On Wednesday in China Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will be coming “this summer” to 190 countries. That is an unexpected move by the company, and one that makes for a very interesting first half of 2015 out of Microsoft.
Now, While “summer” seems fairly aggressive, remember that summer technically lasts until September 21st, and Microsoft has said in the past that Windows 10 will release “later in 2015.” So Windows 10 could release on September 20th and still fulfil most of those promises. There is also the usual ambiguity of Microsoft. Often to them “released” means released to manufacturing, or RTM, in which it distributes Windows 10 to PC makers, and we don’t actually see it in market for another 3-4 months. While the promise of free upgrades for Windows 7 and 8.x users makes that less likely to happen this time, it is still a cushion Microsoft can use should they want. So while it was surprising to see the company give a more firm date, the window is still large enough that there is flexibility to the schedule.
However, for those who have been using the Windows Technical Preview, myself included, this is worrying. Microsoft has promised frequent updates for the preview members, and that simply has not happeend. Since the original release of the preview we have had one update in November, and one update in January, and that is it. The lack of progress and a more defined release schedule is a worrying combination. Now I’m sure there are internal builds of Windows 10 at Microsoft that are further along than what we have in the technical preview, but the fact is that microsoft has not delivered on promises to its most valued customers, the ones willing to try out pre-release software, and the lack of progress on Windows 10 is troubling.
There is also the fact that on Windows 10 for mobile devices, think small tablets and phones, development is even further behind. We’ve had exactly one preview, which is only compatable with a few devices, and although there is very little visual change it is so unstable to be virtually unusable. If they plan to ship the Windows 10 for mobile product at the same time as the desktop version, they have a lot of work to do. A lot.
I think I’m more excited for Windows 10 than I have been for any other Windows release since I started doing what I do. But I’m worried. Almost as worried as I was when Windows 8 came out. Windows 10 has a chance to be something great in a way that we haven’t seen since maybe Windows XP, but if Microsoft fumbles the execution like it did with Vista and Windows 8, all of the good work will be for nothing.