Three years of Windows 10 – An Assessment


Microsoft has often used a 3-year cycle for their major OS releases (95, 98, XP, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10), with the exceptions being:

  • Windows ME – a stopgap release between 98 and XP
  • Vista – delayed due to the “security reset” that hardened XP and later OSes
  • Windows 8.1 – a “point release” a year after Windows 8


With Windows 10’s release in 2005, Microsoft moved to releasing feature updates roughly twice a year. Now we’re nearly 3 years after the launch of Windows 10, and the latest feature update is to be released shortly in the form of the “Spring Creators Update” (a.k.a. 1803).


Under the old 3-year scheme, we would now be receiving the next major version of Windows. So, to me, this is a good point for us to re-examine whether we have cumulatively received such an OS (call it Windows Next if you will) via the incremental feature updates, or if we have not.


Now, I’m speaking from the perspective of a consumer, not someone in the enterprise/education space, so I can only focus on consumer-oriented features.


So, here’s a list of what has changed in Windows 10 from versions 1511 to 1803 (I’ve intentionally excluded the original release of 1507 since that is Windows 10, and it is the other versions that represent changes on top of Windows 10).


1511 (November Update) brought:

  • Cortana improvements (penning reminders, etc.)
  • Edge improvements (favourite and reading list sync, tab preview, etc.)
  • Improvements and features to apps like Photos, Mail and Calendar, Maps, Groove, Skype, Xbox


1607 (Anniversary Update) brought:

  • Windows Ink platform
  • Windows Subsystem for Linux
  • Dark UI theme
  • Edge improvements (extensions, pinned tabs, etc.)


1703 (Creators Update) brought:

  • 3D features – Paint 3D
  • Mixed Reality / VR support
  • Game mode
  • Ebooks in the Store
  • Cortana improvements (additional music support, Edge browsing across devices)
  • Windows Defender Security Center
  • Additional features (Dynamic Lock, Night Light mode)
  • Improved privacy settings and telemetry changes
  • Fluent design (introduced in some parts of the OS)


1709 (Fall Creators Update) brought:

  • Mixed Reality Viewer
  • My People
  • Cortana improvements (system commands, continue on PC)
  • Edge improvements (annotations, favourite editing, fullscreen mode)
  • Ransomware protection
  • OneDrive files on demand
  • Fluent design (wider application)


1803 (Spring Creators Update) brings:

  • Timeline view
  • PWA support in Store
  • Edge improvements (new Hub, improved PDF support, PWA support)
  • Fluent design (wider application)
  • Cortana improvements (continue on PC)
  • Diagnostic Data Viewer



So, the question for discussion is – do these features listed above equate to a major upgrade over Windows 10 in its original form from July 2015? i.e. as they as big as the shift from Windows Vista to 7, or that from Windows 95 to 98?

To me, they don’t. I categorize the above features as:

  • Spit-and-polish improvements
  • True functionality improvements (Continue on PC, ransomware protection, files on-demand, Fluent design, etc.)
  • Cortana improvements
  • Edge improvements (why Edge isn’t a separately updateable app is another discussion)
  • App improvements unrelated to the OS (Mail, Photos, Groove, etc.)
  • Changes for the next big thing (VR, 3D, Game integration, etc.)

What are your thoughts?

Links I referred to:

Comments (14)

14 responses to “Three years of Windows 10 – An Assessment”

