Microsoft Credits AI for April 2018 Update Rollout Success

Posted on June 14, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 62 Comments

In a sharp retort to the feedback I’m getting from users, Microsoft claims that the April 2018 Update rollout is the most successful yet. And it credits Artificial Intelligence (AI) for this win.

Yes, really.

“For the first time, we’ve leveraged AI at scale to greatly improve the quality and reliability of the Windows 10 April 2018 Update rollout,” Microsoft’s John Cable explains. “Our overall rollout objective is for a safe and reliable update, which means we only go as fast as is safe.”

There is a lot of good data in the Microsoft announcement.

First, let’s talk quality. I continue to hear from readers and podcast listeners that the April 2018 Update is an unqualified disaster. It is far less reliably installed and works less well when installed than the previous two Windows 10 feature updates.

This is not the story that Microsoft tells, however.

“Early data shows the quality of the April 2018 Update exceeding earlier versions of Windows 10 in both reliability and performance,” Mr. Cable retorts, but then adds a qualifier. “Of course, this work is never done, and we continue to partner to with our hardware and software partners to drive additional performance and reliability improvements in Windows 10.”

He cites the following improvements:

  • 20 percent reduction in system stability issues.
  • 20 percent total reduction in operating system and driver stability issues, in collaboration with PC makers, on over 400,000 ecosystem drivers.
  • Faster updates by reducing the amount of time a PC is offline updating by up to 63 percent.
  • Microsoft Edge launch times improved by up to 40 to 50 percent on initial boot.
  • A continued reduction in call and online support requests to both Microsoft and PC makers with this update.

As noted, Microsoft credits its use of AI for these gains.

“Our AI approach intelligently selects [PCs] that our feedback data indicate would have a great update experience and offers the April 2018 Update to these devices first,” Cable writes. “As our rollout progresses, we continuously collect update experience data and retrain our models to learn which [PCs] will have a positive update experience, and where we may need to wait until we have higher confidence in a great experience. Our overall rollout objective is for a safe and reliable update, which means we only go as fast as is safe.”

That last bit is interesting, and here Microsoft actually corroborates, rather than refutes, my other major contention about the April 2018 Update. Which is that it has rolled out much more quickly than any other Windows 10 feature update.

“The April 2018 Update is officially the fastest version of Windows 10 to reach 250 million devices, achieving that mark in less than half the time it took the Fall Creators Update,” Cable notes.

That 250 million number is interesting. So is the fact that Windows 10 still hasn’t reached 700 million devices yet: Cable notes, again, that “Windows 10 is approaching 700 million monthly active devices.” Terry Myerson first made that claim way back in April.

But let’s return to that 250 million number.

As you may recall, the most recent AdDuplex report showed that 50 percent of all Windows 10 PCs out in the world were updated to the April 2018 Update (version 1803) in the first month of its release. If that were so, there would be roughly 350 million PCs running this version. But Microsoft says there are only 250 million.

The key here is that phrase “out in the world.” AdDuplex measures usage based on ads in Store apps, and it’s very likely that a big segment of the user base, in particular in the enterprise, isn’t reporting any usage data as a result. The important thing about the AdDuplex data is that it’s consistent with previous reports. And Microsoft actually does verify the AdDuplex claim that the April 2018 Update rollout is twice as fast as that of the previous release, as noted above.

And here’s the most amazing part, perhaps. Based on the success it’s seeing, Microsoft is actually going to further speed the April 2018 Update rollout. It’s going to release it to everyone effective immediately.

“We are now expanding the release broadly to make the April 2018 Update (version 1803) fully available for all compatible [PCs] running Windows 10 worldwide,” Mr. Cable writes. “Full availability is the final phase of our rollout process. You don’t have to do anything to get the update; it will rollout automatically to you through Windows Update.”

Incredible.

Literally. And on that note, I’d I’d just like to state for the record, again, that the feedback I receive is clear and that I get a ton of feedback from users both good and bad with every Windows 10 feature update. And Microsoft’s claims here about reliability and quality simply do not match what I’m seeing.

This is a first: When the Anniversary Update when south two years ago, Microsoft saw the same issues I did. And when the subsequent two feature updates were very successful, both Microsoft and I saw the same feedback from users. So it’s unclear to me what’s happening here. And I’m sorry if this makes me a bit suspicious, but it does.

Anyway, if you haven’t received the April 2018 Update yet, you’re about to. My advice is to block it for at least 30 days and see how things work out in the real world before allowing this to happen to your computer. Windows 10 Pro users can defer this update in Settings. Windows 10 Home users will need to get a bit more creative. And while there’s no great approach, the easiest way to do this is to configure your network connection as a metered connection in Settings. And then set a calendar/to-do reminder to disable that in the future.

Good luck.

 

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