Thinking About a Possible July Launch of Windows 10

Posted on April 20, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 0 Comments

Thinking About a Possible July Launch of Windows 10

AMD’s CEO has said that Windows 10 will “launch” in July, a casual utterance that may or may not reflect the current thinking in Redmond. But assuming she wasn’t just making air-shaped noises, let’s consider the horrible, unready quality of Windows 10 today and wonder aloud how Microsoft could possibly make this July date. I have a theory.

First, the quote.

During an earnings conference call with press and analysts, AMD president and CEO Lisa Su answered a question about processor inventory in the coming quarters like so.

“With the Windows 10 launch at the end of July, we are watching sort of the impact of that on the back-to-school season, and expect that it might have a bit of a delay to the normal back-to-school season inventory build-up.”

Now, launch is a very specific word. It’s different from “RTM,” or “release to manufacturing,” the term we typically use to describe the completion of a software product, even though there is no real manufacturing process per se anymore. RTM isn’t launch—it precedes the launch by some number of weeks or even months—but in Microsoft’s world, RTM isn’t really even the final milestone in a product’s development lifecycle. Indeed, with OS products in particular, RTM is just a step down a path.

So launch is a curious word.

It suggests that Microsoft will kinda/sorta “complete” the code for Windows 10 some number of weeks before the end of July. This seems impossible. It seems impossible even if you believe that Microsoft will stage the Windows 10 launch and releases versions for PCs/tablets, phones, Internet of Things embedded devices, and other platforms at different times. It just seems … impossible.

But here’s the thing.

The team in charge of Windows these days—what we just think of as “the Windows team”—is in fact what used to be the team in charge of Windows Phone. Terry Myerson’s team, essentially. And the Windows Phone group wasn’t doing things like the old Windows teams because of differences in their respective markets. My guess—and this holds regardless of what the actual schedule is for Windows 10—is that today’s Windows team will do likewise. They will RTM/launch/ship Windows 10 like they used to do with Windows Phone. Not like the old Windows teams used to do with Windows.

And that means that RTM, as I said, is just a milestone. Microsoft will deliver the Windows 10 codebase “to manufacturing”—again, sort of a historical/traditional/made up term these days since most everything is done electronically now—meaning that some build will be delivered to whatever hardware makers. This could be PC makers. It could be phone makers. Whatever.

Microsoft will deliver this build knowing full well that it is in fact not actually complete. That there will be bugs found between RTM and GA, another wonderful word from the Microsoft past that means “general availability,” i.e. the time at which actual paying customers can get their hands on the OS. That they will fix these bugs—even add features—between RTM and GA.

With Windows Phone, Microsoft did this because its hardware partners needed time to test the OS on their unique hardware configurations, and the eventual phones they made wouldn’t ship until months later in most cases. And as we discovered with Windows Phone 8, when outsiders like me and other reviewers were let in under the kimono a little bit, things always change between RTM and GA. Some of those changes Microsoft knows are going to happen, because they’re planning on using that additional time to fine tune things. Some are surprises brought to them by the hardware makers.

The thing that’s changed since Windows Phone 8, and this is relevant to this discussion too, is that Microsoft had purposefully started pulling functionality out of the base OS and putting it into apps that could be updated much more frequently and on their own schedule. In the old days, you waited years between OS releases. With Windows Phone, you might wait several months or a year. Now, you can get updates—via apps—almost daily. And as you do, the “OS”—or at least your phone/device—just keeps getting better. There’s no monolithic “thing” that never or rarely changes.

Windows 10, I believe, will benefit or at least be impacted by all of those changes. With Windows 10, I bet, all of these old fashioned terms—RTM, GA, whatever—just sort of go by the wayside. Windows 10 is never done. It ships in some state on whatever date and then it just keeps getting updated. RTM doesn’t matter. In fact, RTM becomes really uninteresting, because the whole thing could be a lot better on RTM + 7 days, RTM + 30 days, or RTM + 1 year, or whatever.

So the dates sort of don’t matter, unless of course you’re hoping to attend some big launch party.

All that said… a late July launch? LOL, yeah right. That’s hilarious, unless of course you believe that what we’ve seen so far has been purposefully presented poorly to throw everyone off the trail. Which, as you will agree, is more than a bit far-fetched.

July? That would be amazing. I just don’t see it happening.

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