Microsoft Scrambles to Deliver on Its Story Remix Promises

Posted on September 12, 2017 by Paul Thurrott in Music + Videos, Windows 10 with 31 Comments

Microsoft Scrambles to Deliver on Its Story Remix Promises

It’s fair to say that the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update will fall short of what Microsoft promised at Build 2017. But the software giant is now scrambling to add Story Remix, one of the best Build keynote demos, to Windows 10 in time for the update’s October 17 launch.

One can only imagine that Microsoft feels stung by criticism that it is overpromising and under-delivering with the Fall Creators Update. As I noted back in July, the Windows 10 portion of Microsoft’s Build 2017 keynote was riddled with both untruths and promised Fall Creators Update features that will not, in fact, arrive with this release.

Story Remix was the most impressive Windows 10 demo at Build 2017, and it’s been the subject of much controversy ever since Microsoft unveiled it. The firm (repeatedly) told me and others in the press and blogosphere that Story Remix would be a new Windows 10 app, and in its demo on-stage at the show the next day, the firm showed off amazing—one might say unbelievable—mixed reality capabilities that combined video with animated 3D and augmented reality (AR) objects. The quality level was almost to the level of a Hollywood movie, which further undercut the believability.

Since Build, Microsoft has moved—sometimes scarily quickly, sometimes oddly slowly—to ship new Fall Creators Update features to Windows Insiders for testing. But Story Remix has always been confusing, in part because Microsoft is apparently delivering this functionality as part of the Photos app and not in a brand new and standalone app.

One day after the now-infamous Build 2017 keynote, Microsoft released a new version of the Photos app in Windows 10 to Windows Insiders that included a new Story Remix feature. But all it did was mix photos into slideshows. There were no Mixed Reality features at all, and this functionality duplicated the features from previous solutions like Sway and, worse, Photo Story, an application that dates back about 15 years.

Microsoft attempted to quell complaints by telling fans that it never actually promised Story Remix or other new Windows 10 features from Build in the Fall Creators Update. But as I demonstrated, that is not true: Microsoft executives, standing on stage at Build, repeatedly said that Story Remix and all of the other new features they demonstrated were coming in this release.

Since then, the firm has come clean on at least one of these features—Timeline will be delayed until Windows 10 version 1803, for example—but Story Remix was in a weird limbo. Was it a new app or just new functionality for Photos?

And then the Story Remix features disappeared from Photos. And reappeared. And then disappeared again. Like, seriously.

Then, in a shocking and unexpected move, Microsoft revealed in August that it was actually going to rename the Photos app to Story Remix. This is when I really lost it, and I spent the better part of a day mocking Microsoft on Twitter and getting entangled in arguments with people on the Insider team. The company had jumped the shark. (Later, it stepped back from the cliff and said that it was only testing the new name, and then it finally agreed to stick with the name Photos.)

Finally, Microsoft admitted that Story Remix would arrive in Windows 10 version 1803 when the app’s creator, Chris Pratley, said that it would be made available soon to those few Insiders in the Skip Ahead ring.

So here we are. Mid-September. One month before Microsoft will deliver the Fall Creators Update.

And yep, you guessed it. The schedule has changed yet again.

Story Remix, which will indeed be delivered as new functionality in the Photos app, will arrive separately from, but coincidental to, the Fall Creators Update. It’s being tested now by that small group of Skip Ahead users, and according to Neowin, which found out about this from an Italian blog, Story Remix lets you add 3D objects into photos and adds almost 60 special effects like “Impact – Sand,” “Explosion,” “Rain,” and many others.

The release notes are:

  • Draw on your photos and videos and share an animation of your drawing with friends and family!
  • Enhance your photos with a new, easy-to-use Editor, including improved cropping, new filters and adjustable options like light and clarity.
  • Browse your collection and interact with single images more easily with your mouse and keyboard.
  • Enter full-screen mode from the photo viewer with one click (or use the F11 key).
  • Scroll to zoom! Use your mouse wheel to zoom in and out of your pictures.
  • Share or remove entire albums directly from the Albums page.
  • Change album titles by tapping or clicking the text to edit.
  • Easily select and remove photos from your album, via the photo itself or the thumbnail view.
  • Bug fixes.

What’s not clear (to me, at least) is why Neowin believes this app version will arrive in the Store on the same day as the Fall Creators Update. Likewise unclear is whether this update fulfills the functional promises about Story Remix that Microsoft made at Build.

But whatever the schedule, and whatever the delivery method, Microsoft has clearly gotten the message on overpromising and under-delivering. We’ll need to remain vigilant, of course, but it’s a nice turnaround from a company that, frankly, has been worrying me a lot lately.

That said, if Microsoft is serious about delivering Story Remix in October, maybe it should open up the app to more testers first. See? I can always find something to complain about.

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Comments (39)

39 responses to “Microsoft Scrambles to Deliver on Its Story Remix Promises”

  1. Avatar

    dontbe evil

    as far I remember MS didn't promise that his will be available in fall creators update

  2. Avatar

    DaveHelps

    Any word on Groove Music Maker? IIRC that was never confirmed, but appeared in a screenshot for the Creator's Update.


