Three years of Windows 10 – An Assessment

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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:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windows_10#Feature_updates

https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2015/11/13/whats-new-for-you-in-windows-10/

https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2016/08/04/edge-anniversary-update/

https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2017/04/11/whats-new-in-the-windows-10-creators-update/

https://blogs.windows.com/windowsexperience/2017/10/17/whats-new-windows-10-fall-creators-update/

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