nobody seems to have noticed it broke
- fixers fixing fixes to fixes that break updates meant to fix other shit
- do this on a micro-scale meaning days and weeks between releases of a variety of components and problems compared to the long term ~18 months for a service pack
- keep breaking shit
- keep changing shit
- keep adding shit
- keep removing shit
- keep moving shit around
- repeat as necessary
- wonder why people develop a hatred for Windows 10 and Microsoft's new way of doing things

Someone tell me I'm wrong, I fucking dare you. :D
 

zkostik

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The old way was better:

- make big mostly stable release
- start working on the lesser bugs that needed addressing before that big release but were not showstoppers
- over a few months begin packaging the bug fixes and new updates/builds/versions of whatever components need updating
- within 12-18 months do a metric fuckton of in-house stability testing for long term distribution
- keep working on things as new reports come in of problems, fixing what the newer updates break ('cause they always do) but stability remains tantamount
- after about 15-18 months start packing all those bug fixes, updates, and patches into a solid service pack to be released in a short period of time
- release the service pack knowing it's been tested out the fuckin' wazoo in-house where it really matters
- fix issues with hotfixes and patches as needed
- start working on the next service pack
- repeat as necessary
- provide decent software and products and people are relatively happy using them

and now because they've shifted to a rolling release (absolutely horrid decision) it's:

- shove a big release down consumers and business owner throats 'cause it's a free upgrade on top of the old shit (that's part of the problem right there already)
- every time something is reported get people working on it then push an update to fix it
- that fix breaks something else
- get more people working on the fix for the update that broke shit it nobody seems to have noticed it broke
- fixers fixing fixes to fixes that break updates meant to fix other shit
- do this on a micro-scale meaning days and weeks between releases of a variety of components and problems compared to the long term ~18 months for a service pack
- keep breaking shit
- keep changing shit
- keep adding shit
- keep removing shit
- keep moving shit around
- repeat as necessary
- wonder why people develop a hatred for Windows 10 and Microsoft's new way of doing things

Someone tell me I'm wrong, I fucking dare you. :D

They are just repeating this Apple hipster shit. It just went totally consumer with no regard for people who actually work on their computers.
 

nilepez

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Microsoft would do a lot of people a favor by creating a "Windows for Workstations" SKU that slowed down the micro-release cadence, rolled back the forced updates and gave businesses the Windows 7 experience they desire.
Although I haven't seen it, I'd swear they announced that sku a t least a year ago.
 

DrezKill

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"Last year's October update introduced a new feature for OneDrive: placeholders to represent files that were stored in OneDrive, but not downloaded locally. Whenever an application tries to open the files, OneDrive will transparently fetch the file from cloud storage and save it locally, without the application ever knowing that the file was initially not available locally. ...A reasonable expectation is that Microsoft would have a set of tests around this new code to verify that it works correctly: create a file, check it syncs properly, delete the local copy leaving a placeholder, open the file to have the real file retrieved, delete the file entirely, and so on and so forth. There's a handful of basic operations around manipulating files and directories, and in any kind of respectable agile development process, there will be tests to verify all the operations work as expected, and make sure that the API does what it's supposed to do. Moreover, one would expect any code change that broke those tests to be rejected and not integrated. The code should be fixed, and it should pass its tests, before it's ever merged into the main Windows code—much less shipped to beta testers. And yet, this is not what happened: many of the preview builds had a bug wherein deleting a directory that was synced to OneDrive crashed the machine. Not only was this bug integrated into the Windows code, it was allowed to ship to end users. Either tests do not exist at all for this code (and I've been told that yes, it's permitted to integrate code without tests, though I would hope this isn't the norm), or test failures are being regarded as acceptable, non-blocking issues, and developers are being allowed to integrate code that they know doesn't work properly. From outside we can't tell exactly which situation is in play—it could even be a mix of both—but neither is good."

Wow this is sounding more and more like the fucking game industry. Geezus. You'd be surprised how many bugs in games that cause console certification failures are waived and allowed to ship in the final products. It's one thing when we're talking video games, but taking that approach with a fucking operating system is beyond comprehension.

"Test the software before you ship it, not after." You'd think this would be common fucking sense.

"The company does have plenty of tests; I've been told that a full test cycle for Windows takes many weeks. That full test cycle does get used—just not on the builds that actually ship. The October 2018 update is a case in point: the code was built on September 15. It went public on October 2. Whatever build of RS5 underwent the full testing cycle, it's not the one that we're actually using, because the full testing cycle takes too long."
Well isn't that fucking great for the end users.

