Yes, Microsoft Did Promise Timeline for the Fall Creators Update

Posted on July 6, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 95 Comments

Yes, Microsoft Did Promise Timeline for the Fall Creators Update

In the wake of Microsoft’s revelation that it will not ship Timeline in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, some are attempting to rewrite history, claiming that Microsoft was vague about when this feature might appear. But Timeline, along with other cross-device features, was explicitly promised for the Fall Creators Update.

“In our Fall Creators Update, for the first time, Windows PCs will love all your devices,” Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore said during the Build 2017 keynote at which he announced this functionality. (You can find this quote at the 48:44 mark if you’d like to hear it for yourself.) “Fluent design, Files on Demand, Timeline, Cloud-powered Clipboard, these are all ways that we’re going to make our users lives better.”

This statement seems pretty clear to me. And it stands in sharp contrast to the backpedaling that Belfiore and some Microsoft fanboys are doing now on Twitter.

“From my [point of view,] we described [a] set of features that would come starting with [the Fall Creators Update],” he tweeted. “And I thought we’d communicated uncertainty.”

Look, Joe’s a great guy, and I’m sure that Microsoft understood that many of these features would not actually make the Fall Creators Update. And to be fair, they were explicit about one feature being rolled out over a period of: The Fluent design language will only be partially implemented in the Fall Creators Update.

Is it possible that there is some equivocating or hedging on these features elsewhere in the Build 2017 keynote? Sure. I haven’t rewatched the full presentation. But I’ll just raise two issues here, one that should be obvious to all, and one that will be obvious in retrospect.

First, that statement above is pretty definitive. If Joe or others on the Windows team were more ambiguous elsewhere, that doesn’t undercut that the fact that he summarized his talk about those new features with the above statement.

Second, a few hundred members of the press and blogosphere were pre-briefed on the Build 2017 day 2 keynote contents the day before the presentation. And looking at my extensive notes from that day, I see that it is broadly about the new world view for Windows, the new strategy that I wrote about at the time. And more specifically, it focused on features that are coming in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. Which I also wrote about at the time. No one ever said anything about these features rolling out over time. Except for Fluent; on that, again, they were explicit.

And there are other bits in the Build 2017 keynote that support my view. For example, when Terry Myerson returns to the stage after Joe (and after a Project Rome demo), he says the following.

“What we just saw with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update,” he says at the 1:06:55 mark, “it isn’t just the next update coming this fall. This is a big opportunity. It’s an opportunity for us to keep our customers close to the content, files, and activities they’ve grown to use and love.”

That language refers to Timeline. And to Pick Up Where You Left Off, Clipboard, and OneDrive Files on Demand, all features that were announced for the Fall Creators Update.

You get the idea.

I’m not just being pedantic here. Communication is important, not just the words one uses, but the way in which those words are delivered. I feel it is disingenuous to make promises on a stage to your customers and then backpedal silently, using the limited audience on Twitter to spin a different story. Being honest isn’t always easy, but it’s almost always the right thing to do.

Everyone who watched that Build 2017 keynote—and was briefed in advance, as some of us were—believed that it was Microsoft’s intent to deliver Timeline and those other features—plus some I’m not even discussing here, like Story Remix and Phone settings interface—in the Fall Creators Update. And that misunderstanding, if that’s what it is, is on Microsoft, not its customers.

So maybe someone can watch this video again and find that one place where Joe, or Terry, or someone else equivocates a bit, or introduces a bit of uncertainty. I’m not sure that matters, when the impression that everyone got was that these things were coming in the next update. And that it would have been very easy to communicate otherwise if that was not going to be the case.

It’s time for some clarity, Microsoft. What’s really going to be in the Fall Creators Update? Will any other features be dropped?


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