    I used to own a Mac specifically for Garage Band. This would be a killer app for me.

  3. Avatar

    Spineless

    I would have preferred Story Remix over My People... I hate My People. I played with it... Realized it was pointless, then turned it off. How it got greenlit with such a horrible user experience is mind-boggling. The only way to interact with one of your people is to have them pinned, but you can only pin 3 people. Wth...

    • Avatar

      allanwith

      In reply to Spineless:

      Windows Central is saying that "My People" is there right now for developers to be able to integrate their apps and that more improvements are coming in RS4. But I agree, it is not very usable right now. For instance, it doesn't work with Outlook or Skype for Business...


      To me it does have some potential, if they can tweak it the right ways.

  4. Avatar

    mrdrwest

    I still say it should be named Phelix; short for Photo Elixir. Their consumer product names sound like their enterprise product names, so sterile and matter of fact; like, "Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager 2012 R2 Cumulative Update 4" ...SMH..aka ConfigMgr


    Story Remix...meh...

  5. Avatar

    SvenJ

    I'm on the Skip Ahead ring, got the update to Photos with the Create tab and Story Remix as an option. I can tell you it doesn't have all that stuff. Put pictures/videos together in a slide show, add some panning, text and music and that's it right now. Aren't even selectable transitions at this point. They better hurry if they want any of this tested by any one other than everyone at once.

  6. Avatar

    crfonseca

    I very much doubt they're releasing in next month, since they're only making it available to those in the Skip Ahead tier. If they were going to make it available next month, they would have pushed it to all Insiders so that everyone could test it.

    Unless they're really confident in their abilities to get it ready in so little time.

  7. Avatar

    Chris Payne

    What is the point of this software again? (I mean, I know what it does.) So many issues and better things to focus on, but yet MS highlights Story Remix (which is just an enhancement to an existing app) as something huge, and the press covers it like it's the next Ishtar. Has the world gone bonkers? Or is this just another example of MS completely screwing the pooch on messaging and delivery? My guess is the latter.

  8. Avatar

    Win74ever

    Windows 10 will be over by 2020. Microsoft is just wasting time and trashing the Windows legacy with Windows 8 and 10.

  9. Avatar

    Darekmeridian

    Putting things in perspective, this is not the linchpin app that's going to change the direction of Windows on a whole. I sort of get Paul's point about over-promising, but apparently it's coming and maybe for six months it'll be cool and people will be uploading Story Remixes to YouTube then it will be relegated to the pile of apps parents use to make funny videos of their kids. The next Apocalypse Now most likely isn't going to be a Story Remix title.


    Someone please explain to me why everyone is in such a huff over the delivery of this app?



  10. Avatar

    warren

    You know what's frustrating? Watching Microsoft re-implement, and then re-re-implement the same photo library capabilities, over and over again. And every reimplementation leaves behind something useful.... didn't the Windows XP/Vista version of this program include the ability to order prints? No sign of that in Photos.


    The worst part is that most of what's new in Photos 1709 is stuff that was in iPhoto or Aperture a decade ago!

  11. Avatar

    DorianFarrimond

    I've tweeted them a few times to ask how they can release two updates intended for "Creators" and not even include simple productivity features for that audience - like thumbnail support for SVG's in Explorer. No response.


    In a broader sense, this is yet more proof of my theory of Microsoft being a company of full of people with spectacular tech skills, but led by awful product teams. As you say Paul, "Creators" wasn't a fully realised product strategy, it was just a whim someone had to target Apple and try and look cool.

    • Avatar

      Waethorn

      In reply to Paradroid888:

      Apple gave up on that plan too. iLife is dead. iWork needs, well, work. Aperture is gone. Final Cut has disappeared in favour of the iMovie gimp (and who really uses it anymore?), Final Cut Pro and Mac Pro's are laughable. Xserve is discontinued. And Apple is settling into a pretty restrictive 12-13" Macbook screen size. The only 15" laptop that Apple sells STARTS AT $3200CAD (Yes, seriously!).


      Basically, you have iOS, and the hardware that runs it, and not much else worth mentioning coming out of the Spaceship(TM).

  12. Avatar

    navarac

    Just tried it out on "Skip ahead". Doesn't seem any different to previous efforts. Not that I'll be using it to 'create'.

  13. Avatar

    maxpayi

    :))) Well, I wouldn't be so surprised because it is not the first time they only talk and never deliver or deliver half baked. It has happened before, Paul, and you know it. Trusting Microsoon these days is worse than believing you are actually gonna win the next lottery draw :)) One thing you could think of for a future article: what do you think enterprises think of these talk talk talk and never deliver, lies and total lack of commitment from MS? How long do you think MS can continue to fool enterprises to trust them? Because enterprises are made of people, users, that also read the news...I for one would not trust my business into a company like MS, full of liars more than it's minimum necessary.

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