  1. Angusmatheson

    I was so excited for Windows 10. Mostly because I hated windows 8 with a burning passion, and was pissed of fat dropping support for XP before 10 came out, forced me to buy a lot of windows 7 boxes for work. I loved the insider preview - and it really got me used to using it and recommending it before it came out. However, 3 years in. I’m kinda meh about Windows 10 now. It’s fine. I hate he adds in the tiles and every time I launch chrome it tells me how great Edge is, which it isn’t. It’s fine. But it is right there and if I wanted to use it, I would have. Why annoy me to death over it. None of the improvements in the updates you listed above have improved my use at all. I hate the two different “settings” and “control panel” - to change system settings. 3 years in they are t unified. The tiles in the start menu remain an annoying distraction - and it takes active work to get rid of them. I hate they way they flash news stories in the news rule - but if I see one I like, and I click on it. It doesn’t take me to that story, but to the news app main page. And do all 600,000 windows 10 PC really need to have Candy Crush front and center. It seems the tiles are an interesting idea that never filled their promise. I’m not sure what I would want if Microsoft were to make the successor to 10. I would want less is more . It just doesn’t seems window 10 is evolving in that direction.

    • skane2600

      In reply to Angusmatheson:

      Live Tiles seem to be an idea that Microsoft can't let go of even though every product (except Windows) that has used it has failed.

      • arunphilip

        In reply to skane2600:

        I don't mind Live Tiles all that much, because I now use the Start menu as a Start page - and have pinned (and grouped) a lot of the apps that I often use. Very few of those are Metro/UWP apps, so I have tiles displaying information only for weather, calendar and mail.

        I find that with this, I don't have to delve into the actual start menu, or search for apps all that often.

    • arunphilip

      In reply to Angusmatheson:

      Your "meh" reaction is a good summation of how I feel as well. I was excited in 2015 that we were moving off Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 looked and felt good. Then the feature updates excited me in principle, until I realized that they were bringing very little of what I'd look forward to, and instead ended up bringing stuff that wouldn't be all that relevant to a majority (3D, VR, etc.).

      To me, Edge has been the biggest disappointment in terms of its glacially slow evolution. It really feels like a great rendering engine being hobbled by a lot of other things. And it doesn't help that Microsoft seems to have focused some attention on making it an eBook reader as well.

    • moruobai

      In reply to Angusmatheson:

      I love this post and this reply! A few quick thoughts...

      + The control center and settings non-unification 3 years in is laughable. Haha.

      + I could not imagine upgrading to a Windows 11 or Windows Next at this point. It would feel totally unmanageable... Thank goodness this Windows update cycle has slowed.

      + Live tiles are amazing!

      + I think Windows 10 could be much more with better integration of mobile and desktop. But... that is a long, different story.

      • hrlngrv

        In reply to moruobai:

        . . . The control center and settings non-unification 3 years in is laughable . . .

        Worse. It implies either that MSFT feels no urgency/doesn't care or it's a lot more difficult to do that MSFT is prepared to admit.

  2. rameshthanikodi

    I don't know if I would equate it to another OS, but what I can tell you is that Windows 10 in 2018 is absolutely major step up from Windows 10 in 2015. Everything is just more....polished. More refined. You can't look at just the 'big ticket' features you've listed, Microsoft makes small tweaks everywhere each time they release a new version of Windows 10. They have made multiple improvements to enable better support for High DPI apps - primarily for Win32! They have added compressed memory. They have continued to make improvements to make Windows Updates less intrusive. GPU utilization graph in task manager. Better trackpad support for laptops. It literally goes on and on.

    It's the little things that most of us don't even think about or see, but have been continued to improve with Windows 10. Don't let the Windows 7 die-hards tell you that "windows 7 is the best OS ever!!!!!!", even if you're just a desktop user that doesn't care about the UWP stuff, Windows 10 in 2018 is a much better desktop experience than what came before.

    • arunphilip

      In reply to FalseAgent:

      You've made some very good points, and yes, I've ignored the core OS improvements to a large extent in my original post.

      Don't let the Windows 7 die-hards tell you that "windows 7 is the best OS ever!!!!!!"

      Don't worry, I won't fall for this :-). The security and performance improvements that 10 has in itself make it a better choice.

      I'd also say that the core apps bundled with the OS (Mail, Photos, Groove, Calendar) are also finally good enough for regular and casual home use - and I can say that it (finally) is an acceptable replacement for the Windows Essentials suite. However, that was not the case in 2015 where these apps were half-baked and felt more like demos/sample apps for Metro.

