Microsoft is Inexplicably Slowing Down App Updates on the Fast Ring

Posted on February 28, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 40 Comments

Microsoft is Inexplicably Slowing Down App Updates on the Fast Ring

What’s the definition of insanity again?

Excited to test newly announced features in the Groove and Movies & TV apps, I’ve been checking for those updates for days to no avail.

The reason? There is no reason. No good reason.

As you may remember, Microsoft recently announced a major update to the Groove app for Windows 10, adding a playlist sharing feature that will only work if you’re using a Windows 10 Insider build. It also announced way back on February 8 that it was adding a picture-in-picture feature, called Content Overlay, to its Movies & TV app. That app update is also available now. But again, the new functionality will only work if you’re on the Insider Preview.

Except, of course, that neither app update is appearing on any of my Insider Preview-based PCs, each of which is of course in the Fast ring in order to ensure that I’m always getting the latest OS features—via new builds—and app updates. That is, after all, the very point of Fast ring.

After days of checking for these app updates, and trying manual workarounds—involving, in one case, removing Movies & TV using PowerShell and then reinstalling—I finally took to Twitter yesterday to find out what’s up.

So this is odd. I get the new Groove and Movies & TV app versions on non-Insider Win10. But not on Insider. Why? 🙂

That smiley face indicates I am OK with this weirdness. I’m sorry I used that: I am not OK with this weirdness.

But my tweet proved that everyone else is seeing the same issue. I didn’t hear from anyone on the Fast ring who had received these app updates.

So today I get up and what do I see in my RSS feed? That Neowin’s Rich Woods has an explanation for this problem. And a workaround. Great!

Except for two issues: He does not have an explanation for this problem. And the workaround does not work.

It’s not his fault, of course.

Like me, Rich also asked on Twitter about the issue with these app updates, which Zac Bowden had pointed out to me extends to all bundled apps, including Skype Preview. Microsoft’s Brandon LeBlanc told Bowden that all we need to do is switch from Fast ring to Slow ring, “pick up the newer app updates,” and then go back to Fast ring. So there’s where Neowin’s workaround came from.

That sounds simple enough. But it doesn’t work. And I’ve tried this on three different PCs. But maybe the apps will arrive later today, so I’ll keep trying.

Meanwhile, I’m still wondering about the why. Why the frick would Microsoft not provide the latest app versions on the Fast ring? Given that this is the very point of the Fast ring.

PC experts! If you like to be on the cutting edge, this is the right ring for you. The Fast ring is for the more advanced people who are comfortable dealing with software bugs.

In Woods’s words, “Fast ring app updates are currently on hold … because Microsoft wants to test the versions of the apps that are included with the build.”

Now, why on earth would Microsoft want to test older app versions when new, Creators Update-specific features are available only in the newer versions?? “[I] assume that these are the versions that will ship with the Creators Update, even if they’re updated immediately after,” Woods writes.

This assertion also relies on a LeBlanc tweet, of course. “We need testing coverage on app versions included in the build,” he wrote.

But this doesn’t make any sense at all. Which, by the way, Rafael pointed out in his own incredulous question. “Why test old software bundled with the image? That doesn’t make sense.”

The answer will stupefy you.

“Not everyone around the world has access to good Internet. So need [bundled] apps to work good.”

What. The. Frick.

I think it’s safe to assume that most people sticking their necks out with the Fast ring do in fact have “access to good Internet” or that, more to the point, these people are willing to put up with slow downloads if that’s what it takes. But none of that matters: This is the Fast ring, not the Fast OS ring with slow app updates. And what Microsoft is doing here is illogical, frustrating, and unnecessary.

Microsoft: Like all other Fast ring testers, I would like to test the latest software. I’m both amused and saddened that I need to even tell you this. But for now, I will keep my PCs on Slow ring and continue to check for app updates and ignore the out-of-date apps you’re forcing on the people who have explicitly signed up for the future.

It’s going to be one of those days. But in hopes of shining this turd, I will at least point out the following: Microsoft does confirm here implicitly that Creators Update development is winding down and will could, in fact, come to a close as soon as this week. And you have to admit that’s interesting.

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