Fingers Crossed as Creators Update Crosses the Finish Line

Posted on March 15, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 41 Comments

Fingers Crossed as Creators Update Crosses the Finish Line

As I noted yesterday, Windows 10 Insider Preview build 15055 is what Microsoft would have called a Release Candidate in years past. Given recent history, let’s hope they get this one right.

I’ve written about the issues with Windows 10 updating in general, and about the issues with last summer’s Anniversary Update in particular. To its credit, Microsoft is serious about making sure this never happens again. But the issue is simple: In this Windows as a Service (WaaS) world, where Windows 10 is updated monthly at the very least, and often more so, update reliability is key. And the situation is worse with gigantic upgrades like the Creators Update, which Microsoft says it will ship 1-2 times per year.

Well, the biggest Windows 10 upgrade yet is arriving next month: Since last fall, we’ve known that Windows 10 would be upgraded to version 1703 in early 2017, courtesy of what Microsoft calls the Creators Update. This update will be finalized this month—right on schedule—and will start heading out to customers over Windows Update in very early April. Again, right in keeping with the original schedule.

Maintaining a schedule is great, but I have concerns. I believe them to be well-founded.

For starters, Microsoft seems to have been pumping new features into Creators Update very late in the process. Many of those features will come via new app updates that have recently been taken out of the Fast ring builds, indicating that customers will have a massive set of app updates to install right after they complete the upgrade to the Creators Update.

But some of these features are right in the core operating system, and they still feel half-baked.Consider the mysterious case of Dynamic Lock, a late addition to the Creators Update which does what it does vaguely, badly, and with no configurable user experience at all. Despite much-needed configuration options—like the ability to tie the functionality to a specific device, or control how quickly it engages—Dynamic Lock is just something you turn on or off, with no real understanding of how it works. It’s crazy that Microsoft would ship such a thing in Windows.

Half-baked features are one thing. The bigger issue, of course, is update/upgrade reliability. When the Anniversary Update shipped last August, Microsoft expected to fully roll out the upgrade within a few months, and it started logically enough with known-good PCs and had plans to expand the audience receiving the update over time. That never happened because upgraders quickly succumbed to a series of problems that even Microsoft acknowledges should have been caught during testing. By the end of 2016, some PCs still were not receiving this upgrade.

Testing of Windows 10 upgrades, incidentally, occurs via the Windows Insider program, which is the largest-ever public beta test in history. That such a large audience—about 7 million people—and Microsoft’s vaunted telemetry-gathering infrastructure were not able to find such obvious issues as this upgrade breaking the most popular webcam on earth, should alarm everyone.

Making this situation even worse, of course, is that Windows 10 updates and upgrades are compulsory. Sure, you can defer updates for a little while, but those updates/upgrades are coming eventually. You can’t stop them.

Looking beyond the Creators Update, Microsoft promises to be more transparent about what it’s doing, and it is changing Windows 10 to allow users to delay updates and upgrades for longer periods of time, and to prevent unwanted PC reboots. But that won’t help anyone looking to install (or not install) the Creators Update: You won’t get these benefits until you do upgrade.

Good luck with that.

As always, I remain hopeful but realistic. I feel that Microsoft will prevent the types of issues that dogged the Anniversary Update, but that other new types of issues could present similar problems for customers. That Windows 10 is perhaps too complex for this WaaS scheme that Microsoft wants so badly.

So we’ll see what happens.

But for those of you not willing to play Russian Roulette with a working PC, I’ll be writing up a tip soon about delaying the Creators Update on your PCs. Given what happened with the Anniversary Update last year, it probably makes sense to take a wait-and-see approach this time around.


Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (41)

41 responses to “Fingers Crossed as Creators Update Crosses the Finish Line”

  1. davidblouin

    Maybe it's time to end the big updates and push smaller one as they are ready

    • SherlockHolmes

      In reply to davidblouin:

      Wasnt that actually the plan? To get the size down to 1 gig? Another promise MSFT didnt deliver!

    • jimchamplin

      In reply to davidblouin:

      This would be a fantastic idea. Make it a rolling release instead of monolithic. That would also allow individual changes to be tested until they're ready, instead of the fail soup that is a major OS upgrade.

      Ultimately, Microsoft needs to stop thinking of Windows as one huge blob and start considering the components separately. Especially if they intend to replace Explorer.exe with C-Shell.

    • will

      In reply to davidblouin:

      I would advocate 1 bigger update per year, then smaller fixes and improvements over the rest of the year. OSX does this and it works. Now, one might argue that Apple just drags stuff out and their "bigger" updates are not that big. I tend to agree, but the model is good just not the delivery Apple does. Maybe that is due to developer time, not sure, but 2 big updates per year is too fast IMO.

  2. Waethorn

    So it will be 1704 after all.

    Another thing that arrives in the same timeframe: Ubuntu "Zesty Zapus".

  3. Waethorn

    More ads. Dead center of the screen: "Your Windows 10 isn't complete without an Office 365 subscription"....

    • PeteB

      In reply to Waethorn:

      And the windows 10 shell team is so inept that you can still get the popup nag for O365 after its already installed.

