While this week’s pre-release build of Windows 10 version 1607 isn’t the final release, it’s very close, and development of this major update is effectively over, with only certain classes of bug fixes allowed to impact the few remaining builds.
So let’s take stock of where we are, both within the context of the Anniversary update—which will bring Windows 10 forward to version 1607—and what we can expect next.
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“We’re beginning to check in final code in preparation for releasing the Windows 10 Anniversary Update to customers on August 2nd,”Microsoft’s Dona Sarkar wrote in the release announcement. “But we’re not finished yet and will have more builds to release to Windows Insiders between now and then. Remember you guys play a big role in helping us decide which are the final final bits that we ship globally.”
There are a few facts in there. First, Microsoft already knows that build 14383 is not the final build, so we can’t call it a “release candidate,” as this build quite literally is not a candidate for the final release. And there will be “more builds”—i.e. not just one more build—before the Anniversary update is finalized.
As for when the Anniversary update is finalized, well, we do have a hard stop on August 2, when it is publicly released. Realistically, of course, it will be finalized before then—I’m thinking a few weeks before then—and since the release is a bit under four weeks from now, we still have some breathing room.
That time frame may be confusing to some Windows enthusiasts, especially those who actually experienced the dawn of the 32-bit era with Windows 95 or subsequent NT-based releases such as Windows XP. But the old rules no longer apply. And that’s true on a number of levels.
Today, Windows 10 is delivered and supported like a service, with continuous updates, and we don’t have to wait many months or even years for core OS features to be upgraded or improved. This is true of the publicly-available Windows 10 versions, and it’s especially true of the Insider Preview builds, which are these days often provided on a weekly basis.
That strategy means that the Anniversary update arrives in a very different world from the one you may recall from the past. It means that it doesn’t have to meet the same high quality bar as did past RC/RTM releases because, again, Microsoft can and will update this system at any time when needed. So the final release, such as it is, isn’t really final. It won’t even be feature-complete. (Bash, for example, will ship in beta form in this release, and the bundled OS apps are updated all the time.) In fact, it’s a little bit arbitrary.
But it’s still a milestone, of course, no matter what Microsoft calls it. And in the same way that the original Windows 10 release—retroactively versioned to 1507—and version 1511 were big markers along the way, so too will be 1607. But in the days, weeks, and months to follow, Windows 10 version 1607 will be updated regularly too. It never gets stale, or out-of-date. And then we’ll move on to the next milestone.
Speaking of which. The next milestone, Redstone 2—remember, the Anniversary update was originally codenamed Redstone 1—is still expected in spring 2017. That’s a longer break between releases than the four month delta between 1507 and 1511 (at least on the PC side) and the 8 month delta between 1511 and 1607. And that is … interesting. I’m not sure whether that means that Redstone 2 will be an even bigger release than 1607, but I suspect that the timing has more to do with new Microsoft Surface devices than any new features. Time will tell, of course.
I do know this. Microsoft isn’t taking any time off after the release of 1607: I was told that they would transition immediately to Redstone 2.
“It’s feeling like ship season around here,” Ms. Sakar noted. Yep. It sure does feel that way. But then it kind of always does these days, doesn’t it?