back to article Memo to Microsoft: Windows 10 is broken, and the fixes can't wait

Windows isn't working – and Microsoft urgently needs to change how it develops the platform, and jettison three filthy practices it has acquired in recent years. In 2014 Microsoft decided it could do a better job if it discarded a lot of software testers. This bright new dawn was lauded at the time by Peter Bright at Ars …

  1. overunder Bronze badge

    I stopped right here...

    "This testing has been successful for Bing..."

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. cNova

      Re: I stopped right here...

      "QA still exists and is still important, but it performs end-user style 'real world' testing, not programmatic automated testing. This testing has been successful for Bing, improving the team's ability to ship changes without harming overall software quality,"

      Yeah, well, Bing aside, they've got it precisely backwards. They should ship software that increases software quality without introducing changes in either UI, functionality or "features", especially when the "features" are less useful than a break-dancing poo emoji, (coming soon, exclusively for enterprise!).

      1. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: I stopped right here...

        And to be fair, as an enterprise customer, I can think of several places where the breakdancing poo emoji may come in handy.

      2. cat_mara

        Re: I stopped right here...

        Yes, I think their conclusions are on shaky ground.

        "QA still exists and is still important, but it performs end-user style 'real world' testing, not programmatic automated testing. This testing has been successful for Bing, improving the team's ability to ship changes without harming overall software quality,"

        An equally valid conclusion is that Bing's overall quality is unaffected by the kind of testing carried out. See turds, and the efficacy of polishing same.

        1. Mark Manderson

          Re: I stopped right here...

          thats windows 10 aint it, a polished turd...oh no wait, its just a turd.

      3. JDX Gold badge

        Re: I stopped right here...

        According to the article they have kept QA for real-world end-user testing but dropped automated testing in favour of crowd-sourced testing... WTF?

        You can't replace automated tests - unit tests and so on - with human tests because some of these things are not directly testable at user level. Surely, crowd-sourced testing should (if should is the right word) replace some of the end-user testing instead?

    3. David 132 Silver badge

      Re: I stopped right here...

      Hey, give them credit. They had the ENTIRE Bing user-base doing testing.

      And he said it was OK to ship.

      1. PhillW

        Entire Bing user-base

        What, both them?

    4. Unicornpiss Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: I stopped right here...

      "This testing has been successful for Bing, improving the team's ability to ship changes without harming overall software quality,"

      --Don't you need some quality to begin with in order to harm it?

      But joking aside, what is Microsoft's rush? There is no additional revenue in any way I can understand by rushing to update and add 'features' to software that people have already purchased, one way or another. And the slip in quality control is likely scaring businesses and causing IT departments to take a hard look at more stable platforms, such as Linux.

      Really, MS has just confirmed what its users have suspected for years--that they test in production and the world is their beta testers. And like many IT folks, I have a love/hate relationship with Windows--it keeps me employed but makes my head pound with "What were they thinking??"

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I stopped right here...

        yep NEVER any QA issues in the world of Linux!

        1. Chronos Silver badge
          FAIL

          Re: I stopped right here...

          yep NEVER any QA issues in the world of Linux!

          Ah, bollocks, balderdash and tosh! There is no such thing as "Linux" as an operating system. You want stability? Run Debian stable. You want a decent desktop? Mint. A server? Debian. Paid for support? Dead rat/SUSE/Oracle or any number of vendors who would love to bite your arm off at the shoulder.

          What you're talking about, my anonymous commentard, are distros. Some are good, some are mediocre, some are bad. The point here is you can CHOOSE, which is something MS don't want you to do with Windows. How many times have 7 users been plagued by GetWinX and trying to keep the spyware out? Choose to run Windows 7? We'll make your life difficult until you capitulate and learn to love Cortana.

          When was the last time you saw a GNU/Linux distro telling you that update to Dead Rat 10 or GTFO are your only options?

          1. drankinatty

            Re: I stopped right here...

            well... you took the bait.... The most disappointing part is the lack of ability to focus on the issue at hand -- declining quality and QA problems in Redmond's release cycle. After having used windows since the says of Windows 286 on DOS 3.3 (remember the 32M partition limits?) one thing is clear. While there have always been patch releases at some interval (the ".1" or ".1a" releases long before the "SP1,2,3" days) windows releases have always been fairly solid. Yes exploits were found/created and the evolutionary arms race between miscreant and patch have settled into a monthly battle, but overall the windows releases were largely free of QA debacles. Through 386, 3.0, 3.1, 95 (OK, that was pretty bad), 98, ME, XP, 7, etc.. the OS and any SP's were relatively fine. With 10 and disbanding the dedicated testers in favor of a crowd-sourced QA, the wheels have all but fallen off. You can't compare the OpenSource community involvement with Linux to crowd sourced insider QA with windows. It's apples and oranges. Why? What can insiders do? At most they can complain about what doesn't work and provide diagnostic data, event logs, etc.. but have no clue as to what broke or where and have no way to communicate about the implementation details, or help with in any way beyond saying "It's broke". The crowd sourced insiders have no access to the source (and 99.9% have no clue what 'cl /nologo /W3 /Ox /Foobj/ /Febin/myexe /TC list of sources and libs' begins to describe) On the other side, the users are often the ones that develop and submit the patches and additions to whatever code or desktop is at issue. How someone running a software company would fail to recognize that fundamental distinction is simply bewildering. Giving dedicated testers the boot and relying on well intentioned, but ill equipped, insiders is a recipe for disaster. If you are going to charge for software, you have to make sure what you are selling works. If you are giving software away in exchange for help developing it -- you may expect a few more bumps along the road. And, that's fair.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: I stopped right here...

            "When was the last time you saw a GNU/Linux distro telling you that update to Dead Rat 10 or GTFO are your only options?"

            Systemd!

            1. Chronos Silver badge

              Re: I stopped right here...

              Systemd!

              Devuan, Debian+sysv-init, many others that I haven't tried because Devuan is familiar enough to me that I didn't see the point...

              Don't conflate Lennart's pet project with Linux. As an aside, I'm wondering if the corpse of SCO isn't twitching again since IBM bought Red Hat. Big Purple.

        2. Unicornpiss Silver badge

          Re: I stopped right here...

          "yep NEVER any QA issues in the world of Linux!"

          Let's not forget that most Linux distros are FREEWARE for any purpose. While Windows costs individuals and companies a LOT of money. The quality gap has really narrowed between Linux and Windows. IMO most Linux distros are more stable, and have a lot less schizophrenic UI than Win10. They don't nag you idiotically, the menus make sense, and they don't collect telemetry. True, they don't have some of the Win10 features, but since said features often work rather erratically and spy on you unless you take pains to prevent it, I know what I'll keep using.

          I'm not saying Linux is without flaws, but it's FREE, and very good. Try running Windows updates on a fairly up-to-date machine next to a freshly-imaged Linux machine getting updates and I'm still betting on the Linux machine finishing first and not needing a reboot.

    5. katrinab Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: I stopped right here...

      Bing seems to work fine for me.

      If I search for "Firefox", or "Google Chrome", I get as the first link:

      "Promoted by Microsoft - Microsoft Edge is the faster, safer browser on Windows 10 and it is already installed on your PC"

      Then the second link is the link to the relevant browser.

      If you do this from a computer that isn't running Windows 10, then the first link is the link to the relevant browser.

      That's the only thing Bing is used for, and it does it just fine.

    6. Anne-Lise Pasch

      Re: I stopped right here...

      Actually, "At Bing, the task of creating programmatic tests was moved onto developers, instead of dedicated testers."

      The failure was *moving* programmatic tests and not *collaborating on*.

      Suggests the developers had a culture of not testing themselves (In the Bing team - This may or may not be true) and that would certainly help if they started doing some basic unit/integration tests.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are times I strongly disagree with Andrew and delight in firing torpedoes below his waterline, but I'm 100% behind him on this, Windows update is utter shit.

    Even number one MS ass kisser Ed Bott says it's too much:

    https://www.zdnet.com/article/opinion-two-windows-10-feature-updates-a-year-is-too-many/

    1. fung0

      Broken, yes... and not fixable.

      I strongly agree with Andrew on his premise, not his solution. Hiring more testers now is not going to fix the problem. Microsoft has clearly demolished the corporate culture that once supported the Windows multi-million-line codebase.

      In the 1980s, I visited the MS 'campus' many times. There was an electric hum in the air. A feeling like NASA mission control, of many parts working together in perfect synchronization. Over the past couple of decades, all reports indicate that this culture of precision, responsiveness and attention to detail no longer exists. This kind of collapse is self-reinforcing. MS used to be a Mecca for software geniuses; now it's just a name for ambitious execs to put on their CVs.

      A corporate culture is like any fragile ecosystem: once it's lost, it would take a miracle of reverse entropy to ever see it rebuilt.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

        @fing0

        Quote: "MS used to be a Mecca for software geniuses"

        *

        Err....no....that's not right. Better: "MS used to be a provider of cash for software geniuses":

        - MSDOS - bought from Tim Paterson (who copied the design of CP/M)

        - MS C - bought from Lattice

        - MS Powerpoint - bought from Powerpoint

        - MS (Visual) Foxpro - bought from Dave Fulton

        - Internet Explorer - licensed from Spyglass

        *

        .......I could go on...........Did MS actually ORIGINATE anything at all?

        1. elgarak1

          Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

          Altair Basic/Basica/GW-Basic, developed by Bill Gates and Paul Allen themselves. Not much beyond that. They did make Word for Macintosh (developed originally for the Unix clone Xenix, then to DOS, and then on the Mac as first GUI version) ... but with heavy input from Apple and Steve Jobs, with things they really really did not want to do (like proportional fonts), but Apple forced them to.

          Did you know that their first OS was a Unix clone called Xenix? Oh how different the world could be...

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

            > Altair Basic/Basica/GW-Basic, developed by Bill Gates and Paul Allen themselves.

            When Bill and Paul were at Harvard they were able to use the DEC computer. It is alleged that there was an open source version of BASIC that Bill was able to obtain. When they developed Altair BASIC they used a DEC-20 to cross compile to 8080 using standard Intel tools (and did not pay for the computer time they used). The maths routines needed complete rewrite which was done by Monte Davidoff.

            > Did you know that their first OS was a Unix clone called Xenix?

            Xenix was a real Unix version 6 or 7 licenced from AT&T and ported to 8086 by 'The Santa Cruz Operation' (SCO), a software house that specialised in porting Unix to various machines. Later this was sold to SCO becoming SCO Xenix and later updated to System3 and renamed as SCO OpenServer.

        2. John Savard Silver badge

          Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

          To be fair, the design of CP/M was also ripped off - from the PDP-8 operating system OS/8. The fact that the Copy command was called PIP (Peripheral Interchange Program) is the smoking gun.

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

            > To be fair, the design of CP/M was also ripped off - from the PDP-8 operating system OS/8. The fact that the Copy command was called PIP (Peripheral Interchange Program) is the smoking gun.

            CP/M was developed on DEC machines at Intel while Gary was under contract to develop PL/M compilers. The CP/M BDOS was written in PL/M to prove that useful programs could be developed. Intel did not want CP/M as their plans for the 8080 did not include small computers and Gary was allowed to keep it for his own use.

            That the utility has the same name of PIP does not indicate that anything was 'ripped off'.

        3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

          > - MSDOS - bought from Tim Paterson (who copied the design of CP/M)

          There are some that say that Tim copied the code of CP/M, specifically of version 1.2.

          Both SCP and MS were OEM licenced for CP/M. SCP for their Zebra range, MS for the Z80 Softcard for the Apple II. Both had all the source code that DRI would supply to its OEMs. The BDOS, however, was written in PL/M and supplied as a binary because it was invarient. At the time there were 'commented decompilers' available for various software, including CP/M BDOS. There was also an Intel 8080 -> 8086 ASM translator.

          SCP was developing 8086 processor boards for their Zebra machines and needed an OS to test with. It has been claimed that they decompiled the BDOS, ran it through the Intel translator and recompiled (with many fixups) to get the initial QDOS. This would have had CP/M file system which would have been needed as they would have built the system the system using CP/M, swapped the processor board and rebooted.

