The past six weeks have not been pleasant for Microsoft. The company released the October 2018 Update in early October and had to pull it -- Microsoft called it pause -- to deal with data loss bugs and other issues that plagued the millions of users that installed the update in the four days it was available.
It took Microsoft until November 13, 2018 to hit start again and release the new feature update for Windows 10; this time, the speed in which the update is distributed appears to be even slower than before, likely to make sure that no other stopper bugs are found.
Michael Fortin, Corporate Vice President, Windows, published a text on the Windows Experience Blog, Windows 10 Quality approach for a complex ecosystem, that deals with update quality and updating in general.
The October 2018 Update fiasco is dealt with in the first paragraph only; the update had a "small but serious issues" and was the first feature update that Microsoft had to pause.
Data shows, according to Fortin, that update quality is better than ever. The improvement is visualized in a graph that highlights the customer incident rate over time in hundreds per million devices.
The rate went down from an all-time high in 2015 but Microsoft made changes to the graph to increase the effect it has on people that just glance at it.
The first issue is that the graph begins at 0.4k and not at 0k in the Y-Axis. If you normalize it you'd see little progress near the end of the chart.
The metric that Microsoft uses is "hundreds per million devices" suggesting that one has to multiply the values with 100 to get the right number of incidents. If that is the case, that 0.4k figure would actually be 40k per one million devices instead or 4% of the entire population.
Lastly, while the graph highlights improvements made to the update quality of Windows 10 updates, it gives no indication whether the quality was better or worse in previous versions of Windows.
Fortin throws in some big numbers to highlight how diverse the Windows landscape is.
With Windows 10 alone we work to deliver quality to over 700 million monthly active Windows 10 devices, over 35 million application titles with greater than 175 million application versions, and 16 million unique hardware/driver combinations. In addition, the ecosystem delivers new drivers, firmware, application updates and/or non-security updates daily.
One has to wonder whether that approach -- we are doing better than ever -- is the right approach after the release of a feature update that had to be paused for six weeks due to data loss issues and other issues.
Microsoft promises to be more transparent about the updating process and quality testing, but it made the same promise previously and it did not help address the underlying issue. In other words: the perception of quality that a, seemingly, growing number of users and administrators have is at odds with Microsoft's data driven approach to quality.
Microsoft needs to rethink the rapid update process and re-hire quality testers that it let go to show users, administrators and organizations that it is serious about improving the quality of the operating system.
I have doubts that things would get better otherwise.
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