Microsoft updates Windows more than its online services

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Microsoft is a strange company. It blows my mind how much work they put into Windows for their two major feature releases a year. Also bug fixes every month (if not every week). Even though most Windows users don’t seem to be asking for updates and would prefer a slower update schedule Microsoft insists on marching onward with their two updates a year.

Yet on the other end of the product development continuum is the lightweight, always fresh cloud services. Products like Microsoft ToDo, Planner, Skype, OneNote, Outlook.com, OneDrive, etc. all seem to get a major update every five years or so. It is crazy to me how slowly Microsoft updates their new products. For example Planner has been pretty basic for a long time; Microsoft ToDo is still not as capable as Wunderlist; OneDrive online UI still uses the old app switcher and hasn’t added user requested features for years (i.e. more storage).

Am I missing something or does Microsoft update their old legacy products so much it is a problem while at the same time ignores user requests for updates/features on their new products? I feel like I am taking crazy pills!

Comments (16)

16 responses to “Microsoft updates Windows more than its online services”

  1. Avatar

    minke

    I suspect the online products get a lot more updates than we realize but they happen in the background so we just don't notice. What surprises me is that they do make feature updates occasionally, and nothing is said about them that I notice. Just the other day I noticed that now you can (finally!) select a variety of fonts when using Word online, while in the recent past you were presented with nothing but Calibri. I only discovered this by accident, and it is a major reason I had almost completely stopped using Word online. I also noticed that there are different settings than I remember for Outlook.com while trying to troubleshoot an IMAP problem. So, things do change, but because these are online we don't have to go through a painful process to see improvements.

    • Avatar

      TheJoeFin

      In reply to Minke:

      I'm sure Microsoft is continually updating their web products with stability and bug fixes, but it is surprising they don't make more of an effort to bunch together features and call it a release to draw attention to these products. After all the future is this evergreen online web-technology based cross platform application, I would think Microsoft would want the attention on those types of products and services and not Windows.

  2. Avatar

    wright_is

    You are missing that the changes in the online platforms are constant and happen in the background, so you don't notice that they are being constantly repaired and security holes fixed. It is only when they have a major makeover that there is a bruhaha.

    • Avatar

      TheJoeFin

      In reply to wright_is:

      I am aware Microsoft is making many minor tweaks and improvements to these services, but that is equivalent to Microsoft pushing virus definition updates every day to Windows.


      Why does Microsoft make such a big deal about Windows feature updates but does not have anywhere near the same level of focus, attention, and feedback to their cloud services feature updates?

    • Avatar

      Jackwagon

      In reply to wright_is:

      That does lead to an interesting quandary:


      1) When you do everything just right, no one realizes you've done anything at all.


      2) When it looks like you haven't done anything, people either get nervous or indignant as a result.

  3. Avatar

    Usman

    Office apps are updated every month, businesses take them every 6 months part of semi-annual channel. ToDo, Planner, Skype, OneNote, Outlook.com, OneDrive, all are receiving updates every month, think of it like an insider program (well Skype and Office updates are delivered through insider programs).


    Office Web apps have been massively updated, moving away from the Metro style to Office Fabric and now to the new Fluent UI Fabric, these are mainly noticeable in Office 365 business if you're on release preview.The new switcher UI is available in O365 business but not consumer, in fact onedrive is 2 gen behind an outlook.com is one gen behind. It also works the other way, outlook.com beta was available on consumer way before it was an option on o365 business.


    UI and features in online services are on different time frames, they're toggled by environment. It's not that they're not updating them completely, it's that's they're updating different areas where it is high priority to team, for example, onedrive updates occur in sharepoint and onedrive business first then make their way to consumer.


    I agree Windows shouldn't really be revved in this way, should be once a year at most. It's because these services are updated regularly with 6 month feature releases and for it to be a part of Microsoft 365 they went down that path. If anything these services are what lead to Windows being revved 2 times a year.

  4. Avatar

    waethorn

    Silicon Valley incubation projects.


    That's all that has to be said.


    See: Google killing Allo, Hangouts, etc., in favour of Android Messages.

  5. Avatar

    yoshi

    I'm still waiting for the To-Do integration in Outlook.com. I'm talking the pane integration. Right now if I go to Tasks, it opens To-Do, but in a new tab and each and every time, it welcomes me to the new Tasks - even though I go there multiple times a day.


    I'm also wondering if the new OneDrive web design will ever roll out. It's been months since they announced it.


    Anyway, I'm with you. I feel like these things take forever to appear on their online services.

    • Avatar

      Usman

      In reply to yoshi:

      OneDrive will be when they've signed it off, it's still in preview/beta of O365 Business customers. OneDrive usually ships previews on O365 Business first then makes its way to consumer, mainly because OneDrive Business is part of 'sharepoint' and consumer OneDrive is built out from there.


      Outlook on the other hand, ships preview features to outlook.com first then makes it available to O365 Business customers.


      Depends on the how teams handle it, usually there are updates / releases approximately every 6 months to consumer versions. They speak about this in their Ignite sessions, on whats new for consumer & business versions since the teams work on one implementation that is re-used for both.

  6. Avatar

    Tony Barrett

    You should know that Win10 is Microsoft's answer to getting people into their services - so they have to try and make it attractive to end users - hence the feature overload. Once your in, and signed up to their subscriptions, you're pretty much hooked, so the services themselves don't need as much regular attention. They've got your money at that point!

    • Avatar

      TheJoeFin

      In reply to ghostrider:

      These services are mostly web-first and frequently web-only. Windows 10 does not get people hooked on their services. Also Microsoft is clearly aware that Windows is the business of the past not of the future. Microsoft's online web-only services are competing with many free or freemium services, many of which are extremely high quality and feature rich.


      To continue to win customers and business Microsoft needs to compete against free 'good enough' ad supported services. The struggle to convert non-paying customers into paying customers on the merits of the online services alone should be a huge focus for Microsoft, but it seems like their online services take a backseat to products like Windows and desktop Office.

  7. Avatar

    NoFlames

    A change in the services have to be tested to work on all platforms not just windows

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