          The MS FAT filesystem was added later from MS's 'Stand-alone BASIC'.

          It is alleged that when IBM was testing PC-DOS, Gary Kildal was able to enter a particular command and get a DRI copyright message displayed. IBM settled giving Gary money, agreeing to sell CP/M-86 alongside PC-DOS and rewriting the BDOS - which became version 1.25.

          The reason that it is alleged to be version 1.2 that was copied is that it had a specific bug in handling the FCBs and this bug existed in the earliest MS-DOS and PC-DOS - prior to 1.25.

          SCP initially licenced Microsoft non-exclusively for 86-DOS (or SCP-DOS) running on 8086 CPUs. In theory its use on 8088 was breaking the licence. Later, MS purchased it outright and this gave SCP as many free copies of MS-DOS as required as long as they were sold with a computer. When the SCP factory burned down they started selling a V20 chip (faster 8088 clone with 8080 support) with a copy of MS-DOS. MS had to buy back the agreement for a million or so.

          > - Internet Explorer - licensed from Spyglass

          Spyglass wrote IE, it was not a version of Mosaic but was new code, on the basis of getting a royalty ($5?) for every copy sold. MS gave away IE and thus none were sold and no royalties were paid. Spyglass sued and eventually won a settlement of some millions, but by then the company had folded.

        4. deadlockvictim Silver badge

          Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

          AC» .......I could go on...........Did MS actually ORIGINATE anything at all?

          Excel (née Multiplan) is a Microsoft original.

        5. Chronos Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

          Did MS actually ORIGINATE anything at all?

          Clippy! :-)

        6. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

          "Did MS actually ORIGINATE anything at all?"

          Yes, they developed their first product, Microsoft BASIC, themselves, and I believe that they developed Windows. Beyond that, I can't think really think of anything.

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

            > they developed their first product, Microsoft BASIC, themselves,

            It has been alleged that Altair BASIC was 'based on' an open source BASIC interpreter for DEC computers. As Intel 8080 development software ran on DEC it wouldn't have been too hard. Monte wrote the maths routines that were required.

        7. Pat 4

          Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

          ".......I could go on...........Did MS actually ORIGINATE anything at all? "

          Ehhhh... Clippy?

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

        "In the 1980s, I visited the MS 'campus' many times. There was an electric hum in the air."

        Yes, me too. I haven't been back in years, though. I wonder if it still exudes that creepy Bill-worshipping-cult vibe like it did back then?

        "MS used to be a Mecca for software geniuses"

        I don't remember Microsoft ever being that, to be honest.

        1. RainCaster

          Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

          I remember those days, because I worked there. That was after running my own Unix driver consultancy for 9 years. They had a very high hiring bar and testers were on equal footing with the developers.

      3. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

        Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

        I also agree with the premise. Better formal testing is part of the solution, but Microsoft needs to build better quality in from the start, not try to merely test the bugs out later.

        Quality is something you design in, not tack on. It's not a coat of paint.

        I read the article Monday. I think the author is on the right track.

        https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/10/microsofts-problem-isnt-shipping-windows-updates-its-developing-them/

      4. KimJongDeux

        Re: Broken, yes... and not fixable.

        Bring back Ballmer

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Windows 10 is officially a shit show

      BIG! THUMBS! UP! for that article!

  3. Sureo

    Please Please

    ... just go back to Windows 7, issue SP2 and let us get on with our lives.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Please Please

      >> just go back to Windows 7

      Only if it was Windows 7 without the telemetry and all the other crap they have back-ported from 10; plus a working update system!

      1. fung0

        Re: Please Please

        Please define "working update system." Because I'm sure Microsoft thinks you mean what they have now in Windows 10.

      2. Piro

        Re: Please Please

        What do you mean by "working update system"? It works perfectly in 7, in fact, much, MUCH faster than in 10.

        The comparison is especially stark between Server 2012 R2 and 2016. Try updating both and see how slow the 2016 server updates.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge

          Re: Please Please

          What do you mean by "working update system"? It works perfectly in 7, in fact, much, MUCH faster than in 10.

          Well, it does once you've got that special speed-up Windows Update KB installed. Not an issue now for most, unless you've got a new Windows 7 install and you have to specifically install that one before thje rest. And even with that, some patches install out of order and once some later patch is installed, some earlier patches don't appear in the list any more.

          But this is relatively recent and indicative of the same malaise that's inflicting Windows 10.

          1. doublelayer Silver badge

            Re: Please Please

            For astronomy purposes, can you set your working hours for windows update to during the night to prevent the updates interfering with your imaging? This might help make these less likely. I assume the software required only works on windows?

            1. PhillW

              Re: Please Please

              For astronomy purposes, can you set your working hours for windows update to during the night to prevent the updates interfering with your imaging?

              Err.............. astronomy............. stars................. night

              1. doublelayer Silver badge

                Re: Please Please

                Me: "For astronomy purposes, can you set your working hours for windows update to during the night to prevent the updates interfering with your imaging?"

                Response: "Err.............. astronomy............. stars................. night"

                Err. Working hours supposed to prevent updates. Set them to at night, hopefully no updates at night. Updates only in daytime, when no stars visible from ground. On same page now?

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Please Please

          "t works perfectly in 7, in fact, much, MUCH faster than in 10."

          Update in 7 is an imperfect slug compared to what those of us who run other OSs are used to.

        3. Jakester

          Re: Please Please

          Window 7 updates only worked "perfectly" if Windows 7 was installed at the correct time. I believe if you installed during early 2017 for a few month period, some of the updates broke the update system. Updates would only work again after one or two specific updates were installed, which could be installed by Windows update, but that only worked if Windows update was working, which it wasn't.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Please Please

        "plus a working update system"

        They could backport that from Debian or most other Linux distros.

    2. Piro

      Re: Please Please

      Also; yes, this, a thousand times. A service pack 2 platform update for Windows 7 that included DirectX 12 and a few other tweaks, but rolled BACK the telemetry updates would be welcome.

      Then re-hire all their old QA guys and get some real testing done between each update.

      I have no love for Windows 8 or 10. They just don't feel finished, and 10 has somehow become less polished over time.

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

        Re: Please Please

        My latest laptop came with Win 8.1, and once Classic Shell was installed, and I had sorted out the settings (which are all over the place) I have got it working well. It is almost (but not quite) like W7 with a service pack added.

        I am very, very wary of touching anything W10 with anything shorter than a very long, preferably pointed barge pole (halberd or pole axe might do as well). Telemetry aside, I have fellow astronomers complaining that W10 will happily start an update halfway through an imaging session, wrecking data. Getting scope, camera, guide system, computer all working nicely is quite a hassle, and given the rarity of good, clear nights, the last thing you want when you have got everything working is for the OS to throw a spanner in the works. Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought two key roles of an OS were keeping programs running smoothly, and keeping data safe. Quite clearly, farming out testing to well-meaning enthusiasts is no replacement for professional software testing.

        1. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Please Please

          "Telemetry aside, I have fellow astronomers complaining that W10 will happily start an update halfway through an imaging session, wrecking data. Getting scope, camera, guide system, computer all working nicely is quite a hassle, and given the rarity of good, clear nights, the last thing you want when you have got everything working is for the OS to throw a spanner in the works. Call me old-fashioned, but I always thought two key roles of an OS were keeping programs running smoothly, and keeping data safe. Quite clearly, farming out testing to well-meaning enthusiasts is no replacement for professional software testing."

          W10 is a "fuck you, dear user, I'm updating and rebooting NOW" OS, like MS has always advertised.

          Not trying to defend them, but it's been clear for now years !

          So how are you surprised it's screwing up your work, astronomy or otherwise ? There are countless examples of this ! I've once worked as a volunteer for a cross country race where the same happened !

          By the time it finished to update, the race was over !

          Just move to another OS ...

  4. Franco Silver badge

    The fact that the September releases have been switched to a 30 month support lifecycle shows the pressure MS are under from the very people they shouldn't be pissing off. Enterprise is their core market, and flinging out these crappy releases as essentially public betas does not inspire confidence.

    1. Dave K Silver badge

      "Enterprise is their core market"

      Quite right, which is why there is one additional round of testing that the article didn't go into - end users. Once the update has been through the Insider program and is considered ready for release, it's important to note that it is only considered ready to release to home/small business users. Enterprises on the Current Branch for Business (as it used to be known) get the updates a bit later once the update has been unleashed on home users and any final major bugs have been called out and patched.

      Hence, these testing issues aren't a major concern for enterprise - they know that they'll only get the update once millions of other people have received it without major issue. It is however a big problem for home and small business users that are now being treated as a final round of testers for enterprise. It also means that instead of these bugs being caught and quietly patched during internal testing, they're now showing up on end-user systems and are causing much more noise and stink.

      Ultimately, I fully agree with the article. MS's development approach to Windows 10 is broken and changes need to be made if end users are to see Windows 10 as anything other than constantly flaky and beta software.

      1. rmason Silver badge

        Not my experience

        @Dave K

        Manage an enterprise environment that includes windows and windows 10.

        The 'feature updates' hit our WSUS server around the same time as the plebs get them. Within days normally.

        It's up to us to not approve them until the dust settles. Then we have a test group (we limit the laptop models we buy to one brand and 3-4 models for this reason), then we deploy.

        The update was there though. This particular feature update was available on the same day as the first articles about user issues appeared. The day before the data deletion thing became widely know.

        In fact we have a group of five test laptops *with* this current badgered feature update installed on them! something tells me they will have issues updating when the "fixed" version finally lands.

        This issue aside our fleet of laptops never struggle with updates *apart* from the feature update. they don't exhibit any issues, the update simply gets perma-stuck at "downloading, 0%" and they need manual intervention. this is probably 1 in 5 laptops. Which is a pain.

        Basically we catch them as and when we are interacting with that device for any other issue. It has become habit to check windows update status when doing *anything* to a user laptop.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Hence, these testing issues aren't a major concern for enterprise - they know that they'll only get the update once millions of other people have received it without major issue.

        Maybe, but those home users are typically doing very different things. The kinds of features that enterprises are using are not being tested at all in this model, and it shows.

        MS did have a go a while back at trying to get an Insiders for Business thing going, but as far as I know there's been very little take-up of that (not surprisingly). Also, the whole insider build approach assumes you're ok with regular in-place upgrades from one build to another, and this process in itself is not well suited to enterprise use.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          our wsus goes along the line of pick a base edition to start with (we started with 1604) then decide on a feature update later (1709 for us). Wait for the bugs to be fixed 3 months later then start testing. wait a year and start the process again. Technically 1809 will be our next feature update: ill probably wait till next summer for the bugs to be fixed.

        2. Tom 35 Silver badge

          Yes home users are great for testing anything domain related, large LANs, SharePoint integration...

      3. JohnFen Silver badge

        "which is why there is one additional round of testing that the article didn't go into - end users"

        Except that kind of testing is inadequate, no matter how many millions are in on it, for a number of reasons such as that the testing covers the use cases of home users, not corporate users (and even then, by definition, only the "happy path" will be heavily "tested"), there is no adequate reporting of problems found, and so forth.

        This notion that you can make up for a lack of quality by increasing quantity is fallacious.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's-a rubbish!

    I had a relatively minor problem (compared to some!) of an update breaking my graphics driver, seemingly disabling what I had and leaving me with some sort of generic driver with a choice of only three resolutions, none of which matched the native resolution of the monitor. I wish I could bill MS for the time I spent trying to fix the issue, but finally resorted to rolling back and, thankfully, everything worked OK again, even to the extent of the desktop icons being back in their rightful places. All my Win 10 machines (I have several computers around the house - some running a DIFFERENT operating system, I'll have you know!) are pro. version, so I have now disabled updates, using the group policy editor and disabling the service, which some folk state can be also over-ridden by MS. True, or not? We shall see but I am NOT updating again until there is a firm testing policy re-instated to get over the present debacle. (Definition: "a sudden and ignominious failure; a fiasco") !!!!!!!!!

    1. Wibble

      Re: It's-a rubbish!

      > I wish I could bill MS for the time I spent

      That's the root of this crappy attitude to testing: it's an overhead which can be offloaded to unpaid "enthusiasts". Unpaid means there's no contract, so no explicit commitment to quality, which is the raison d'etre of professional testers.

