Windows as a Disservice (Premium)

Microsoft last night admitted that it cannot update certain Intel Atom-based PCs to the Windows 10 Creators Update. In doing so, it proves that Windows as a Service (Waas) is unsustainable.

I wrote about the underlying issue of this particular event earlier this week in Users with Older Atom Processors Should Wait on the Windows 10 Creators Update. But it looks like that wait will now be interminable, and not indeterminate, for most. That is, most PCs using those older Atom chips will likely never be updated to the Windows 10 Creators Update.

Microsoft is throwing those users a bone, however: PCs running one of the four underpowered chips cited in that previous article, the newest of which is over 4 years old, will receive security updates for the Windows 10 Anniversary Update (version 1607) through January 2023, which is when support for Windows 8.1 expires. Because these computers (pretty much) all shipped with Windows 8.1 in the first place.

See the problem?

Microsoft's support matrix for Windows 10 was already, I think, unsustainable. But now they've added the first of what will clearly be a never-ending series of one-off exceptions that will require them to develop security fixes for older, otherwise unsupported versions of Windows 10 on an arbitrarily-extended timeline. And to do so only for very specific PC configurations.

Let me put this simply: Windows as a Service is not just unsustainable, it's impossible.

The plan, supposedly, was that Microsoft would support just two versions of Windows 10 at any given time. With the new schedule, in which Microsoft releases two major Windows 10 version upgrades---"feature updates"---each year, that means that no individuals should ever be running a version of Windows 10 that is more than one year old. You know, in theory.

But in this context, "support" doesn't just mean "you get new feature updates." Here, the word is used more broadly: Users running a non-supported version of Windows 10 will no longer receive the "quality updates" that Microsoft hammers us with every single month, not to mention the other cumulative updates that seem to come flying through Windows Update at least once a month as well. If you're using a Windows 10 version that is over a year old, your PC is literally unsupported.

Except, of course, that Microsoft has a really hard time breaking with the past. And it has shown again and again that it will bend the rules to be inclusive to anyone who complains loud enough. As it is doing here. And will do again. And again, and again.

But individuals are small fry in this equation: The biggest exceptions to the Windows as a Service plan arrive via Microsoft's business customers. This group, notoriously uninterested in keeping their PCs up-to-date, is given a series of exceptions that basically get bigger and bigger the more they pay. Microsoft's volume licensing customers can probably still run Windows for Workgroups if they want. (I'm exaggerating her...

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