Why The Windows 10 Fast Ring Needs To Be Faster

Microsoft’s Gabe Aul has taken to the Windows Blog site to offer up a great piece on the Windows 10 Technical Preview cadence and why dates are not broadcasted out to the public.  The article can be found here and I’m not going to waste your time by rehashing the entire post which is quite lengthy.  The article lays out in great detail the internal processes and testing schedules, the balance of too fast versus too buggy and why they don’t set dates (HINT: It is beta software so if they run into a showstopper internally, they will postpone a release.  They publish a date and miss it, the masses will revolt).  Again, give it a read.  It’s worth it.

What I will do however is say is that I understand the logic that Mr. Aul lays out in this post, particularly around show stopping bugs.  If you have a bug that gets out that crushes every PC it is installed on, you will have a huge problem on their hands.  Microsoft and many sites have pointed out that Windows 10 is in beta and it will be buggy.  Unfortunately a lot of people forget that when they are looking at a BSOD or worse, a corrupt boot sector on their laptop after installing the Preview.  Microsoft cannot afford that kind of misstep.  So they are taking their time.  The question however, is should they risk a little more, particularly on the “Fast Ring”?  I think so and here is why.

By definition, the Fast Ring on the Windows 10 Technical Preview – be it for PCs and Tablets or Windows 10 for Phones – is for that group of testers who want the latest updates and builds faster.  Logically therefore, this group of testers are willing to put up with bigger bugs and issues in the sake of beta testing.  If not, go to the Slow Ring.  As I put in my comments just before Windows 10’s first preview released, if you decide to load up the Windows 10 Technical Preview, the assumption is you are going to be responsible and actually test the software.  You have a responsibility:  To Microsoft, To yourself, to the billions of PC owners out there… yes, even to me as a fellow tester/user.

Contrast this with the Slow Ring.  These are the not-on-the-edge testers.  They ones that want stability over new features to test and certainly want a less buggy release.

The problem, and Gabe Aul alluded to this in his post, is that the Fast Ring feels like the Slow Ring right now.  It has been 40 days since the last Windows 10 Technical Preview and while there is a glimmer of hope we will see an update this week (based on Gabe’s article outlining hypothetical dates), it could still be another week or two.  For the Fast Ring, that’s just too long.  While I fully appreciate that Microsoft wants and needs to have as stable a platform as possible, they should be able to let more fly through the Fast Ring when it comes to quirky bugs.  I’m not talking about BSODs.  I’m talking about if-you-click-here-it-does-this-which-clearly-isn’t-right kind of bugs.

The Fast Ring in the Windows 10 Technical Preview is for – indeed designed for – these kinds of bugs to get out there so people can encounter them, report them on the wide range of hardware that is out there so Redmond can address them.  Without letting go a little bit and getting some of this quirky bugs out there, Microsoft runs the risk of being in their own echo chamber.  I would contend that a “slow” Fast Ring is detrimental to the progress of Windows 10.

Reading this post on the Windows Blog, I do think that we will see faster releases of Windows 10 Technical Preview builds in the future, particularly for the Fast Ring.  I hope so.  40 days when you are beta testing software the size and scope of Windows 10 is just too long between releases for the Fast Ring.  That’s fine for the Slow Ring but the Fast Ring should be half that:  15-20 days between releases.   Time will tell but as a Fast Ringer, I’m hoping to see new Windows 10 bits this week.

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