      Staggering naivety on the part of the senior management at MS.

      Of course, by extension, this naive culture means that *all* MS software will be unreliable, even the sacred cloudy software.

      If only MS ended up footing the bill for this short-sightedness. When's the class action suit happening?

      1. nematoad Silver badge

        Re: It's-a rubbish!

        "Staggering naivety on the part of the senior management at MS."

        I think you are being too generous. In my mind this is nothing to do with naivety but is a cynical "How can we boost our bonuses?" play. MS is not really concerned with their users, all they seem to worry about is how Wall Street reacts. If the money keeps rolling in why should the top brass give a damn about quality and testing? In their minds that is only an expense not something that should be central to all they do.

        As the old saying goes"Follow the money."

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: It's-a rubbish!

        "Staggering naivety on the part of the senior management at MS."

        This is part of the rotten core of the rapid release philosophy -- it's OK to release broken shit because you'll fix it in the next release.

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: It's-a rubbish!

      "which some folk state can be also over-ridden by MS. True, or not?"

      I have a computer with the service disabled, and a script that will kill it if it tries to start. And yes I have seen that script pop up a few times, most often when you plug in a new device even a USB stick, or a mouse.

  6. JohnFen Silver badge

    QA Prestige

    "Raise the prestige of testers in the company."

    Yes, and not just at Microsoft, but in the entire industry. QA professionals are just that -- professionals -- and are as critical to the success of a project as devs are. For far too long, I've seen QA treated as something "less than". They aren't, and treating them as such just degrades the performance of QA, which hurts everybody.

    1. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: QA Prestige

      Probably worth adding that an increasing number of senior management types are getting anxious about the potential liability for data breaches and other damage resulting from a failure to immediately apply the latest updates to all of their systems, so IT departments are finding it increasingly difficult to argue they need to hold off until they've checked compatibility or back out changes that are found to have operational consequences. This really means the vendors need more QA, not less - though Microsoft is far from the only culprit in this respect.

      1. frank ly

        Re: QA Prestige

        Everybody hates testers. Developers hate them because they find faults in the developer's baby and managers hate them because they slow down acceptance and release by finding faults. The really 'bad' ones find flaws in the test methodology and make formal reports about it. (I know, I was a software and system tester for many years.)

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: QA Prestige

          "Developers hate them because they find faults"

          I'm a developer and I love them precisely because they do this. When testers find mistakes I've made, we all look better to our customers. When customers find those mistakes, we all look worse.

          Testers make me look better, and I will forever love them for it.

          1. MatthewSt

            Re: QA Prestige

            Too true. Only shoddy developers hate testers (and shoddy managers for that matter, if that's not a redundant phrase!)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: QA Prestige

              I hate testers, but i think it's more the shoddy testers my place hires than testers in general.

              The highest bar was set during the first end to end test of a system, weeks/months into the testing when it's mostly signed off a working as expected, and the end of the process flagged up that they didn't receive the file they expected.

              investigations begin, the testers are adamant that it's passed all functional testing so far, we question that they've checked the output files are being passed on to the next stage, and are the right format...

              and no, they haven't checked that at all, but there were no errors generated so it 'passed'. Several months of 'successful' tests all actually failed, because the process fell over before it could generate an exception report that said it hadn't worked. Not a single test case had actually completed but the testers were relying on a part of the code that didn't work, to tell them it wasn't working, instead of testing if it was actually working by looking at the output.

              i frequently ask questions about basic test theory and coverage and get completely blank looks, even when i explain the concepts in case they know it by a different name (testing boundaries etc).

              We don't hire testers at all from what i can tell, just people to write meaningless, impenetrable, test reports that give the illusion of it having been thoroughly tested if anyone asks. One case when i asked about testing not actually touching 95% of the code, i got the simple reply, well you signed off the test plan (high level, practically a statement "we'll test it")

              1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

                Re: QA Prestige

                Yeah, you might want to start looking for another job before your company goes belly up.

        2. veti Silver badge

          Re: QA Prestige

          More than that, because testing is only as good as the documentation that comes with it. Before you can test, you need - something like an actual spec.

          That rules it out for about 30% of all companies right away.

          And the spec needs to be reasonably clear, complete, accurate and up to date. That probably strikes out another 50%.

          Without that documentation, QA is always getting the mushroom treatment.

          Alternatively of course you could just write comprehensive user documentation. (Then tie it to the leg of a passing carrier pig.)

          1. Adelio

            Re: QA Prestige

            I would suggerst it is probably more like 60% to 90% have poor documentation

      2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: QA Prestige

      @JohnFen - A good developer will recognize the need for peer review and professional testing of their code. They catch bugs and make the developer check for and fix issues. Is it annoying at times, yes, because as developer I would rather be writing new code than fixing my or someone else's mistake. In fact I had a situation at work were the tester found a problem that required me to investigate the issue. It is not relevant where the issue was just that it was caught before the code was released.

      Slurp is failing with Bloat because they want to be 'hip' and 'sexy' while OSes are staid and boring. But without an OS how does MS propose for us to use our computers; otherwise they are very expensive paperweights. There is a lot of unglamorous software users depend on everyday and there is money to made if you got your act together. Destroying Bloat destroys Slurp by destroying customer trust. I have permanently banished Bloat 7 to a box that is not connected to the Internet; non of the Bloatware requires a connection. I have no intention of buying any Slurp product as they as shown themselves to be untrustworthy. Chromebook, Mac, Linux box I would consider.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: QA Prestige

        Oh yeah, Linux. Just had the 'pleasure' of setting up a Lubuntu system. Default document editor flickers like crazy, prints half size, automatic security updates are broken and still won't sync with Google Drive.

        I've heard that Apple systems tend to work fairly well when Apple isn't blocking third-party repairs but from my limited experience, I reckon that's more show off Apple users than anything else. P.S. don't try to configure Macs on an enterprise network. Don't Even Think About It.

        1. Fungus Bob Silver badge

          Re: QA Prestige

          "Just had the 'pleasure' of setting up a Lubuntu system..."

          Were you installing it on a TRS80?

          1. Michael Habel Silver badge

            Re: QA Prestige

            No it was a ZX-400 of the Timex make.

        2. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: QA Prestige

          Oh yeah, Linux. Just had the 'pleasure' of setting up a Lubuntu system. Default document editor flickers like crazy, prints half size, automatic security updates are broken and still won't sync with Google Drive.

          Oh yeah, cars. Just had the 'pleasure' of driving a 1980 Trabant. Headlights flicker like crazy, smokes like a chimney, windshield wipers are broken, and it's noisy.

          Yep, guess all cars must be bad then.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: QA Prestige

          > Oh yeah, Linux. Just had the 'pleasure' of setting up a Lubuntu system. Default document editor flickers like crazy, prints half size, automatic security updates are broken and still won't sync with Google Drive.

          I call Bullshit and you are TheVogon.

        4. ShamballaJones

          Re: QA Prestige

          To be frank, the problems you describe are more indicative of a lack of the requisite knowledge on your part than of shortcomings in the OS.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: QA Prestige

        "Is it annoying at times, yes"

        It is -- but when I am annoyed with problems found, I am not annoyed at the tester -- I'm annoyed that we failed to catch the problem before the tester began work.

        "as developer I would rather be writing new code than fixing my or someone else's mistake."

        Over the decades, I've learned that there are many different temperaments in developers. Some devs (such as yourself) love writing new code, designing new approaches to problem-solving, and so forth. Others love the puzzle of digging into malfunctions and resolving them. A great software house has both of these types (and let them each focus on the sort of task they love).

        Personally, I'm a third type: I love producing high-quality software, and don't really prefer either writing new code or fixing broken code. It's all good. Although there is a special sense of accomplishment involved in producing new code that is well-engineered enough that it frustrates the testers in their goal of finding what's broken!

      3. LDS Silver badge
        Facepalm

        "Chromebook, Mac, Linux box I would consider"

        You would consider a Chromebook while calling MS "slurp"? ROTFL!!!!! Where do you believe the idea of all the slurping in Windows 10 comes from? The worst thing Nadella did was turning MS into a a Google wannabe. Not surprisingly, all Google software is in a perpetual "beta" state....

      4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: QA Prestige

        as developer I would rather be writing new good code

        FTFY

  7. JohnFen Silver badge

    Peter Bright

    "This bright new dawn was lauded at the time by Peter Bright at Ars Technica in a piece titled "How Microsoft dragged its development practices into the 21st century"."

    This would be the same Peter Bright who recently wrote that bizarre article talking about how rapid release isn't really the problem with Windows.

    I think that it's safe to say that his judgement is questionable.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Flame

      Re: Peter Bright

      It's not like most of the stuff the IT press puts out is faddish crap meant to fill space.

      On the level of Krugman op-eds in the NYT.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Peter Bright

      File on the same pile as Paul Thurrott.

    3. Rob D.
      Thumb Down

      Re: Peter Bright

      Also safe to say that the Bright article referenced was about Agile generally not so much about testing, didn't make any reference to 'crowd sourced' anything, and doesn't contain the quote somewhat sloppily implied as being attributed to Ars (but is in the ZDNet article, which in context casts the point about laying off testers as a bad thing not as an agreed good point).

      As it happens the Bright article referenced was of its time four years ago i.e. too much jumping on the Agile bandwagon and not enough demonstration of real world experience to appreciate the nuances (so yes, it was/remains a terrible article).

      But the reference in this Ostrowski article to the ancient history in Ars/ZDNet was almost completely inappropriate, and the attributions/quotes were a misrepresentation of the Bright/Foley content anyway. It all came across as petty sniping between hacks without adding any substance to the undeniable issue of the mess Microsoft are making of Windows updates (and patching) with this switch to forced, frequent updates (and using the customer base for testing).

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Peter Bright

        Not sure where the misattribution is, you just need to look for the words "Foley wrote" and "Bright wrote" in the article.

        If you wanted a smoking gun "MS is doing everything right" cheerleading quote, you could try this:

        The integration of testing and QA into part of the regular development process, instead of the old test and stabilization phase, means that the code quality is always decent and always shippable.

        That's why they've just released the operating system equivalent of a car crash.

        The layoffs were even flagged up in that article:

        one victim group appears to have been the dedicated programmatic testers in the Operating Systems Group (OSG), as OSG is following Bing's lead and moving to a combined engineering approach. Prior to these cuts, Testing/QA staff was in some parts of the company outnumbering developers by about two to one. Afterward, the ratio was closer to one to one

        But then absolutely no thought was made to what this meant about the quality of the operating system and, in the context of the whole article, it doesn't really matter because Agile.

        The entire gist was Agile is great, MS can release faster and more often, Devs can somehow do better code if they test it by themselves, QA can somehow test better when they don't have to do automated testing but just "real world" testing (i.e. click and hope for the worst), and the party poopers holding everything up aren't needed as much any more because Agile. Under that methodology, testers got fired because they're less important to the process and we know they got fired because MS announced it.

        Whilst it might work for Bing where they can do fixes in production, it's useless for an operating system where every upgrade means a one-time installation process that irrevocably changes users' data. I bet you could have counted the number of devs who unit tested running just one update scenario with the latest build on the fingers of one hand and QA didn't go through all the possible update scenario combinations because they're only doing "real world" testing which misses a load of stuff because the real world is much bigger than Redmond.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: Peter Bright

          Devs should produce their own test software - and this should run as part of "build / deploy" process

          However, these tests should not be the ONLY automated tests, QA should be involved in adding some.

          If Dev A has misinterpreted / omitted something in the brief then Dev A tests will omit them too and so although the code passes Dev A tests it does not match the brief and should fail proper tests.... Which is why you need QA to add their own independent test suites - some automated. some manual (we have not reached the stage where all tests can be automated yet)

        2. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: Peter Bright

          Devs can somehow do better code if they test it by themselves,

          That one always seemed too ridiculous to be taken seriously.