      Everything is just more....polished. More refined. [snip] Microsoft makes small tweaks everywhere each time they release a new version of Windows 10.

      I agree with this as well, but it begs the question whether some of these things should have actually been present in the original release to begin with (e.g. a few of the big ticket items, less intrusive Windows Updates, and so on), or are equivalent to features that have come with the "service" packs released this millennium (XP SP2, Vista, etc.).

  3. Jules Wombat

    Seems like a pretty impressive list to me, along with lots of under the hood details. You missed the Linux subsystem, so we are now getting two OSs. Awesome. Certainly bigger than a Service Patch Release.

    I am not so sure there have been many (successfull) revolutionary major changes in Windows OS. Was Windows 98 that much different to Windows 95 ? or Me from Windows 98 ? Vista was very late and frustrating upon arrival and so Windows 7 a much welcome retraction/ simplification. Windows 8 went too far, and Windows 10 a retraction again, so I don't think we are due for a major overhaul unless something has gone really bad again. So just like MacOS and Linux, there is little need for a revolutionary upgrade on a successful platform, just evolution.

    But as I have commented elsewhere, the focus should not be on Windows client platform anymore, its a commodity item like all the other OS platforms. The exciting future is in Cloud services and the application of AI Technologies. Much as it may disappoint Windows Fanboys.

  4. Patrick3D

    Microsoft has been doing a solid job of polishing the experience with the feature updates while bug-fixing the core in the monthly patch Tuesday releases. The slow rollout of app updates for the default apps is indeed an issue though (Edge, Groove, Mail, etc...)

  5. Jeffery Commaroto

    Looking at that list almost all of it has been completely lost on me. I don’t use Cortana or Edge or 3D Paint or any of the built in apps like Mail etc. The fluent design stuff probably makes for a nicer experience but I don’t notice it much.

    There are two things I don’t personally use but I respect that they did:

    • Windows Ink platform (Seems nice but I don’t have a need/want to write or draw)
    • Windows Subsystem for Linux (Want this to work but too many limitations thus far. I don’t like that files created in Windows need to stay there. That is my main complaint as a developer so I don’t use it.)

    More security is always nice and I like the option of night mode though I don’t use it. So I would say:

    • Windows Defender Security Center 
    • Additional features (Dynamic Lock, Night Light mode) 
    • Ransomware protection 

    During this time the main (not Windows specific) thing they did that I love was create Visual Studio Code. I use it in Linux though and am finding myself moving away from Windows and onto iOS, Linux and Chrome. 80% of my time is spent in a Web browser. The rest in iOS apps or Visual Studio Code which is also a great terminal and FTP client.

  6. simmonm

    This is an entertaining question, as this is what has been argued about Apple for a number of years now with their OS updates. Maybe I am being naive, but I feel unless there is a major technology shift there is only so much innovation you can implement around an operating system. Major release or doesn't really matter to me.

    We are at a point where the how, where and why we use technology is shifting more quickly in the last 5 years then it has in the previous 15. We are limited to our presents perspectives and what we know. I'd rather see them on the path they are now with these minor updates then what we had in the past with a new OS every 5 years.

    • arunphilip

      In reply to simmonm:

      Very nice point, that is definitely an interesting take on it. It also justifies the move to a rapid release model with incremental updates, rather than a big bang OS release that ends up being underwhelming.

  7. Tony Barrett

    Windows 10 is still trying to be and do too much. It's a desktop OS that was, at it's core is a launcher for other apps, but MS are really overloading this OS with pointless 'features' that very few will actually use. The primary goal of Windows 10 now though for MS is as a data collection engine, and as a conduit to MS cloud services - everything else falls way behind these things, but to attract users, they need to keep adding 'value' to the platform. If people can't see this, they're really not looking very hard.