Microsoft is making new strides in their update process with Windows as a Service. Specifically, their new direction updates the process of building, deploying and servicing Windows.
Us IT admins are used to seeing Windows version updates every few years—along with the new interface our users then have to learn. For the last year or two we’ve had to deal with Microsoft’s upgrade refinements that included service packs and hot fixes to remedy problems in the latest releases, placing a burden on IT support. So, how will this new direction affect us administrators? The verdict is still out.
But with the new Windows upgrades, users will get features more quickly and the learning curve won’t be as steep. Though this system has been in the works since 2014, some problems are becoming apparent. For starters, Windows 10 mobile wasn’t up to par. Released in December 2015, Windows 10 mobile faced plenty of criticism. One major issue was update frequency. Windows 10 mobile always felt “unfinished.” Three years later, Windows 10 Mobile seems stable enough to use without frequent crashes, however, Microsoft seems to have given up on the Windows Mobile platform, as no phones have been released recently and no new features have been added to the Mobile OS.
One of the greatest features of Windows as a Service is the Windows Insiders Program, included in every installation of Windows 10. This program lets thousands of users post feedback, vote on feature requests, or enable the installation of “insider” beta builds of the OS. This lets every Tom, Dick, and Harry be a beta tester! It may not be the best idea, but at least it gives users the sense their voice is being heard.
One of the greatest casualties of the new Windows as a Service was the loss of some robust creative development tools. This came about with the release of the Fall Creators Update. If you were a user of tools like the Surface Pro or the Surface Book, you lost some abilities in Windows Ink-enabled pens. No longer could users press and drag selections or objects as expected. The new pen-scrolling feature replaced the ability to drag selections around groups of files in file explorer and users could no longer tap and drag files to move or copy them to other locations. In Outlook, this broke the tap and drag function used to move an appointment to another time slot. Essentially, all tap and drag functions were broken by the update.
The release of the Fall Creators Update also broke Automatic Inking, a feature that recognized when the user was holding a pen and automatically switched to an inking tool, even if the user wasn’t going to use it for inking! So, every time a user tries to press a button with the pen, it switches to writing instead, most notably in PhotoShop. Worse yet, there’s no way to disable Automatic Inking, unless possibly by disabling the tablet drivers.
These are just a few of the issues encountered. There is now talk of a class action suit being filed for rendering some professional grade tablets all but useless. Microsoft has announced that the Spring Creators Update would allow for a Registry edit that reverts the pen behavior, but only for Win32 applications. Apparently, in testing it was found that using the pen in Windows 10 Mail now scrolls the e-mail AND selects text, making it even more difficult to use!
Users could have opted for the “Long Term Servicing Channel” version of Windows 10 that doesn’t include all the broken features. While this version of Windows 10 includes a servicing lifetime of 10 years, it doesn’t include Windows Store, Edge, Cortana, and Camera and is only available to Enterprise volume license users.
On a positive note, Office 365 and Azure seem to be doing really well in the “as a Service” realm. So, what are they doing right? For starters O365 isn’t releasing broken updates. All additions to O365 subscriptions like Teams, Planner and To Do integration are offered as “opt in” services. These features must be actively enabled by an administrator. The O365 team seems to understand their users have many different needs and they accommodate with a wide variety of tools—without breaking the old ones. Also, the subscription plans tend to be flexible, allowing users to add (and pay) only for the services their organization/users needs. All you need to do is learn how to modify these apps and make them work the way you want them to instead of being forced into usage scenarios that don’t work.
Though you may not be able to depend on the latest Windows update, one thing’s for certain. You can always depend on Anexinet’s expert consultants for help with your Office 365 migration. Just reach out to us with any questions or concerns. We’d be happy to get you started.