          If the code generated by x hours of programming require y hours of testing, how is reducing a programmer's hours of x and making him do y for part of his work week instead supposed to help save money? If he's programming a third as much because two thirds of his time is now testing, and so are all the other programmers, then they need three times the programmers they used to have to achieve the same output. It's still the same amount of labor per line of code if that testing is actually being done. The only difference will be that they replaced the relatively cheap testers with programmers for testing duties, and that doesn't save money.

          The entire argument about "test your own code" seems to forget that time is a scarce resource. For the people who actually believe it, of course. It isn't the programmers themselves doing the testing.

          1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

            Devs MUST test

            1) If you are aware of the costs yourself, you are much more likely to avoid mistakes in the first place.

            2) If you write the test before you write the code, you are MUCH more likely to write proper code.

            3) If you write the test before you write the code, you are MUCH less likely to write code with needless functionality (which will break needlessly and inopportunely.)

            Sorry if you haven't learned these things yet, but untested == broken. Far more time is lost sending code back & forth than would be taken by having the devs do TDD.

            The test team should be made up of senior devs whose minds are sufficiently warped to think about the nasty things that should not happen but do.

            1. jglathe

              Re: Devs MUST test

              You need to have an age rating on TDD, though. No programmer with under 10 years of experience should even consider it.

            2. Dan 55 Silver badge

              Re: Devs MUST test

              Nobody's arguing devs shouldn't test their own code or that code should be bounced back and forth between the dev and QA. People are arguing against that devs taking on many of the responsibilities of QA and QA being stripped to the bare minimum. If that happens you might as well test it in production.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Peter Bright

            "The only difference will be that they replaced the relatively cheap testers"

            Pay peanuts and....

    4. J27 Bronze badge

      Re: Peter Bright

      The same can easily be said about this article. The Register is easily the most anti-Microsoft major tech site.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        El Reg is against sloppy software. It's not El Reg's fault that Microsoft is now in that category, nor is it El Reg's fault that all other "major" tech sites are brown-nosers.

        Remember the "Biting the hand . . ." line ? That's what El Reg is for, and Microsoft deserves to be bitten.

        Hard.

        1. Michael Habel Silver badge

          I hope the Vultures don't get an upset tummy after bitting on this carcus.

          RIP Icon is MIA.

      2. Piro

        Re: Peter Bright

        I'd say they stand against broken software, regardless of who's peddling it.

      3. Franco Silver badge

        Re: Peter Bright

        "The Register is easily the most anti-Microsoft major tech site."

        Clearly you have never read The Inquirer.

        El Reg is (IMO) one of the less biased sites, pretty much every major company who deserves a public slapping (which is most of them at one time or another) gets one.

  8. usbac

    "It's entirely possible that the absurd breakneck pace of change we're seeing masks a complete breakdown in Microsoft's ability to produce reliable software," wrote Woody Leonard. "All I know for sure is that Windows is on a vicious downward spiral."

    Two comments:

    1) Did Microsoft ever really produce reliable software? If they did, I don't seem to remember it. And, I've worked in IT for 27+ years.

    2) The "vicious downward spiral" started about 20 years ago.

    I don't think any of these things are a revelation?

    1. Mage Silver badge
      Windows

      re: Windows is on a vicious downward spiral

      Well, yes they always had issues. But after XP & Server 2003, or in parallel, when Vista development started they totally lost it. Too many stupid changes, too much emphasis on cosmetics, FAR FAR too big a team. Auditorium just for the team leaders? When I read that (2004?) I thought, "No-one can manage that size programming effort, certainly not MS."

    2. oiseau Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Hello:

      "Did Microsoft ever really produce reliable software? If they did, I don't seem to remember it. And, I've worked in IT for 27+ years".

      We all know the answer to this so no, it is not a revelation.

      I cannot say that I've actually worked in IT but I've worked with MS software (at home and at my various professional posts) from 1994 on till three or four years ago when I finally decided to drop it and fully enter the Linux world.

      I really have to make an effort to try to recall any long span of time without having some sort of issue with MS software. I recall 3.11 being realtively easy to get around but the most troublesome and hectic was W95. The least troublesome was possibly XPSP3, but that could also be chalked up to accumulated experience.

      Just my $0.02.

    3. fung0

      1) Did Microsoft ever really produce reliable software?

      Yes, all through the 1980s and 1990s, and into the early 2000s. MS-DOS was terrific, and so was Windows 3.0, for its time. Office was always far more reliable than its competitors. Windows NT, starting in the mid-1990s, was a miracle of stability when compared to most anything on the desktop. (OS/2 was damn' good too, even if it turned out to be a blind alley.) Windows 2000 was also brilliant, and XP was almost the same OS, with a consumer facelift. Lots more examples - ambitious, leading-edge software that no other company could have pulled off as well as Microsoft did.

      2) The "vicious downward spiral" started about 20 years ago.

      True. But MS really fell of a cliff about the time Bill Gates found that nobody was reading his memos any more, and left to go and cure diseases.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: "Office was always far more reliable"

        Except when the newer version couldn't read files created with the previous version.

        Or corrupted them when saving.

        1. yoganmahew

          Re: "Office was always far more reliable"

          @Pascal

          True, but for sheer bloody-mindedness, the refusal of o365 apps to move a cursor, respond to a click, or accept typed input through a human interface device takes the biscuit. o365 has to be the worst version of an office application for actual working since, hmmm, DW370...

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: "Office was always far more reliable"

          "Except when the newer version couldn't read files created with the previous version."

          And completely hung the machine to the point of needing a H/W reset or reboot whilst trying to do so.

      2. Louis Schreurs BEng
        FAIL

        MS-DOS was terrific

        Come on !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        BSOD

        1. Alister Silver badge

          Re: MS-DOS was terrific

          Come on !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          BSOD

          WTF? MS-DOS never did BSOD, it was a Windows thing only.

          1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

            Re: MS-DOS was terrific

            That's true. It would just lock silently.

            "I created control-alt-deleted, but I gotta hand it to you--you made it famous!"

          2. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

            Re: MS-DOS was terrific

            MSDOS crashed and spontaneously rebooted, usually due to weird combinations of TSRs, other drivers, and hardware issues such as IRQ conflicts.

            Let's not romance the past. A basic DOS system only reading and writing to a disk and using standard VGA is pretty easy to get working. Problem is, everyone wanted printer drivers, networking, accelerated graphics, in short - a protected memory multitasking operating system.

      3. Dan 55 Silver badge

        I think nostalgia's getting the better of you. Don't remember the joys of MS-DOS configuration, Windows 3.1 and Word blowing up and taking your document with it, Windows 95 crashing when you plugged a USB device in, or XP using much more memory than 2000 for some unfathomable reason (themable GUI?) and driver BSODs? I do.

        In fact, out of the early lot, I'd even dare to say that Windows ME was probably the most reliable for me. I might have had the one computer configuration it worked well on.

        However at least you could control what happened. Windows 10 just updates and takes your work with it and spaffs adverts in your face.

        1. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Windows 95 crashing when you plugged a USB device in,

          Never had that experience! Back then we called it "useless serial bus" because there weren't any devices to plug into it that were readily available. The PCs sold by the outfit I was with didn't have USB ports even though the motherboards did support it, but we only had one person ask for USB in all my time there, and he just wanted the board along with the connector (which we did not have), not a full PC.

          Windows 95, as originally released, didn't even have USB support (OSR 2.1 added it). At the time I'm referring to here, or the start of the time period at least, OSR2 (95 "B" as it was sometimes called) was brand new for OEM distribution.

      4. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        > Yes, all through the 1980s and 1990s, and into the early 2000s. MS-DOS was terrific,

        I always found that DRI operating systems were far better. Early MS-DOS systems would corrupt diskettes if they were swapped. CP/M and DR-DOS would actually check. I used DRI's MP/M and Concurrent-xxx which supported hard drives and pre-emptive multi-tasking and multi-user when MS-DOS still only did floppy disks.

        MS-DOS was always a poor performer which is why most successful software bypassed it for everything except file system to do direct BIOS calls or even bit banging the video cards.

        While MS-DOS 5 was almost up to what DR-DOS 5 did it was 20 months later. DR-DOS 6 then brought better memory management and even task switching while MS-DOS took almost another year to catch up.

        > Windows NT, starting in the mid-1990s, was a miracle of stability when compared to most anything on the desktop.

        Windows NT was certainly more stable than 3.x or 95. 95 had a bug for two years where, if the internal clock overflowed after 39 days and some hours, the system locked up. This was not reported for two years because no one had reached that point.

        > ambitious, leading-edge software that no other company could have pulled off as well as Microsoft

        did.

        Most of which was bought in from other companies, or the company was bought. Even NT was a bought in project that eventually MS had to settle with DEC by paying them a reported $100million.

      5. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        > Office was always far more reliable than its competitors.

        But when it completely screwed up a file this could be recovered by using LibreOffice.

      6. Jakester

        No, Windows 3.0 was not terrific. On a computer with Windows 3.0, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel (forgot what the version was), would get sever unrecoverable application errors daily, causing a loss of data and a reboot. Win 3.1 was much better. NT was the first Microsoft OS that wasn't a toy operating system and had any level of security built into it.

    4. Tony Paulazzo

      1) Did Microsoft ever really produce reliable software? If they did, I don't seem to remember it. And, I've worked in IT for 27+ years.

      Been here since Windows 3.1 and I do not recall an update ever deleting my files from my computer. I would call that a catastrophic evolution of unreliability. IMHO. And yes, everyone should have backups, but they don't - one job I had was to rescue wedding photo's off a dead laptop because they had no hard copies or thought to save elsewhere.

      Even a non booting update can just have Windows reinstalled, a pain but everything is still there.

    5. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

      DOS was mostly reliable, although DOS 4.01 used too much memory, and the shell was useless. That's 'reliable provided you only want to run one program without TSRs', obviously. The problem was that most people did want to add networking and other devices, and then there was insufficient memory left over to run your app.. I don't miss those days, although installing DOS on a modern system is far less painful due to the availability of packet drivers and CD/mouse/peripheral drivers that use minimal amounts of memory.

      Otherwise, NT 3.51 was really solid. I'm trying to remember which version of NT had a disk corruption bug on release that was fixed *very* quickly with a service pack, and think it was 4.0 - but I might be wrong.

      2000 was pretty decent too, solid, added USB, and modern DirectX was useful (if not for servers).

      To be fair to Microsoft, they've mostly fixed Windows over time. NT4 was great after SP3. XP was great after SP2. Vista wasn't perfect, but SP2 fixed a lot. W7 was fine after SP1. Can't remember about 8. 10 has been a bit annoying at work but mostly alright, hibernation issues were fixed in Fall Creators Update. At home the sodding thing claims my graphics cards are broken - they work fine under 8, provided I don't update NVidia drivers beyond a certain release.

      The problem here is that 10 isn't given the chance to bed down. For operating systems with a huge amount of backwards compatibility such as this, I'm not in favour of regular updates.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        10 has been a bit annoying at work but mostly alright,

        The problem with 10 is more that each different build has had its own quirks and things that either don't work properly or only with workarounds specific to that build. The complexity of looking after more than a couple of builds at once adds up.

        Plus, each build is a mixture of things fixed over the previous one, and new problems introduced. You can't get a version that doesn't have some broken or poorly tested parts. Even LTSB/LTSC, which MS are going to great lengths to discourage people from using.

    6. JohnFen Silver badge

      "Did Microsoft ever really produce reliable software?"

      No, they didn't, but after release they had the time to clean up most of their mess so if you just waited long enough, you could get reasonably reliable software from them. Now that they're doing rapid release, there is no time for them to clean up their mess, and you can no longer get reasonably reliable software from them.

      So, in short, they went from "not great" to "terrible".

  9. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    "Quality" is a structural attribute, not a bolt-on

    Therefore prodding a "black box" after creation and each iteration is not going to be effective in converging to a satisfactory product.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      Re: "Quality" is a structural attribute, not a bolt-on

      I think we all know the cant of the Agile Brigade.

      You still need QA at the far end.

      And the OS-y you product is, the less relevant the Agile Part of your product developement strategy.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: "Quality" is a structural attribute, not a bolt-on

        And the OS-y you product is, the less relevant the Agile Part of your product developement strategy.

