Editorial

Windows 10 19H2 is still MIA, and it looks bad for Microsoft

Back in February, Microsoft shocked everyone by releasing the first Windows 10 20H1 build to Skip Ahead Insiders. The reason it was so surprising is that that was typically the time that we'd see previews for the update that's coming in the second half of the year, 19H2. While speculation was running rampant, we were assured that 19H2 was still coming and it wasn't canceled, leading many to believe that Skip Ahead would be for 20H1 and the Fast ring would be for 19H2.

This didn't end up being the case. In April, it was announced that 20H1 would be flighted to the Fast ring, while 19H2 builds would begin arriving later in the spring. Naturally, you can't put someone on 20H1 and then push them backward to 19H2, so it's worth assuming that 19H2 will arrive in the Slow ring, unless Microsoft is planning on creating a new ring.

The deadline gets missed

Today is the first day of summer though, meaning that Microsoft missed its own deadline. As is tragically common with the firm, there's been radio silence about why it's delayed. We do get updates from the Windows Insider team fairly early on that it's not coming in a certain week, but there's no word on why.

It's clear that this is a company that can't communicate effectivelyThe communication issues with Microsoft seem to happen time and time again. In November, I wrote that the silence on the Windows 10 version 1809 delay was deafening. Microsoft had released a major feature update for Windows 10, pulled it due to some users having their files deleted upon upgrading, and didn't provide an update for the general public for about a month and a half. Once again, there was radio silence. It's clear that this is a company that can't communicate effectively.

Some might say that because deadlines get missed, it's best for Microsoft not to set deadlines for itself at all. Those people are missing the point. All it would take is a simple statement regarding the delay. For example, at Build 2017, Joe Belfiore announced some features coming in the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update. The features didn't arrive in time, but rather than publicly saying that the feature was delayed, Microsoft opted to say that it never said the features were coming in Windows 10 version 1709 to begin with.

Another communications blunder would be when Microsoft promised that all devices running Windows Phone 8.1 would get Windows 10 Mobile, and then only a small subset of devices got the update. The company responded by saying that it never promised that.

This time, Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc said that Microsoft has a different definition of spring than the rest of the world, rather than providing a new target timeframe.

The point is that it's OK to make promises, and sometimes not deliver. Plans change, schedules change, roadmaps change, and sometimes it's just too hard to get something done in the timeframe originally estimated. Clear communication is the key here, and that was supposed to be the point of the Windows Insider Program. It was supposed to be sort of crowd-sourced Windows 10 development, with enthusiasts being in on the action.

The Slow ring is a waste

Back in June 2018, I wrote that the Windows Insider Program's Slow ring is becoming a joke. For several development cycles now, Microsoft has struggled to hit its target of monthly builds in the Slow ring. You can check out Flight Hub for evidence of this. With 19H1 development, there wasn't a single Slow ring build until about three weeks before the RTM build shipped to the Fast ring.

The problem actually started with Redstone 4, and Microsoft actually promised to solve the problem by servicing Fast ring builds. And while those builds did get serviced, we still didn't see them any more frequently.

19H2 is going to RTM in three monthsNow, it would seem that the Slow ring has its very own development branch, which is going to be 19H2, and Microsoft still can't ship a build to the ring. 19H2 is going to RTM in three months, and there's radio silence. The Slow ring is still on Windows 10 version 1903, the same as non-Insiders.

All signs point to Windows 10 19H2 being a minor update, so it's tough to even speculate what the delay might be. Xbox Insiders in the Skip Ahead ring have been testing it since March, and it doesn't increase the major build number. The builds that they're getting are numbered 18362.7xxx. Being that there's a small jump between the 1903 RTM and the early 20H1 builds, it does seem likely that 19H2 will ship with only an increase to the minor build number, like a cumulative update.

As I seem to write over and over in articles, it's just a big communications failure. Microsoft likes to keep a tight lid on things for some kind of a big reveal, and it tends to come back to bite them. It would just be nice if the company would simply talk to us, since that's what the Windows Insider Program was supposed to be for. You can't ask us for feedback and then not talk to us. Communication is a two-way street.

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