Windows Insiders wondering what’s going on with Windows 10 Mobile have just received a coded message from Microsoft: No, there will be no new builds of Windows 10 this month. But Insiders on the Fast Ring can now obtain a new cumulative update to the RTM release. And if you’re using a Lumia 950, 950 XL, or 550, next week you’ll be able to get these pre-release updates on your phone too.
Confused? I can help: Microsoft pretty much takes December off every year. It’s the real reason why the Surface team won’t fix an endemic problem with its Surface Book and Surface Pro 4 devices until 2016. And it’s why we won’t see an actual new build of Windows 10 until next year either. (Remember when they did the same thing a year ago?)
This can be inconvenient (Windows Insider builds are pre-release code and cater to a limited audience anyway) or infuriating (it’s unclear how Microsoft could ever ship Surface Book in particular in this condition). Or they can be both. (These phone updates will only be delivered through the Insider program so normal people won’t even know they are available.)
But it is what it is.
What I don’t like is the deceptive nature of this stuff. The headline Announcing Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 10586.29 suggests that Microsoft has, in fact, released a full new build past RTM. They have not.
When you increment the RTM version of Windows 10 Mobile from build 10586.11 (or whatever) to 10586.anything, you’re not issue a “new build,” you’re just improving the build you already shipped. And that .29 bit says a lot too: Despite “completing” Windows 10 1511, Microsoft has had to fix it a lot, on both PCs/tabletsand phones. I’ve been told by multiple sources that the phone builds, in particular, including those that went out the door with the 950 and 950 XL, are of particularly poor quality and are essentially incomplete.
I riffed on Microsoft’s inability to get this stuff right in Oh, the Clarity of Windows 10 Versioning, and while some misunderstood my point, it remains clear enough: Microsoft is making this up as they go along.
So here’s what Microsoft has communicated. With explanation.
As our partners and Microsoft ship new Windows 10 mobile devices and existing devices are upgraded to Windows 10, all of our users will start to see more updates coming through Windows Update. These will be addressing feedback we receive from our Windows Insiders and new Windows 10 users.
This is what I noted above: The initial shipping version of Windows 10 Mobile 1511 is of such poor quality that it will be fixed again and again. But only for beta testers.
We have received a lot of useful feedback from our Insiders on our last Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview build 10586. While this is the same base build that we are shipping with new Windows 10 devices, we are continuing to address feedback on the upgrade experience from Windows Phone 8.1 as reported from Windows Insiders.
Today we are releasing our first Cumulative Update to the Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 10586 to Insiders that begins addressing this feedback. The first thing you will notice with this Cumulative Update is it will use the minor version for differentiating between each version as these builds only contain fixes to the Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview build already in the Fast and Slow rings. So this build will appear as 10586.29.
Improvements in this cumulative update include:
Also new: Starting next week, those with a Microsoft Lumia 950, Lumia 950 XL, Lumia 550, or LG Lancet will be able to receive updates from the Windows Insider program (via the Windows Insider app) and will be added to Microsoft’s sadly-too-necessary Windows Device Recovery Tool.
So it’s neat that we’re going to see updates of any kind. And how could anyone complain about that?
Here’s how: These updates only apply to Windows Insiders. So if you did buy a Lumia 950, Lumia 950 XL, or Lumia 550, you’re stuck with the buggy original release of 10586. And you won’t get updates until… when? 2016?
This whole system is broken. And if you are the owner of a new Lumia, you’d be wise to sign up for Windows Insider and get going with pre-release updates. It is literally the only way you’re every going to stay up-to-date.
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