        Absolutely. Also if a piece of software is your business system, you certainly don't want to be mucking about with that. Change has to be done very carefully.

        I'm sure that's why you see in airlines, retailers, etc a lot of text mode software that originally ran on 3270 terminals. It's there, it does its job, it never goes wrong. If it does break the business is dead in days at most.

        Not a place for agile development.

        Agile, if done properly, is just another way of discovering what someone's requirements are. However it is often abused as a way of taking short cuts in development. Shortcuts lead to failure.

      2. Adam 1 Silver badge

        Re: "Quality" is a structural attribute, not a bolt-on

        I'm going to disagree with you on that. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with agile development. It does not permit untested work. TDD (which if you're doing agile correctly is kinda mandatory) means that you should have your tests written before you start copy pasting from stackoverflowwriting code. If you are doing things properly, you are getting input from QA before you design the tests in the first place. It was never about removing QA from the process. Everything about it is to remove the distance between the subject matter expert and the code monkey so that misunderstandings can be discovered and rectified much sooner.

        Of course, you are probably thinking about that other definition of agile favoured by PHBs the world over, where any form of analysis is disregarded because agile, any form of planning ahead can be forgotten because agile, and any form of QA can be ignored because we once showed the devs how to install nunit. That is of course bollocks.

        Quality is derived from culture. You need a culture that is ashamed of breaking things, ashamed when their test case design fails to detect a breaking change, is proud about coverage (real, not by fooling the tools), hates when something slips through to QA and really hates when a customer suffers a bug.

        Companies that only value story point velocity, that don't invest in reducing technical debt inevitably find themselves producing code which is a quick hack around some work around ona half designed proof of concept which resists even basic enhancements, which then hurts the velocity, so no time for paying back that technical debt and the QA cycle needs to be cut to make deadline. Sigh, I guess some people cannot learn.

        1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

          Re: "Quality" is a structural attribute, not a bolt-on

          You're not wrong, but the problem is definition vs usage.

          It's like 'loose' and 'lose' or 'less' and 'fewer' in English. There are differences, they are defined, but if people continually use the words incorrectly they become accepted usage.

          Continual abuse of the Agile philosophy is making it toxic. As the unit tests are generally written by developers, there's far too much scope for taking shortcuts. At least a more classical development model formalises a specification and testing. Yes, it still frequently goes awry, but if the specification is incomplete it's obvious, and if the QA are reduced, there's no 'agile' excuse to hide behind.

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Meh

            Re: "Quality" is a structural attribute, not a bolt-on

            "As the unit tests are generally written by developers"

            about that. 'unit tests' aren't necessary in the majority of cases, especially when they're TRIVIAL. If the system is properly designed, i.e. broken into functional unjits correctly, you can test the overall functionality of the whole on a known dataset. This also means properly writing the thing in the FIRST place, to avoid all of the usual problems (memory leaks, buffer overruns, mishandled erroneous data, use-after-free pointers, etc.).

            In other words, "unit test" for every trivial freaking thing is what JUNIOR coders do, because they can't see past their own noses and look at the BIG picture.

            (as for making up some kind of test data to verify an algorithm, that's not the same... you use that to WRITE the algorithm, and once done, you NEVER! HAVE! TO! TEST! IT! AGAIN!!!)

            1. doublelayer Silver badge

              Re: "Quality" is a structural attribute, not a bolt-on

              I can see your point with agile, but I'd disagree about companies using old code. History shows us that this code wasn't necessarily (and wasn't in practice for most cases) written and tested as thoroughly as possible using wonderful coding practices that we've sadly lost. The code that's still running is probably quite solid given the decades of testing in the field that it has received, but otherwise it's code that can fail as much as any other code. Companies still use it because they have a fear of doing something differently and because why spend money on making the code fast, modern, and perhaps more full-featured when you can not spend that money and instead spend it on the people keeping old hardware and virtualized old hardware functioning?

              If they had to change their business practice and modify their software, the changes are much more likely to be written, tested, and put into operation quickly if the codebase is modern. With an old coding system, you need developers familiar with it (fewer people) and ideally people not only familiar in the sense of "I worked on this in the 80's and 90's" but also in the sense of "I can still remember off the top of my head what that hex error code means". Meanwhile, a modern codebase can run on a lot more stuff and can be repaired should it break without needing specialist knowledge.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: "Quality" is a structural attribute, not a bolt-on

                "changes are much more likely to be written, tested, and put into operation quickly if the codebase is modern."

                Define modern. This sounds very much like the usual rant about having to periodically update legacy S/W i.e. the stuff that's earning the business's income.

                And you shouldn't need to remember what that HEX code meant because there should be documentation, preferably as an old-fashioned comment in the source, to tell you what it means.

                1. doublelayer Silver badge

                  Re: "Quality" is a structural attribute, not a bolt-on

                  Me: "changes are much more likely to be written, tested, and put into operation quickly if the codebase is modern."

                  Response: "Define modern. This sounds very much like the usual rant about having to periodically update legacy S/W i.e. the stuff that's earning the business's income."

                  Modern refers to the original comment about businesses continuing to run code written in the 1980s because, as the comment claimed, that software was just written really well then so they have no problems. Not only do I not believe the software was just wonderful then, as it probably had plenty of bugs that had to be removed from it back then, but it is difficult to change. Code written in the 1980s will still run, but only on legacy hardware or operating systems which imposes another cost on the business. If you need to update how the software works, your options are:

                  1. The codebase was written in the 1980s in a 1980s language. In order to modify it, you need people familiar with that language. This is not a ton of people. Many of the people who are familiar with it, looking for a job, and willing to work for you have been writing in different things. I know, for example, a person who wrote assembly for various Cray supercomputers. I don't think he would know how to do that now, though he'd be faster to relearn it than would I.

                  2. The code is written in a modern language. This may be painful to port from the original code, but it is now easier for it to be modified. You still have to hire good programmers, and you shouldn't do it as cheaply as possible because you'll end up with terrible bugs. However, when you need something updated, it's much easier to find a competent person if the language is more modern. If I found a bug that needed to be fixed quickly, I'd much rather the code be written in C, Python, Java, or most other modern languages than Cobol, because I know I can find someone to write in those languages. I don't know how to find a competent Cobol person, let alone assembly for $random_processor_from_three_decades_ago.

                  Therefore, I would disagree with the assertion that companies should continue running old code because people just don't write how they used to. I think that's a dangerous course of action most of the time, and although many modern companies forget important testing practices and the like, there are others that still produce reliable code.

            2. Claptrap314 Silver badge

              Re: "Quality" is a structural attribute, not a bolt-on

              Devs properly trained in TDD produce working code faster than without. You don't unit test constants, nor java setters & getters. You do write a test before you implement a branch in code execution.

              For simply algorithms, yes, it is possible to create a golden dataset, and when the code passes it, it passes. Oh, wait. That's a different form of TDD!

              But for complicated algorithms (and we are all guilty), state explosion makes this impossible. Worse, unless you have an advanced degree in mathematics, or a first-class undergraduate degree, you're going to miss things when you write tests before or after. (If you do, you are still going to miss things, but your training will keep you going back enough that your chance of committing bad code goes way, way down.)

            3. RyokuMas Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: "Quality" is a structural attribute, not a bolt-on

              "you use that to WRITE the algorithm, and once done, you NEVER! HAVE! TO! TEST! IT! AGAIN!!!

              ... until your business requirements change and you have to modify said algorithm so that it returns a different results set under circumstances x, y and z, but otherwise must return exactly the same data as it has been doing until now.

              That is the value of full and proper unit test coverage - it's not about making sure your code works right now, but ensuring that it continues to work as expected after modification. Otherwise, the chances are you're just playing whack-a-mole with bugs.

              The idea that "just writing it right in the first place" is an archaic throw-back to the pre-internet era when systems were monolithic and updated once in a blue moon by a single big-bang operation. Businesses now expect new functionality to be delivered rapidly and seamlessly, and as developers, we have to adapt or die.

              The irony is that until a few years ago, I used to think along the same lines - "what's the point of unit tests? I've manually tested my code and it works!" But now, when faced with modifying a chunk of code that was written a year ago by someone who is no longer with the company, finding a good suite of unit tests that document how it's supposed to work and catch what I might accidentally break is not only reassuring, but also vastly increases the speed I can work at.

        2. bazza Silver badge

          Re: "Quality" is a structural attribute, not a bolt-on

          @Adam 1,

          Oh, Agile if done properly is fine, but it rarely is. The money men don't see the value of rigour regardless of whereabouts in a programme it crops up. Agile too readily gives them an excuse for dispensing with rigour altogether.

          Also one of the tenets of Agile seems to be to embrace failure, let it happen, deal with it when it occurs. That might be fine for a Web IM service, where a day or so offline won't matter, but not elsewhere.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I think it's worth remembering ...

    that history is littered with companies that seemed so big they'd always be there.

    TWA and Pan-Am to name two (because Arthur C Clarke thought Pan-Am would still be around in 2001).

    In the UK, GEC might stirs some memories .....

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: I think it's worth remembering ...

      "n the UK, GEC might stirs some memories"

      As does Ferranti and a few more.

      Is it possible that rather than businesses becoming too big to fail they actually become too big to not fail?

      1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: I think it's worth remembering ...

        And what was the other company that evaporated years ago? I can't remember it's name but we all said that the initials stood for "It Can't Last" ...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I think it's worth remembering ...

          International Computers Limited

          1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

            Re: I think it's worth remembering ...

            > International Computers Limited

            I worked for them here is New Zealand and on projects in Bracknell for a couple of decades. In fact I joined ICT shortly before they changed to being part of ICL.

            I still have quite a number of ICL machines in my stack from ICL 1501s (not to be confused with ICT 1500s), PC1, PC2 (8085 and 8086), Quattro, Quattro XM, DRS20 model 40 and 150, DRS300. 6402, 6404, 6404L, 303.

            Available by collection only.

    2. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: I think it's worth remembering ...

      AC - There have been many companies disappear because of major mismanagement. The list is long and there is nothing to say Slurp and other mismanaged IT firms wont join it in the future. A few (non-IT) I remember are RCA (trademark lives, the company is gone), McDonnell-Douglas (gulped down by Boeing), Radio Shack, Toys-R-Us, Pennsylvania Railroad, New York Central Railroad.

    3. fung0

      Re: I think it's worth remembering ...

      IBM, which was once (believe it or not) synonymous with desktop computing. Borland, Ashton-Tate, Lotus. Netscape. Compaq. Novell. Digital Research.

      In the 1990s, MS could never have been as stupid as it has been lately, without being instantly devoured by smarter competitors.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Re: "In the 1990s, MS could never have been as stupid . . "

        That is probably a significant part of the issue. Everyone remembers an MS that was lean and executed rather well. Not everyone realizes that when MS was a lean, mean fighting machine, it's because there was competition.

        Where does MS have competition in the OS space now ? Nowhere. Ergo, no need to pay attention, got fat, got sloppy, got childish. Is now more interested in bling than functionalty.

        And what can we do about it ? Zilch. Nobody is going to migrate to Linux because that is a functional nightmare for a company of just about any size.

        So we bend over and take it, and MS knows we will.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "In the 1990s, MS could never have been as stupid . . "

          Everyone remembers an MS that was lean and executed rather well. Not everyone realizes that when MS was a lean, mean fighting machine, it's because there was competition.

          It appears that when I age, my memory seems to erode too. In the 30+ years I had the displeasure of having to deal with Microsoft products because corporate idiots keep buying it, I have never come across anything in MS that was lean and worked well. If there is anything that has been part of the MS culture from the days of W95 onwards it is bloat. IBM and Borland both recompiled Windows code into something that was more compact and executed so much significantly faster that Microsoft had to grab for the compatibility excuse to rescue itself.

          No, lean I would not attribute to Microsoft, ever.

        2. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: "In the 1990s, MS could never have been as stupid . . "

          " Everyone remembers an MS that was lean and executed rather well."

          Yes, that was back in the early DOS era. After that, not so much.

        3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

          Re: "In the 1990s, MS could never have been as stupid . . "

          > Nobody is going to migrate to Linux because that is a functional nightmare for a company of just about any size.