In comparison with another company (I think it was Google): "The development mindset is fundamentally different. A new feature might be unstable during its development, but before that feature can be merged into the production code, it has to meet a very high quality bar. Rather than Microsoft's approach of 'merge the bugs now, we'll fix them later,' the approach is to ensure that code is as bug-free as possible before it gets merged." Again, one would think this would be common fucking sense, but apparently not.

"Microsoft's new development process has, proportionately, a greater amount of time spent writing new features, and a reduced amount of time stabilizing and fixing those features. That would be fine if the quality of the features were higher to start with, with the testing infrastructure to support it and higher standards before new code was integrated."
Naw it still wouldn't be fine. Test the everliving fuck outta shit first before you put it out. I'd rather 80% of the time was spent on QA and 20% on designing and coding new features. As others have said, most of the new features end up being shit most people don't give a crap about anyways. I would much rather have a stable and reliable OS.

"...if we cast our minds back to the days of Windows 7 and before, we actually see very similar problems to what we have today. The regular advice was that you shouldn't upgrade to a new version of Windows until Service Pack 1 was out. Why not? Because the initial release would be unacceptably buggy and unstable, and it would take until Service Pack 1 for most of these problems to be worked out. The difference is not that the new approach to Windows development is much worse than it used to be, or that the old process delivered better results; it's that we're seeing that 'wait for Service Pack 1' moment twice a year. With each new update there's a point at which Microsoft deems the code to be good enough for corporate users, perhaps three or four months after the initial release of a feature update, and that's our 'new' Service Pack 1 moment."

Yeah it's always a good idea to wait a few months after a new Win10 update, but it gets annoying having to do that twice a fucking year, or even once a year. Was much more tolerable back when we actually had service packs.

"The fundamental flaw is that destabilizing your codebase by integrating inadequately tested features, and then hoping to fix up all the problems later, is not a good process. It wasn't good when Windows was released every three years, and it's not good when it's released every six months."

As I often complain about: "Microsoft used to have a huge number of dedicated testers, with each feature having both developer and testing resources assigned to it. Many of these testers were laid off or reassigned in 2014, with the idea that more of the testing burden be shifted to the developers creating the features in the first place." I also heard that they did not give these developers extra time for the testing either. They are expected to code and test the features in the same amount of time they had just for coding previously.

And then finally, Microsoft using Insider members as the primary QA testers. Must save a lot of money, Microsoft doesn't gotta pay them.

Yeah, Windows 10 is in great shape indeed. May I suggest a hearty helping of LTSB, or perhaps some Linux with a side of Windows 7?

Windows As A Service? How about Windows as an OS? Can we go back to that please?
 

FLECOM

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Microsoft would do a lot of people a favor by creating a "Windows for Workstations" SKU that slowed down the micro-release cadence, rolled back the forced updates and gave businesses the Windows 7 experience they desire.

look up windows 10 LTSB, it's as close as you can get without using windows 7
 

MV75

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What makes it worse is that most features they are working on nobody cares about.

And the features people do care about they rip out.

The whole laziness thing starts to make sense. The shit they put in that no one uses, they'll not have to develop anymore. The shit they take out, well, they don't have to develop that anymore.
 

ManofGod

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No. How often Windows 10 updates is definitely without question a problem of its own. So is how it updates.

Claiming that the issue is simply how the updates are developed is asinine apologism.

How do you figure this?
 
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I work with a guy who used to QA for MS back in the glory days. They tested everything, including everyone else's software (not made by MS). He did a lot of game testing.
 

Mr. Bluntman

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i think the issue really comes down to "windows 10 updates are problematic from the features being addedin being mostly useless, to the lazy coding practices leading to problems with these updates, to the lack of QA for updates, to the forced nature of updates, all put on top of a fairly crap OS experience to begin with".

of course that is just my personal opinion...

After using Windows 10 for six months as a daily driver, it is pretty shit. It can go back in the oven IMO until either something comes along that I must use it or MS kills Windows 7 support, whichever comes first.
 

Delicieuxz

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How do you figure this?

Two major updates a year are disruptive and require planning and shaping workloads even when the updates go smoothly - especially when there's no guarantee that they will. And not being able to control when they install and when the computer resets is a threat, regardless of how well the updates are developed.

The shoddy development of the updates under Satya Nadella is only one part of a 3-pronged mess that are Windows 10 updates.


How do you figure otherwise?


