Learning from the Microsoft software update nightmare

February 13th, 2019
Learning from the Microsoft software update nightmare

Microsoft faces another wave of criticisms after the release of Windows 10 version 1809, which became widely available in October 2018. The update is deleting some users’ personal files, and apparently, there’s no way of recovering them. This prompted Microsoft to withdraw the update four days after its initial release. Delayed and buggy updates have been a common occurrence with regards to Windows updates, and many users feel that Microsoft becomes more indifferent with each passing blunder.

This time around, the update often fails before installation even begins, and for that, you should blame Microsoft's dependence on the Windows Insider program to fix bugs.

Microsoft’s reliance on the Windows Insider program

Before the creation of the Insider program in October 2014, Microsoft had an in-house Quality Assurance team to test updates and software before they were released to beta testers and eventually regular users.

With the Windows Insider program, people who check for updates and religiously seek out the next feature can have a go at Windows’s latest updates before they get released to the public. The idea is that Insiders will test the updates, report bugs to Microsoft to be fixed before they release the update to the public. However, there are some issues that appear only after the public release. Public users can then report issues to Feedback Hub.

But among the millions of Insiders, the majority are fans of the company and only use the platform to tell Microsoft what they want to see in the future. Complaints of other users don’t get noticed if the issue isn’t widespread. This is problematic because loss of data, regardless of scale, is a serious problem.

What Microsoft fails to realize is the Insider program can’t work like a normal beta, and despite the blunders of 2018, the company still hasn’t rehired the dedicated testers they laid off in 2014.

Microsoft’s response on the issue

Mike Fortin, corporate vice president of Windows, posted an article on November 13, 2018 regarding the complexity of updating an operating system (OS) on such a large scale. He said it was the first time in the history of Windows 10’s Windows-as-a-Service (WaaS) that they needed to pause an update release to address a “small” but serious issue.

He assured users that the file deletion incidents have been steadily declining since the Windows 10 October 2018 update’s official launch. He also specified the steps on how they conduct tests in Redmond. He even explained their aggressive “self-host” culture where employees working on Windows are forced to run the latest internal versions of the operating systems, and make sure that development teams within the Windows 10 division use their own builds to illuminate issues to their programmers firsthand. It was all very informative, but never in his 2000-word article did he mention how Microsoft will prevent such issues in the future.

Temporary solution

Automatic updates are supposed to help users protect their systems from ever-evolving security threats. This is because many people aren’t diligent enough to manually update their software. But problems arise when a problematic update like Windows 10 1809 is installed without you knowing. What’s more, users are unknowingly opted into beta software testing.

Enterprise users have the privilege to delay their automatic updates for 35 days to check whether their systems will be negatively impacted by the update. There was no such option for home users until recently. Individual users can now delay the update for seven days to check if it will be compatible with their device and existing software before they install it.

Losing invaluable data can be catastrophic for individuals and businesses alike. If your Riverside, Orange County, Los Angeles, or Corona business wants to know more about Windows updates and its compatibility with your systems, or if you want more info on our cloud services, contact Forum Info-Tech and learn from our experts.


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