          And yet Linux is the basis of the most common OS found anywhere (Android) has 99+% of the top supercomputers and has more than 50% of the servers, and dominates embedded systems.

          Most companies are already using it.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: "In the 1990s, MS could never have been as stupid . . "

            "And yet Linux is the basis of the most common OS found anywhere..."

            EXCEPT at the desktop due to all the legacy baggage and the need for performance.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: "In the 1990s, MS could never have been as stupid . . "

              Thumbing me down doesn't make it less true; otherwise, why isn't the Linux Steam library nearly as big as the Windows one, despite advances in DXVK and the like?

  11. ma1010 Silver badge

    But will they listen?

    This article is right on, I think. MS really has screwed the pooch. I'd actually like to be able to use Win 10 eventually (for gaming if nothing else), but don't dare as it's too much of a dog's breakfast. Maybe someday they'll get leadership who has a clue. As another poster said, just releasing a service pack for Win 7 would be a big step forward from where they are now.

    Meanwhile, SatNad is doing his best to make come true that ever-receding Year of the Linux Desktop.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: But will they listen?

      "Meanwhile, SatNad is doing his best to make come true that ever-receding Year of the Linux Desktop."

      I wonder if MS have looked at the way various Linux distros work and not quite understood what they've seen.

      The Fast, Slow, Release stuff looks a bit like Debian's Unstable, Testing and Release and the 6 month schedule looks a bit like Fedora. What they haven't grasped is that the cadence of Debian's system is a few years, not 6 months and the 6 monthly Fedora releases feed stuff into the money system, Red Hat, when things are good and ready.

      What's more these are distros. Their development is integration of components that have already gone through their own development in a myriad of other projects.

      Everyone in software development should occasionally go back and reread chapter 1 of TMMM and reflect on the difference between a raw component and the finished article. I wrote "reread"; probably too many have never even read it once.

      1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

        Re: But will they listen?

        @Doctor Syntax - "I wonder if MS have looked at the way various Linux distros work and not quite understood what they've seen.", I have to agree. What I see with Linux distros is there is a core such as the kernel where each component is developed at its own schedule. Combined with the relative independence of each component (X could be replaced by something else, desktops are replaceable, browsers are OS independent, etc.) means a the distro developer is not really develop a large amount of code. This has some nice benefits for Linux in that the pieces are more modular with much fewer cross dependencies and what each distro brings to the table is geared to a more specific audience. To replicate this by Slurp would require effectively break Bloat into independent pieces with each piece having its own development path.

        You noted that Fedora is geared to help Red Hat develop features for the 'money system'. However Fedora releases are quite polished and ready to use. Ubuntu might be a closer comparison to Bloat. The flagship release is the 'money system'. Ubuntu does something different than Slurp, they have LTS versions intended for the general user and supported for 5 years. The intermediate releases, again while polished, are more to develop features for the LTS versions. But both Red Hat and Ubuntu recognize that some features may need to incubate longer before being ready for the masses.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: But will they listen?

          "However Fedora releases are quite polished and ready to use."

          Maybe now. It wasn't how I viewed it back when I used it.

        2. tygrus.au

          Re: But will they listen?

          The software for Linux tries to minimise changes to the software interfaces so that if software "A v2.0" is said to work with software "B v3.x" then both try to keep backward compatibility until they bring out "A v3.0" and "B v4.0".

          1) You can change the internal functions but you can't change the existing interface (the command names or outputs seen by other programs/users).

          2) You can add new features but don't break or remove old features (first do no harm).

          3) If you want to make major changes then you fork the code tree into a new major version release.

          Because the software interface doesn't change then other software that relies on it doesn't break unintentionally.

          The problem with Microsoft is that they break all 3 rules listed above. Microsoft remove and half replace features with no care. Microsoft products often have more features broken than fixed each release. They rip out the old GUI dialog and then have this new "user-friendly" process that requires more clicks or has half the functions because it was left unfinished before release. There are too many dependencies where different MS products/components can break each other. Instead of making new 64bit versions of the OS components with new names, they: repurposed the old names; renamed 32bit components so 32bit compatibility was not certain; and made a headache for everyone (only new 64bit SW should have required recompile instead they made 32bit need new installers).

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      Re: But will they listen?

      Meanwhile, SatNad is doing his best to make come true that ever-receding Year of the Linux Desktop.

      So he's doing his best to ensure 'Year of the Linux Desktop' remains something yet to be achieved???

      Isn't that a good thing (from Microsofts perspective)???

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Software Testers

    Microsoft would have fewer problems go out the door if they read the feedback they're getting from insiders. They maybe have some system where they read reports if 10 people flag it, but it could well be the odd uncorroborated report that canaries a subtle issue

    1. hitmouse

      Re: Software Testers

      Agreed. There are issues which the Insiders flagged in volume from early releases which nonetheless ignored.

      Most US software companies do a terrible job of testing non-US English language installs - developers and testers assume that US settings for keyboard, dates etc will apply for all English locales, when in fact it tends to be unique amongst the 15 or so in place)

      Microsoft has historically been "least worst" in this respect, but has really gone backwards in respect of these settings for example, years of Windows 10 updates resetting English US for all users in UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Hong Kong, .... Office 365 barely pretends to respect non-US settings. It's not yet Google-bad or Facebook-bad, but it's headed in that direction. These companies do not encourage testers outside the US, so feedback is not heard.

      A properly managed test team CAN make up for deficiencies in these areas, but if management has a mindset that doesn't allow it to cover "unknown unknowns" then it's started ceding the market to other players.

    2. DryBones

      Re: Software Testers

      Wrote a diatribe, WiFi bounce lost it, rage. Short version then.

      MS managed to do worse than just spinning up their own JIRA instance and packaging a browser session to it as a UWP. They deserve all the scorn they get and most of what they don't.

      If Insiders are so valued, where are the severity, frequency, criticality, and impact selectors? They set themselves up for failure.

  13. TaabuTheCat

    Patching has been a shitshow for months

    I'm glad to see the semi-annual release has finally caught up with the Patch Tuesday fiasco that's been going on for the last six months.

    And don't even get me started on the cumulative update deltas that totally break CBS from month to month. What the actual fuck have these guys been smoking?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not listening

    I totally agree with Andrew's comments, but do not believe Microsoft will listen to the swelling chorus of complaints about the problems they have caused, let alone do anything to really fix the underlying causes of those problems.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Not listening

      I think that they are listening, they are just waiting the chance to offer everyone the new update ... once W10 is bad enough everyone will leap at the chance to get the new release.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: Not listening

        once W10 is bad enough everyone will leap at the chance to get the new release.

        That's in their wildest dreams. I think reality is about to bite them in the ass in the not too distant future. The problem is that they destroyed the competition back a few decades ago, so who would replace them. I don't see Linux as it's too fragmented by too many distros at this point.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Not listening

          The problem is that they destroyed the competition back a few decades ago, so who would replace them. I don't see Linux as it's too fragmented by too many distros at this point.

          I don't think they are sitting on their hands though.

          Few weeks ago out of the blue we got a call from a company designing infrastructure around RedHat with a question whether we would be interested in their offer.

        2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Not listening

          "I don't see Linux as it's too fragmented by too many distros at this point."

          There are relatively few that matter and even then they have their particular niches.

          If you want something to put on your rellies' PCs when you get fed up with digging them out of their malware pit it's likely to be Mint or Zorin.

          If you want something for your own desktop or server to do serious work and don't want to spend time tending to the latest shiny it's likely to be Debian or Devuan depending on your take on systemd ditto with paid support OpenSuSE or Red Hat (maybe a few Red Hats for the support and a stack of CentOS for most users).

  15. cornetman Bronze badge

    What happened to the hardware abstraction layer that gets out of the way of running programs?

    That's what an OS is right?

    What could Microsoft possibly be doing that is creating so much chaos?

    1. theOtherJT

      RE: What happened to the hardware abstraction layer that gets out of the way of running programs?

      Microsoft saw what happened to the ISP's, from whom what we all really want is a dumb-pipe service where we can pull data and they get out of our way. It's a race to the bottom and there's no money there.

      Look at all the advertising there is scattered throughout the Windows ecosystem now. Look at all the various licences and subscriptions. Microsoft know full well that if all they do is sell you a piece of software - once - that you install - once - and then it goes into the background and you don't even know that it's there... that is _not_ the way to maximize profit, indeed, it could be enough to see them fade into irrelevance.

      They know they have to be all up in everyone's face to stay relevant... the problem is that they don't know how to do that in any other way than "Run around changing things like crazy so people keep paying attention" The message "There's no such thing as bad publicity" seems to have taken hold, and much to their detriment.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: RE: What happened to the hardware abstraction layer...

        IOW, there's no business like repeat business, but changing over to a SaaS, subscription, or other repeat-business model is tough to do in a market used to one-and-dones.

        As for the hardware abstraction layer, that's a potential pitfall as well if people think your HAL is the balls (recall what happened so often with the old BIOS--so pathetic that coders worked around it and went straight to the metal).

  16. usbac

    Well... everyone wish me luck with the big lottery tonight. I told my wife that if we win, I'm giving $10 million to the React OS guys (she looked at me like I was from Mars). Maybe even more if it looked like they would actually finish the thing.

    I would even fund an open source replacement for Outlook. For us, that's the one app I would have huge problems with prying from people's hands. I think it's the case for most enterprises. I could replace Word/Excel with Open Office or Libre Office, but Outlook is where I would get the most resistance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: outlook

      100% accurate - it's the only reason that we have Office on the machines.

    2. J. Cook Silver badge

      Replace outlook!

      Along with Exchange, although I know there's at least one or two 3rd party apps that might give it a valid run for the money.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: Replace outlook!

        Thunderbird is a perfect replacement for Outlook and I've been able to convince quite some people already.

        1. JimmyPage Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: Replace outlook!

          Thunderbird is shit - I've had to switch to Evolution.

          Sorry, but T-Bird seems to struggle with odd little things - the Lightning extension for calendars in particular.

          There is - and always has been - a Linux-shaped hole in the desktop OS space, just ready for the first company to actually seriously build a looks-like-Windows, acts-like-Windows distro. But for some reason (which suggests the free market is shit) they simply haven't.

          Part of the problem is the Linux' desktop strengths - diversity of apps, customisable beyond belief to name two - are actually what scares the horses. Imagine trying to deliver a Linux desktop in a non-trivial (>20) user space.

          If someone could come up with a straightforward Linux desktop, with a settled GUI, and a Windows approach to installation and operation, and a bombproof email/calendar program (not "app") that could connect to Exchange if needed, and that could run click-for-click versions of Word/Excel/Powerpoint, then you'd probably be able to put it on 80% of the corporate desktops and few would notice.

          The fact that no one seems to have worked that out yet - and been willing to back it with cash - suggests it's not something that interests the Linux community.

          The closest we've probably got is Mint. Which still needs some techie smarts to get around. Even then we hit snags like the Evolution calendar widget (which provides an Outlook feature) won't work on Cinnamon. (Guess what the default Window Manager is ?). True, you can switch to GNOME to have a working widget. At which point you've proved the Windows fanbois point.

          All of that said, it's curious that when it comes to computers, an awful lot of megacorps really have backed a single horse, which means they are incredibly vulnerable to any flaws in that landscape. Surely for the sake of resilience, there should be a driver to run different desktops ?

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Replace outlook!

            You forget one other problem: an OS is nothing without applications, and while you cite possible replacements for Office programs, don't forget the existing ecosystem of custom linchpin software that can't be ported (dev no longer exists) OR replaced (custom job paid up front that's probably still being amortized), and nine times out of ten they use some quirky thing that makes emulation a non-starter. So basically, they're at the end of the rope with nothing below them, which means all they can do is hang on for dear life.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Replace outlook!

              You forget one other problem: an OS is nothing without applications, and while you cite possible replacements for Office programs, don't forget the existing ecosystem of custom linchpin software that can't be ported...

              Yep. Plus, the replacements for Office are often just replacements for basic Word and Excel stuff. Custom add-ins to link into your document management system make moving a bit trickier. Outlook has been mentioned, but Access is also a huge issue that is not typically addressed. There's a lot of database front-ends written in Access, even if the back-end is SQL of some flavour. Often very non-trivial to replace.

