Underpromise and overdeliver — an easy concept to grasp, but not always to execute. When it comes to Windows 10, it’s particularly difficult to pull off, as Microsoft was once again reminded this week.
Windows 10 is a service, meaning it was built in a very different way from its predecessors so it can be regularly updated with not just fixes, but new features, too. Microsoft has released many such updates, including three major ones: November Update, Anniversary Update, and Creators Update. The next one is the Fall Creators Update, which brings even more functionality.
As part of these updates over the past two years, Microsoft has also delayed many Windows 10 features, from minor tweaks to major additions. The two biggest delays were My People and Timeline. The former was originally unveiled as part of the Creators Update, but was ultimately delayed to the Fall Creators Update. The latter was announced as part of the Fall Creators Update, but has now been delayed, likely until next year.
Correct. Timeline won't be in the Fall Creators Update. We're planning for it to be in early insider builds shortly after FCU is out.
— Joe Belfiore (@joebelfiore) July 3, 2017
In other words, Microsoft is making the same mistake again and again. Furthermore, the company still isn’t sure how to communicate the delays, as evidenced by the fact the latest one came out during a casual conversation on Twitter.
I’ve heard many times from Microsoft officials that the company is struggling with marketing its Windows 10 updates. On the one hand, it’s important to let developers know what’s coming early and let testers try the features as soon as possible. At the same time, though, Microsoft wants to get users excited all the way up to launch, at which point there’s nothing “new” to show off.
This isn’t an easy problem to solve — Microsoft can’t not announce features and suddenly start including them in builds. That wouldn’t work; of course the feature should be explained before early versions of it start trickling out.
There are two ways the Windows 10 team can approach this. Microsoft should either pick fewer features to focus on per given update, or be more strict about when the more complex ones are announced. There’s nothing wrong with slipping in more functionality between the update’s announcement and its release. It’s certainly better than shipping a feature a year after it was first demoed.
Come on, Microsoft. Nobody will be mad if your free update has more features than you promised.
ProBeat is a column in which Emil rants about whatever crosses him that week.