Microsoft has postponed the release of the next Windows 10 feature upgrade for an unspecified period, saying that, among other things, the code harbored a bug that crippled some personal computers.
"In certain cases, these reliability issues [we discovered] could have led to a higher percentage of (BSOD) on PCs," wrote Dona Sarkar, the head of Microsoft's Windows Insider preview program, in a Monday post to a company blog. She was using the acronym for "Blue Screen of Death," the crash error screen made infamous by Windows.
In that post, Sarkar announced the release of 17134 for the "Fast" track of Windows Insider, saying Microsoft had decided to issue a new build rather than patch its predecessor, Build 17133. The latter, which Microsoft first delivered March 27, had at one time been slated to graduate on April 9 to what the Redmond, Wash. company dubs "Release Preview." The appearance of Release Preview has been a signal that the production-quality code is not far behind.
But in an April 5 update, Sarkar struck out the line "We are targeting full availability to Release Preview Monday 4/9," indicating that it had been postponed.
Two months ago, Computerworld predicted that, based on when Microsoft forked its code base to generate a preview for the fall's feature upgrade, the spring upgrade would start reaching customers on either April 3 or April 10.
In the past four feature upgrades - designated 1511, 1607, 1703 and 1709 in Microsoft's yymm identifier - the company has only once released the operating system during the listed month. (That was 1511, which went live on Nov. 10, 2015.) The remaining trio missed their labeled months by two days (1607), five days (1703) and 17 days (1709). The upcoming feature upgrade, aka 1803, will set the record, then, for the number of days past the identified month.
For Microsoft's most important customers - enterprises - the timing of 1803's release is of little immediate import, as they generally do not deploy a feature upgrade until months after its debut. In fact, Microsoft usually waits three to four months before announcing that the current upgrade has been sufficiently stress tested (by consumers, in large part) and proven to successfully install on a wide range of systems, and thus suitable for corporate use.
But the longer the postponement, the less time 1803 will be maintained by Microsoft. And that may tick off enterprises.
Although Microsoft has played loose with the link between release timetables and upgrade monikers, it has not done so with the corresponding end-of-support deadlines. The latter have been rigorously set as the second Tuesday of the month 18 months hence for Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro, and 24 months in the future for Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education.
The Windows lifecycle fact sheet lays it all out. Windows 10 1709, for example, which released Oct. 17, 2017, is to drop off support April 9, 2019 (for Home and Pro), and Oct. 8, 2019 (Enterprise and Education).
For instance, if 1803 releases three weeks from now on May 9, Windows 10 Home and Pro users will have 17 months of support, Windows 10 Enterprise and Education users 23 months, unless Microsoft breaks with practice and moves the Oct. 8, 2019 (Home and Pro), and April 14, 2020 (Enterprise and Education), deadlines correspondingly.
Previously, Computerworld has spelled out the dangers that delays pose to Microsoft's hard-and-fast twice-annual feature upgrade schedule, and some analysts have argued that Microsoft has yet to produce that cadence.
Windows 10 1803 looks to be the test case.