              1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: Replace outlook!

                "Access is also a huge issue that is not typically addressed"

                There's a line of argument that says losing that would be one of the gains of switching from Office.

                1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                  Re: Replace outlook!

                  "There's a line of argument that says losing that would be one of the gains of switching from Office."

                  Which is quickly countered by having Access-specific stuff being critical to their operations, meaning without a ready-to-go alternative already at hand, they can't move without shutting down and potentially ceasing as a going concern.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: Replace outlook!

              "custom job paid up front that's probably still being amortized"

              If you've paid up-front for a custom job and don't have the source you're doing it wrong.

          2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Replace outlook!

            "acts-like-Windows distro"

            What? Slowly applies breaking updates at its own volition? Nope.

            "a Windows approach to installation and operation"

            Again, nope.

          3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: Replace outlook!

            "Imagine trying to deliver a Linux desktop in a non-trivial (>20) user space."

            What do you do with Windows in the equivalent user space? You have a standard image that gets installed on all the PCs. Isn't that a clue to how to deploy Linux?

    3. tiggity Silver badge

      usbac

      Much as I would like to write you an outlook clone, I don't think I could bring myself to write amail app that was not standards compliant, coped badly with hiberntion / other network connectivity "drops", far too single threaded in many areas, massively resource hungry etc., etc.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        There's your problem. Do you write what they want or what they really need but swear they don't want? And in either case, is there a chance you won't get paid/get demanded a refund for unfit-for-purpose?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One good thing's come of the Windows 10 crapfest, I discovered that Linux is finally at a place where it 'just works' and is a usable, fast, effective complete substitute for Windows.

    1. jglathe
      Windows

      ...or MacOS

      Dallying with both for testing purposes, or to be more precise, non-work work. Both are useable, MacOS is nicer and a bit stranger, but you can get used to it. The hardware is a bit like technology from the future. Amazing what you can get out of an i5 with these drivers and GUI. And most of it without even starting the fan on the 'book. Fascinating. Weird keyboard, though.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: ...or MacOS

        "MacOS is nicer and a bit stranger, but you can get used to it"

        Honestly, I've never been able to get used to it. Pretty much everything about MacOS/OSX is counterintuitive to me. However, that doesn't mean it's a bad OS, it just means that the OS is not compatible with my brain.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: ...or MacOS

          Every time I try to use an Apple computer the thing crashes on me. I get a lot of jokes about it. The weird part of it all is that NeXT machines and I got along great.

        2. Updraft102 Silver badge

          Re: ...or MacOS

          However, that doesn't mean it's a bad OS, it just means that the OS is not compatible with my brain.

          It could be argued that being compatible with your brain would be one of the basic requirements of a good OS. An OS that is highly configurable would be compatible with a lot of brains, but as I understand, this is not Apple's way. Apple's way is to tell you you're holding it wrong.

          1. JohnFen Silver badge

            Re: ...or MacOS

            "It could be argued that being compatible with your brain would be one of the basic requirements of a good OS."

            I hear what you're saying, but I suppose that how true that is depends on what the goal of the OS is. That I find Apple OSes difficult to use (despite having done a fair bit of application development on them) may be a personal problem, so I'm hesitant to slag them just because of that.

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: ...or MacOS

          "it just means that the OS is not compatible with my brain"

          More likely it's not compatible with your learned habits.

      2. J27 Bronze badge

        Re: ...or MacOS

        Mac OS also ties you down to very limited hardware that quite often has major issues that you can't fix because the parts are restricted. It's not a good replacement for Windows, and not only that, almost everyone who owns a Mac was Windows installed anyway! Linux is pretty much the only viable alternative OS.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: "Linux is pretty much the only viable alternative OS"

          Linux certainly is, at the OS level. I am certain that, in time, Linux will be the Enterprise OS of choice.

          But at the application software level, Linux is woefully undersupplied. LibreOffice works fine for me, but Calc doesn't have the polish of Excel's formatted tables, or the fun but useful things like Sparklines, not to mention that its charts are somewhat disappointing and lack every formatting option Excel charts have.

          Writer is not much more evolved, has no themes, no header formatting, is basically Word circa 1998, albeit a bit more efficient and faster.

          For the rest, a company migrating from a Windows environment will have a devil of a time getting apps in Linux that can compare with the ones they use in Windows.

          So no, Linux is not actually an alternative and won't be until those gaps are filled.

      3. Domquark

        Re: ...or MacOS

        "The hardware is a bit like technology from the future"

        Only on the outside. The inside is just the same as any Windows PC. OK, so the iMac's do tend to utilise components more normally found in servers. But you can take an iMac and load Windows (or Linux) and it'll run quite happily. You can take OSX and load it onto a PC.

    2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

      At CodySydney, re: Linux suitability.

      I wish I could have upvoted you, I'd really love to be using Linux right now, but the screen readers for Linux are still woefully lacking. I've tried to buy computers from the Vinux Project, System76, & ThinkPenguin, all to no avail. Until accessibility on Linux is a drop in replacement for that on Windows, folks like me *can't* switch over yet.

      If I could see to make the switch then you would certainly get my upvote, I would have switched right around the WinXP EOL hit & never looked back.

      Join me at the pub & I'll buy you a pint. You can toast your Linux experience, I'll drown my sorrows in mine. *Clinks tankard* Cheers.

    3. jMcPhee

      Yeah - just did a new i5-7500 build. For the first time in 32 years, my PC has no MS product installed. What should I do with all the extra time I used to spend cleaning up MS screw ups?

      As an aside, the most functional, reliable MS product I ever used was Commodore Basic. Who would have guessed...

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        "Yeah - just did a new i5-7500 build. For the first time in 32 years, my PC has no MS product installed. What should I do with all the extra time I used to spend cleaning up MS screw ups?"

        Looking for the replacements for the Windows programs you were using but didn't realize it and making sure your system is actually running at top performance (given the known Linux graphic issues, especially if you have to use nonfree driver blobs, this isn't a gimme).

  18. Mage Silver badge
    Flame

    Plan B

    Persuade all the key Enterprise / Commercial / Business SW sellers to port to OS X *AND* Linux. Not just Red Hat either.

    That's a better solution than funding React OS, because MS will need to listen to Business and essentially have Win98/Win2K/XP/Win7 GUI and concentrate on coherent control centre, admin tools, functionality, bug fixes etc instead of Fashion, Cloud, Tablets & Phones.

    We don't need anything "new" in Windows, we just need it to work. Fix the things people have complained about for 15 years. Don't copy Android, ChromeOS, or even OSX.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " *AND* Linux. Not just Red Hat either."

      Too many distros and too many subtle differences across them. Plus, ugly and limited widget sets for the GUIs, compared to macOS and Windows. Linux is a system still very unfriendly for GUI applications, and also it lacks good development tools for them.

      Linux really needs a complete, well designed GUI system and libraries, managed like the kernel. X is too limited, and you can't let the interface elements do be developed by KDE or Gnome for their desktops - also being forced often to use libraries designed to be cross-platforms means less perfomant and uglier GUIs. Qt, wxWidgets & C. are not adequate.

      Bad ugly fonts because they need to be "free" is also a big issue. License good fonts. If the graphic cards needs closed source drivers, support them - users want great graphic performance, only a subset (the 4% actual users, probably), has its heads stubbornly buried into the "free" sand. Many companies won't give their IP away, learn to live with it.

      GUI uniformity across application and across systems, plus performance, is very important for users. It's what the loot at and feel as soon as they start to use an application. Otherwise even the uglier GUI of Windows 10 will look better and faster.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: " *AND* Linux. Not just Red Hat either."

        @AC above:

        I work in an environment with mixed Linux and Windows desktops. We deployed a cross-platform GUI app that was pretty core to the business function. Even the most illiterate of users flocked to the Linux version because 'the fonts look way better' and 'it looks much nicer' and I almost had a mutiny on my hands when the vendor skipped the Linux build for one of their updates (they got that fixed pronto). In both cases it was using (or at least looked like it did) the OS native UI toolkits (Win32 and GTK). Even had me surprised.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: " *AND* Linux. Not just Red Hat either."

        "Linux really needs a complete, well designed GUI system and libraries, managed like the kernel"

        I thought that was the goal of Ubuntu.

        I like the idea of there being a distro to meet that need. I would hate it if that meant that the other distros had to be the same way, though.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge
        IT Angle

        Re: " *AND* Linux. Not just Red Hat either."

        "ugly and limited widget sets for the GUIs"

        Amen. I think it's because they're trying to ape the MacOS & Windows. There's an oversupply of W7-like decoration themes for KDE. With a bit of effort I have a nice, clean-looking set-up which looks very much like what W2K could have evolved into.

  19. Mage Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    Win 10 issues

    Common problem is the app style programs simply not starting. Including Anti-malware update, Windows update and PC Settings! Since the last time you shut down!

    MS official Solutions:

    1: Use Admin command line to add a new admin user (because they removed creating new local users from control panel). Try whatever didn't start as new user.

    OR

    2: Use Power shell to reinstall all apps

    OR

    3: Reinstall all your apps from the Store (won't fix other users).

    OR

    4: Recommended solution: Download the win10 ISO and do a complete restore. It should let you keep your data.

    WUT!

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lean and Agile?

    If there’s one thing I’ve learned from talking to outfits who do Agile well, it’s that they have a ratio of test engineer* to software engineer I can only dream of.

    * Some them even understand the not terribly subtle distinction between QA and testing.

  21. Jason Hindle

    I like Windows 10

    And, as I believe I’ve written here before, every time I start to think my current Mac might be my last*, Microsoft goes and does something monumentally stupid.

    * And let’s face it, Apple doesn’t always shower themselves in glory when it comes to finding major bugs before release.

  22. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    The reason it worked with bing is that nobody in their right mind uses bing.

    But seriously, the thing that gets me how can the company be so arrogant as to reduce the number of testers and QA staff? It really beggars belief!

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      We have had no problems with BING at all, not a single error report, oh wait - that's because nobody uses it.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "The reason it worked with bing is that nobody in their right mind uses bing."

      I'm more worried they compared a search engine running on servers fully under their control, and with a limited end-user interface, with a single use-case, with an OS running on users system and needing to support many thousands applications, and very different use cases. The way they break drivers looks to show they don't understand the difference. Once, they went even too far to ensure backward compatibility with admittedly badly written code - but too widespread or important to kill it.

      Without also not understanding why Google still rules - and why so few people use Bing. Also, that Amazon ad always on top, is really useful? You can look for "corpse" and find on top "look for discounted corpses on Amazon!!!" or something alike. Maybe a good tester would have spotted a better context awareness would have been helpful?

  23. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Grrrrrrrr..

    Working on Azure is the cool thing to do at Microsoft, and in the Cloud and AI Platform group under Scott Guthrie.

    Yeah, it's a supercomplexiferied frankenproduct with obscure but adequately royal pricing structure where you can practically see the seams of Microsoft Management Silos poking through the blueish facade.

    I'm pining for the AWS. Alas, Management has commanded!! after a visit by "consultants".

  24. BobChip
    FAIL

    Win 10 broken beyond repair?

    An IT salesperson asked me this week how I could possibly prefer Linux to Microsoft. I asked him if he had ever tried, or even looked at Linux, to which the answer was unsurprisingly, an emphatic NO! Why on earth should I? (Wrong religion, I guess)

    It does not seem to matter how terminally broken Win 10 is, like a car with a written off engine, unthinking fans will continue to sing its praises. Even though it is not going anywhere. Corporate users, who cough up for MS's profits, are bound to see things differently.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Win 10 broken beyond repair?

      Because staying put is preferable to going BACKWARDS (which is what everyone sees). All else fails, go off the rails and blaze a new trail.

  25. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Linux

    Speeding Up Migration

    ....from Windows to Linux or OS/X. We run a mixed environment and permit experienced users their preference. The trend has been moving away from Windows usually after they compare notes on the stability of their systems and the ease or inconvenience of upgrades, security and maintenance. Windows users resist change but those that have migrated are pleased with the increased efficiency and the reduction of the hassels that seem to increase with each major upgrade.