The fact is, 'Windows as a service' (though, Windows 10 is a product, definitively and legally and 'Windows as a service' only ever was Microsoft's pointless description of their internal development process) is a complete failure even from the first detail of nobody wants it, to the last, which is its deployment in practice.
 

andrewaggb

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My wife and I talk about this all the time. Windows updates are out of control right now, they keep breaking stuff, forcing bad timing etc.
I currently set all my windows 10 pc's to 'pause updates' so I do them once a month. It's better than weekly but this latest feature update broke some of my networking (desktop sharing, office sign-in, and edge - but chrome and ff were working) and I almost reinstalled windows. Instead I found out they have a network reset feature that uninstalls and re-installs all of your network adapters and that seemed to get things working again. Some other update recently messed with my network settings as well and re-enabled a disabled adapter.
 

phatbx133

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Blame to Satya Nadella for put Windows 10 in the wrong direction, Somebody fires him right now...

Bring somebody new leader who has passion, know about Windows inside and outside, listen to all users feedback and support community.
 

H2R2P2

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Microsoft fired all its testers during one of the big layoffs/purges. The current idea is end users are the testers. Thats why they have the Insiders program.
 

heatlesssun

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Blame to Satya Nadella for put Windows 10 in the wrong direction, Somebody fires him right now...

This is what Microsoft's stock price has done since Nadella took over:


upload_2018-10-22_11-13-16.png


No one is going to fire a CEO with this kind of stock performance unless there's some deep corruption or something else afoot.
 
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Vader1975

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I find this to be true for most software companies today. Almost regularless of market. Pushing new features ahead of bug fixing and stability without having a dedicated maintenance coding staff to deal with bugs. So you set a deadline to have all these new features added and you make it agressive and don’t factor in time for stabilization and bug repair and throw in some code red bug fixes and hope all is well with minimal to non-existing quality testing or ignored quality testing. I have seen this over and over again in software companies I worked and work for. I was quite shocked when Apple said they were focusing on stabilizing and fixing OS12 and Mojave instead of adding alot of new features. That took guts. Lets hope the industry takes note.
 

HammerSandwich

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Hey guys, how about this, if you don't like how Windows is working out for you, how about you actually explore alternatives? Instead of just bitching about it like it's the only option.

95% of the majority of what Windows users care about, is equivalently available on alternative options. I know, because it's my job to know these things.

Don't believe me? Ask me. (specific questions)
What other OS runs Office 2013+ & 365 exactly like Windows, so that I can support people who use those packages?
 

Stimpy88

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This is just the way Microsoft sees Windows now. It’s not worth the toilet paper in their bathrooms.

They only want to make it a subscription based OS. It’s their wet dream, and has been ever since Windows 8. It will happen.

And when it does happen, expect them to suddenly fall in love with Windows again, and when the money comes rolling in, then maybe they can be bothered to start fixing the mess it’s become.
 
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heatlesssun

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This is just the way Microsoft sees Windows now. It’s not worth the toilet paper in their bathrooms.

They only want to make it a subscription based OS. It’s their wet dream, and has been ever since Windows 8. It will happen.

And when it does happen, expect them to suddenly fall in love with Windows again, when the money comes rolling in.

Microsoft still makes billions annually from Windows. As for subscription based Windows, that's long been the case with things like volume licensing and software assurance. In the consumer space, I just don't see how it works. Even if it is what Microsoft wants to do like they supposedly wanted to get rid of Win32 and control all software distribution through the Microsoft Store, there's just market realities. As the overwhelming majority of consumer copies of Windows come with hardware and aren't sold standalone, adding a subscription fee simply to turn on and use a PC without something like cell service, I just don't see how that works in the consumer space. Ad-on services like O365 on the other hand, that's a different story.
 

cjcox

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Formula for software revenue success:

  1. Write software
  2. Release software
  3. Introduce bugs
  4. Fix bugs
  5. Go to 2
 

DeathFromBelow

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This is what Microsoft's stock price has done since Nadella took over:

No one is going to fire a CEO with this kind of stock performance unless there's some deep corruption or something else afoot.

This is incredibly short-sighted. Jack Welch drove GE's stock to new heights... and killed the soul of the company in the process. Same with his successors and protege's at other companies who pushed the 'stock price first' mindset.

You can save a lot of money in the short term by cutting less profitable operations and RnD, but what happens when the profitable widget or service you focus the company on is suddenly no longer as profitable a few years down the line? Microsoft is so badly mismanaged that they dropped billions on mobile for literally no return, and now the monopoly desktop OS product that was once the core of their business is now at risk. Are web services like Azure really a sure bet? Growth for Azure/AWS/etc already seems to be slowing and Microsoft isn't in a dominant position.
 
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