Should Microsoft ditch feature upgrades twice a year?

Since the summer of 2015, when Microsoft released Windows 10, Microsoft has been sending out feature updates [roughly] every 6 months.

Some background first. A feature update is that huge update that is release every six months. It includes new features to Windows plus enhancements to current features as well as security updates.

But as you probably noticed, you need to download this huge update [2 GB or greater]and wait anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours until the update is finished. A small business can’t sit around while one or more computers are being updated.

[And if you have a system like mine, any time a feature update is installed, it botches up several settings that you probably painstakingly have configured only to have to redo them in 6 months because Microsoft doesn’t seem to care about our settings.]

This also causes developers to fix/correct problems that will occur with a feature update.

Large businesses have to decide which feature edition to base their Windows 10 deployment on, only to find out that after building the image and doing pilot test runs, another feature edition is around the corner. These businesses will most likely base their deployment on the latest feature edition and not worry about the next feature edition when released – or even the one after.

After speaking with some people – both novices and technical – I think most would be happy with one feature upgrade per year. Windows 10 is mature enough. Even Apple doesn’t have major updates not more than once per year.

There will be some issues that would need to be somehow updated. For example, Edge, the web browser. It is still far from being perfect and strong enough to compete the other web browsers. [It is last among the major web browsers that works with Windows 10. One in ten people use it.] It needs to be updated more than twice a year. Chrome and Firefox are constantly being updated and enhanced.

There isn’t a competing Windows operating system but there is for web browsers. When Windows 10 was originally released [and even now], Microsoft was foolish to hide Internet Explorer in the “Start” menu system. After using Edge, which was more like a beta version when released in the first few feature editions, most Windows 10 users headed straight to Google or Mozilla’s web site to download their web browsers – not knowing Internet Explorer was still there.


Microsot Edge coming to iOS and Android smartphone

You read it right.

Microsoft announced that their Edge web browser would be coming to iOS and Android – phone only – not tablets for now. On iOS, Edge is based on the WebKit engine, and on Android, the Chromium browser project. Both will probably be released by year end

More changes in Windows 10 Anniversary Edition

Microsoft has made some further changes in preparation for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update [AE] – which is expected in July.

  • Microsoft is releasing Cortana on the Android platform. Why do so and why related to AE? Cortana can mirror all your Android phone’s notifications to your PC, giving you all your notifications in Windows 10’s Action Center. So if you battery is running low on your Galaxy S7, you will be notified in Windows 10. Directions to a store in Windows 10 will also show up on your Nexus 6P.
  • “Messaging Everywhere” follows the above as it will allow you to send a SMS message from your Windows 10 PC through your phone. Similarly, a SMS message on your phone will show up on your PC.
  • The “Dark Theme” that some seem to like will be available all over Windows 10. Previously available only by a registry setting or by pressing a secret keyboard shortcut in the Store app.
  • Group policies will allow you to switch between Edge and Internet Explorer when some sites do not open correctly in Edge.
  • The Edge browser will support Chrome-style extensions, and Microsoft will provide a tool that helps developers quickly convert Chrome extensions to Edge extensions.
  • Edge will automatically detect and pause Flash content that isn’t integral to the page [such as ads] and you’ll have to click it to play the Flash item. Games and videos on web pages should work normally. Also added are pinning tabs.
  • Windows Hello will now support Windows apps and the Edge browser, so you can securely log into apps and web sites using your fingerprint as well aside from Windows itself. Hello will also be able to unlock your PC with “companion devices” such as Microsoft Band fitness band or any type of smartphone.
  • Go figure. Microsoft initially ditched Skype for Windows [App store version] just before Windows 10 was released. Now, Microsoft will create a new universal Windows app version of Skype that will eventually replace the traditional desktop application when it has enough features.
  • AE will include the Ubuntu command line with all the standard Linux tools. Of course you can’t do some commands such as fsck.
  • The Start menu has changed [again]. The “All Apps” option is now gone as you will just see a full list of installed applications shown on the left side of your Start menu. Your most frequently used and recently added applications will also appear at the top of this list. The three most recently added applications will be shown and you can add to this list to see more applications sorted by install date.
  • In the lock screen, your Email will not appear if you signed in with a Microsoft account but can be enabled, if you wish. Cortana can be used even on a locked screen, if enabled.
  • For Windows Updates, you can specify a schedule where Windows Updates will avoid restarting your computer during that schedule.
  • The Action Center button is now located at the far right corner of the taskbar and is no longer mixed in with the other system tray icons and are now grouped by app in the Action Center. You can also customize the Quick Actions.
  • The File Explorer window now has a new icon and it’s primarily white–with a bit of yellow.

Microsoft still hasn’t given an exact date when AE will be released, but in most cases Microsoft releases major releases on a Tuesday and the day after the 4th of July holiday in the US is a Tuesday.

Anniversary edition of Windows 10 coming soon

Microsoft released this weeks a preview of its Windows 10 “Anniversary Update” [“build 14316”] to fast ring testers. The anniversary update is expected to be out in late spring, just before the first anniversary of the RTM of Windows 10 [v1507] and before the free upgrade offer ends.

Unlike the v1511 release which was more of a fix and behind the scenes release, this preview has a stack of new features.

This update is supports the Linux Bash shell in Windows as a way to help developers who rely on open source development tools. Testers have to activate it by turning on a “Developer Mode” in the operating system, according to Microsoft.

Cortana can track misplaced phones by sending a ring tone. The Cortana service also can now send map directions to another device for travelers dependent on smart phones, for instance.

The Cortana service will now tell users when the battery power is low. There’s a new “Managed by Windows” setting for applications which will stop application battery drain when a Battery Saver feature is enabled.

Two Microsoft Edge browser extensions are added [extension option was enabled in the previous builds]. There’s a new Pin It Button extension as well as a OneNote Clipper extension.

There is now support for the Skype Universal Windows Platform app preview on PCs.

The Action Center can now be configured to show the notices you want and frequency. You can also specify the hours when they are active on their machines. So updates won’t automatically install during that activated time period.

Features to be added and remove from the Edge browser

This week, Microsoft detailed some of the finalized features that its Edge (formerly named “Spartan”) browser will be receiving. Among them on the list includes:

  • Extension support (including extensions for Skype, Reddit, Pinterest)
  • More Cortana scenarios
  • Object RTC
  • Pointer Lock

Among those Internet Explorer features where the days are numbered including ActiveX plugins and VBScript. The removal will result in the elimination of more than 220,000 lines of code in MSHTML.