When will the next Windows Build be released? A simple question gathering so many answers.
But the one that matters, after countless social media interactions, is that of Gabe Aul, General Manager OSG Data and Fundamentals, Microsoft.
“We are certainly not trying to be opaque,” Aul wrote via Microsoft’s Official Windows Blog.
“But the answer is more complex than it may seem it should be, and we’ve admittedly taken too long to reply to these points and left people wondering.”
The short answer, according to Aul, is that Redmond is probably being “too conservative” about pushing builds to the Fast ring for Windows Insiders.
“But the reality is that faster builds to you will include more bugs, and so far we’ve erred on the side of stability,” Aul explained.
“In the process though we’ve not had as much distinction between Fast and Slow. In our internal rings, our Canary ring probably sees 2X-3X as many builds as OSG because we catch problems in Canary and don’t push to OSG.”
This is a new approach for Microsoft, who admittedly are learning and evolving as the process goes on.
On the outside, Aul acknowledges that it may have some similarity to past Preview programs or the old CTP programs from Vista and earlier, but he insists there are “myriad differences” in both the approaches and underlying technologies.
But as speculation reaches fever pitch, and developer interest heightens, why is it so difficult for Microsoft to simply issue a date?
“It is counter-intuitive,” Aul explained, “but doing this actually makes builds get published more slowly and have less fresh content than by leaving the date open ended.”
If Microsoft were to announce a date, Aul says the company would need to require a “high confidence” of hitting it - something that at present, Redmond cannot do.
“It’s frustrating for you to hear a date and be let down if we miss it, and it’s frustrating and distracting for us too,” he added.
“Not only that, but it slows down our engineering since many of the same people who are scrambling after a missed date would otherwise have been making more forward progress on the product.”
Biding for time in a bid to fix bugs and re-spin builds if required, if Microsoft did have a great build in hand, as often happens, leading up to the date Aul says the company would hold on that build rather than ship it, putting the build in ‘escrow’.
“Why not just ship it early?” Al asked. “Well, some people get upset about the surprise, but also it sets expectations that sometimes we really mean a date and sometimes we don’t.
“We want people to know that when we say a date they can count on that date. In the worst case, if we’re chasing down a tough bug and run out of time, we may miss the date.
“This is of course way worse than being early. We’d have let down people who were counting on us to deliver on the date we said we would.”