The jist of the current situation is that Windows 10 Home users, as non-voluntary first-line participants in the Windows update rollout program, essentially act as beta testers for new Windows releases. Updates are always rolled out to these users before Windows 10 Pro/Enterprise users and indeed updates are not rolled out to these latter users until sufficient feedback from the Windows 10 Home users is in.
As I reflect on how we got to this situation, in hindsight it doesn’t seem all that surprising, as the signposts pointing Microsoft at this approach were everywhere in the computing ecosystem:
- Microsoft has always been accused by the peanut gallery of essentially beta testing its products on users, chiefly because of a perceived lack of quality of its software products’ early versions, despite having had independent testing in-house.
- Microsoft has long provided bundled Windows, mainly Windows Home, to computer manufacturers for pennies on the dollar compared to its retail and other direct pricing, in exchange for something of value: the computer manufacturers took on technical support responsibility for those end users for a period of time.
- Its difficulty delivering working online store infrastructure for Windows Anytime Upgrade and TechNet, as well as brokenness of Windows Help as it shrinks the infrastructure for that and redirects it toward user forums where assistance can be provided by really terrible quality “community experts”, suggest that it is always willing to do cost cutting and suffer through the quality impact.
- The effective alternatives to Microsoft in the OS world are basically Linux, where it’s not unusual for a distro to break something in a release upgrade, and Mac OS X, where they just plain remove drivers for older hardware from newer releases of the OS, preventing users from upgrading (and perhaps forcing them to upgrade their hardware).