      • Waethorn

        In reply to PeteB:

        Most of that is from the "Get Office" app. You can eliminate notifications in the Action Center by removing that app. It's just stupid that Microsoft doesn't remove that app when you install Office.

  4. cjhawkins3rd

    Technology moves forward. The alternative is to be the Mac OS and remain safe, with minimal updates. Eventually, iOS will overtake it and Software as a Service will work without hiccups (really?). Staying current with technology is really messy. Good that Paul will keep Microsoft in line, and point out the issues. I am glad that Microsoft is risking discomfort to move their platform ahead. Think how hard it would be to just start from scratch again....

  5. rameshthanikodi

    I feel like everything is half-baked these days. The new games, the new Intel processors, the new macbooks, the new macOS, the new apps, browsers and rouge webpages, the new messaging apps from google, the answers from google assistant, youtube comments, ...

    everything. We are all responsible for subscribing to this mess so now every single company is just riding this wave.

  6. Brian Devins

    I'm running the recent slow ring build (15048) and it seems nice and solid so far. Several UI improvements, some updated apps, and it's been completely stable since installing it last week.

  7. PeteB

    "Finish settingS up your Microsoft account"

    Brilliant. Anyone left at MS that knows proper English? Or is it all third worlders now, hired by Nadella? This would've never happened under Ballmer.

  8. mikiem


    Have had some driver problems with recent Insider builds in VBox VMs. They seem to be fixed with the newest VBox version, but the fact that they occurred at all tells me some aspects of the Creators Update may cause problems with some of our devices. The initial problem [with the VM(s)] was that 10 would crash immediately after log-in, restart, crash, repeat, making it more difficult to tell the source of the problem was the display driver.

    So I set up a USB 3.0 SSD with Windows To Go, using an Insider ISO. Once what folks feel is the RTM is released, I'll get that on there & try it on each device. That'll tell me what to expect, & give me time to figure out fixes if necessary [& if possible].

    • dcuk7

      In reply to mikiem:

      I had the same issues with VMWare Workstation. Hadn't bothered updating to v12 as v11 works great for me, or it did until one of the Insider builds just black screens and craps out. Had to upgrade the application and the VM hardware to v12 for the display driver to work. Worrying.

  9. bws2a

    I think there's a regression bug in the mix. When I plug in my Kindle Voyage, I get a blue screen. I went to the feedback hub and reported it. Others have been reporting it since we passed something like 15000. I hope they don't ignore this and release the Creator's Update with this bug.

  10. will

    Why does Microsoft not tell us when the update will be done?! This late in the process they SHOULD know what they can get done and what they can not.

  11. StephenCWLL

    Windows 10 has been half-baked since it's inception. Everything rolled out half-basked and gradually improved on as time goed on. We shouldn't be suprised.

    • PeteB

      In reply to StephenCWLL:

      "but but Agile development, it's the trendy new buzzword and gives us an excuse to fire the QA team, ship everything incomplete and not test anything because we can patch it later!"

      • skane2600

        In reply to PeteB:

        The irony is that companies are rushing to update their software with features that most of their customers don't care about, will ignore or may even hate. IMO if MS didn't update Windows (except for security issues) for a year, it would have no effect on Windows market share.

  12. Demileto

    "As I noted yesterday, Windows 10 Insider Preview build 15055 is what Microsoft would have called a Release Candidate in years past."

    Don't you mean build 15058? :)

  13. madthinus

    Paul, in due respect, you have no idea the hell that Windows 10 has been for us as a business. These 6 monthly updates happen with no warning and no control for us. We have 15 computers out of the 30 running Windows 10. We have a single ADSL connection at 4 mbps. Once the upgrade cycle start, using the internet to get our jobs done is a frustrating process. A build download for you at home might be 15 minutes. For us it is 6 hours. Although I have turned on the setting to download from local machines, three computers could not complete the upgrade last time due to some error. In the end, I turned off that feature and let them update over the internet. More time and hell to manage and troubleshoot.

    • cheetahdriver

      In reply to madthinus:

      I feel your pain. After years of having the same problem I finally went to a local cell tower that had fiber and have a Relay mounted at the 105 ft level to get to the 60ft tower we had built at the office. Now we have 50Mps (and could have a 100 if we wanted to pay for it). The cost was 8k for equipment and tower rental and a K a month in fees. However, I would highly recommend it, we have about a 1/3 of the people you do, and we have found productivity improvements have overwhelmed the cost.

      There is always a way. It may not be easy, but there is always a way.

      I totally agree with you on updates over a skinny pipe though, I was in that hell for years.

  14. Ron Diaz

    Microsoft trying to save Windows 10: 'It became necessary to destroy the town to save it'...

  15. Delmont

    Paul, is the glass ever half full for you in life? I like your articles, but they're always of the glass being 1/2 empty. Cheer up.

  16. Tom Wilson

    "update reliability is key"

    That's a joke, right? I sit here, again, stuck at 95% with the latest cumulative update from microsoft.

    How about they fix that first?

  17. Lewk

    In regards to the App Updates, all my production machines already have those App Updates, so when they upgrade to the Creators Update when it ships, they wouldn't need the app updates :/ Also, a clean install now with any version of Windows 10 requires app updates, how is that any different?