    Our performance goals and expectations do not diminish based on problems derived from users personal system preferences. We hold THEM responsible and while we support their preferences we do not accept as an excuse the 'system ate my work product'.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Speeding Up Migration

      "Our performance goals and expectations do not diminish based on problems derived from users personal system preferences. We hold THEM responsible and while we support their preferences we do not accept as an excuse the 'system ate my work product'."

      Does that include people over your head, or are you actually in a position to be over everyone's head?

  27. mark l 2 Silver badge

    How can MS compare how testing is done on a search engine compared to a whole OS update?

    As far as I know when MS make changes to Bing it doesn't require the end users to download gigabytes worth of updates which can tie up their PC for hours while they install, and then if it breaks their system they have to spend hours trying to get it back to where they were before they started the update.

  28. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

    Bing?

    Qulity?

    Oxymoron

  29. thomas k

    *gulp*

    I am at this very moment waiting for UPS to deliver a new HP PC. Definitely low-end - Ryzen 3 1200 with Radeon RX550 - but a step up from the Core i3 with integrated 515 graphics I'm using now. Almost afraid to connect it to the interwebs when I set it up.

    I must say, however, that I didn't experience any issues with the October update on my Lenovo.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Testing

    MS needs an army of black box testers that have ZERO to do with the development of the product. Theses need to be dedicated pros at breaking their shit and being able to tell the developers how it broke. QA is now mostly done by developers which are arrogant tools that will swear their code is perfect or that they didn't touch that code in this release so it cannot be broken. How can these guys be trusted. Well as it shows now we have beta products being released with little or no competent user level testing being done on products which ruins reputations and costs millions in overtime to fix errors making it out into production. I worked in this field early in my career and everything I warned so many about is now true. Oh and Agile can suck a #@$%^ buzzword for being cheap to get executive level bonuses.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Now it all makes sense.

    Thanks Andrew. This answered a question that's being bugging me for over a year now.

    I've been a pen centric Windows PC tablet user since Vista. The digital ink/stlus conventions have remained consistent over over that ten year plus period. Windows 10 1709, foistered upon an unsuspecting pen community, completely broke those conventions overnight. Cue stylus users immediate outrage. And what did we get in return for trashing our workflow? A digital on-scren ruler.

    If Microsoft want proof their imbelicity hasn't gone unnoticed than I suggest they ask why HP's state of the art zBook x2 Tablet PCis ships with Windows 10 1703, with Windows Update tuned off as default behaviour.

    Utterly moronic.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Now it all makes sense.

      If Microsoft want proof their imbelicity hasn't gone unnoticed than I suggest they ask why HP's state of the art zBook x2 Tablet PCis ships with Windows 10 1703, with Windows Update tuned off as default behaviour.

      The reason for Win10 1703 is simply because the Zbook X2 G4 was released after 1703 but before 1709 came out, and HP sticks to their original preload image no matter how long they sell the model.

      FWIW, HP hasn't turned Windows Update off because Win10 doesn't allow that. And even if they managed that, they'd just gain more liabilities and some lawyer-speak from MS.

      1. panthonyl

        Re: Now it all makes sense.

        The reference to the Zbook was directly lifted from Pocketnow's review of the machine, specifically;

        "The HP zBook x2 actually ships with an older version of Windows 10. You’ll get 1703, the original “Creators Update”. Our review unit arrived with the Windows Update service disabled in order to keep Windows 10 from updating itself to a newer version. We are advised to use the HP Support app to install updates instead of Windows Update. I thought this was strange, until I remembered how terrible the Fall Creators Update and subsequent Windows 10 Feature updates have been when it comes to the pen interface.

        I decided to install the Windows 10 April 2018 update anyway, and sure enough, the pen interface turned to garbage on account of Windows 10’s new pen behavior. It became terribly unreliable to use with “Windows Ink” turned on (scrolling things instead of drawing or simply causing the whole system to become unresponsive), and still palm rejection didn’t work at all with “Windows Ink” turned off in the pen driver’s “HP Create Control Panel”. One of the later Windows 10 updates brought a registry edit option that helps fix the pen behavior only in Win32 based programs, but not the UWP apps and not the Edge browser. You can find out more about that on the Windows Ink Reddit where you’ll also see plenty of comments criticizing this change that has caused so many programs to break."

        Regardless, the point stands that Microsoft's reliance on geeks and hobbyists to QA their software will inevitably lead to wrong headed decisions, junking "boring old" stuff so as to incorporate "whizzy new stuff" that only a 15 year old would consider useful.

        As I ended up in diaogue with members of the Windows Ink team on this issue I can assure you the level of users' anger is well known within the team, but their ability to change anything, based on what seems to be system based purely on upvoting among geeks and hobbyists, is self evidently limited.

        As I said, utterly moronic.

  32. J. Cook Silver badge
    Joke

    But Andrew: Tell us how that makes you feel. :D

  33. Big Al 23

    I hope the lawyers hold Microsoft accountable for the damages

    As if to prove that the lights are on but no one is home at Microsoft... Win 10 updates have turned millions of computers into rubbish with nothing but heartache and Hell for Win 10 users to deal with. This is completely unacceptable and the result of gross negligence IMNHO. I believe consumer protection agencies world wide should sue Microsoft for billions to hold them accountable for their gross incompetence and willful negligence. Otherwise Microsoft will continue to distribute defective updates and software for huge financial profit.

  34. Thrifty Scot

    Microsoft clearly has abismal QA standards!

    This article was both refreshing and very interesting. Well written indeed and I agree with all that Andrew has written. I would add that it is not only MICROSOFT that we should be concerned about. It is indeed alarming that a huge organisation such as Microsoft continue to get it wrong again and again on such an absurd scale and clearly they could not care less. However if we combine Microsoft's failures with other large organisations that have also failed on a catastrophic scale such as TSB Bank and their disastrous implementation of a new online banking platform, Facebook's leaking of millions of users data etc. It is clear to me that the whole industry of software development is leading us all into dire straits and it needs to learn/change as a matter of the utmost urgency. Clearly QA (Quality Assurance) is non existent in these companies and they need to learn /implement the principals of right first time development. Having the Customer test your product is not QA. It is a policy of Disaster!

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Microsoft clearly has abismal QA standards!

      Of course they have QA standards! They copied them from the Complaints Division of Sirius Cybernetics! Share and Enjoy!

      (or was that "Go stick your head in a pig"?)

      Sorry, couldn't resist. The coat with the HHGTTG radio play cassette tape in the pocket (yes, I am that old)

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft clearly has abismal QA standards!

        It's cheaper to lawyer their way out of it (that includes lobbying governments to see their way) than to actually do things right. And because they hold a captive market, they feel they're nigh bulletproof. After all, where will everyone go with budgets as tight as they are today?

  35. SVV Silver badge

    The problem is fundamental

    A personal computer operating system should be nothing more than a system that manages the operation of other applications, providing services such as GUI, networking, process control, filesystem, etc through a well defined set of programattic hardware interfaces. But no, they've come to see it as a means of total control by trying (and failing disastrously) to at the same time colonise the entire business and consumer IT world by adding in crap like Bing to try and get back control of browsers and search, UWP to try and reverse the catastrophic failure in the mobile space, big snooping to try and be Google, and moving stuff to the cloud to try and grab more of that too. Sure, they're making big money with Azure, but it isn't from cloud based Win 10 servers. I and every other serious IT person I know is avoiding Win 10 and thinking that this is not a viable thing to risk having in our business. There's no better alternative than sticking with Win 7 for now, but all talk seems to be of finding a different way forward for the future than Windows.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The problem is fundamental

      "There's no better alternative than sticking with Win 7 for now, but all talk seems to be of finding a different way forward for the future than Windows."

      And yet we're not seeing much actual movement away from Windows, especially for those who seem to be stranded (like professional gamers who need top-end performance and whose software lineup is pretty much Windows-ONLY). I'll start believing people are abandoning Windows when I start people like that turn away money and moving away in serious numbers because that means the economics finally means the price is too high even to bribe.

      I'm also waiting to see if a "dilemma" moment hits at some point. Say there's a bad update in the pipe that bricks most of the systems that try to update. Yet, at the same time, a super-critical (say remote-control total-pwnage exploit that can spread like crazy without intervention) bug hits in the old version. This means computers that MUST be online face a real dilemma: get bricked or get pwned. I would think the lawyers would get involved at that point.

  36. abufrejoval

    Here are some tips on how to reduce the testing workload

    Slowing down, is not really an option, slimming down should help making the workload manageable.

    Short version: Concentrate on the Operating System, not an ecosystem of vendor lock-in that nobody wants

    Detailed version for things to kill:

    - The microsoft shop or store or whatever it's called: Never used it, never needed it, deactivated it. Nobody wants a Microsoft software tax on applications. Sell Office on Steam, make sure it runs on Linux, too

    - Edge, Internet Explorer: You are not a browser company, but more importantly: Nobody wants you to be. How many more decades do you need to understand that it's not a good thing to do what nobody wants you to do?

    - Anything Xbox: Steam works better, Uplay and Origin are ok, nobody wants yours!

    - Stop this editions crap: S, Home, Professional, Ultimate, Enterprise, Server, Client... Just create a single server edition, eliminate all that license checking stuff, because it breaks things

    - Sell the OS at a reasonable price per user independently of computers: Don't penalize people who run several perhaps even a dozen different physical/virtual computers or just OS images that get moved/swapped between PCs. The ease with which a single SSD can be booted on a handful of systems is one of the major advantages Windows 10 currently has even over any Linux, is something I have come to enjoy (with VLK enterprise editiions). Look at Android (any number of devices) or Steam (no concurrent use) for how to not penalize buying more hardware, when they only ever use one at any given time.

    - stop trying to play catchup with Apple: Why would anyone want to sink that low?

    - stop collecting user data

    - stop sending collected data to Microsoft servers

    - stop Cortana and this Microsoft specific OS embedded AI stuff: Create usable AI API frameworks which allow users to chose Cortana, Alexa, Siri or Whatnot if they want, but don't try to make it the new MediaPlayer, InternetExplorer etc.: You're evidently too small a company to do that properly

    There are also things to add:

    - support running Android applications, including Play Store, seamlessly

    - support running Linux applications, including native Linux kernel API docker containers, seamlessly

    - native Linux file system support

    I got really big machines with dozens of cores, hundreds of gigabyte of RAM, Atoms and many things in between: Every month I am banging my head on the table when I see how slowly patches get installed, while nothing, absolutely nothing is going on these machines: One core is burning hot, no network or storage I/O of any kind, just some code ruminating on: "To copy, or not to copy this file, that is the question..." Pitiful!

    Unforgivable sins:

    - Knowing "better": At one point in time, Microsoft decided that users who click "shutdown" on their computers, would rather 'hibernate' their systems, even if that is a different button on my Classic Shell (without which Windows 10 would be unusable). So whenI then take that SSD and start it on a different computer, it looses all the data and changes in the hibernate file, because the new computer has different hardware and cannot just blindy resume a suspended image. I knew that this would be the case, which is why I hit "shutdown". But Microsoft knew better and after a couple of swaps forth and back I finally figured out I had to hit a greyed out option somewhere deep in the energy settings...

    That's how engineers just following manager's orders get shot on their way home

    - Forced Windows upgrade etc.

    Generally:

    - Don't go for world domination, try being better than the competition for a change, that might just be enough to ensure a leading position

    - Concentrate on slimming down

    - If you really think the world needs a new file system, make sure it also works with Linux

    - work with open standards e.g. Vulkan instead of DX12. If Vulkan is worse, make it better

    1. fung0

      Re: Here are some tips on how to reduce the testing workload

      Excellent list - you hit all my favorites, and added a few.

      Isn't it odd how game developers have failed to support DX12? Years after Win10 shipped, still only a handful of games with DX12 (optional) support, and no particularly dramatic benefit.

    2. JLV Silver badge

      Re: Here are some tips on how to reduce the testing workload

      > I finally figured out I had to hit a greyed out option somewhere deep in the energy settings...

      +10. Been there. It was worse though: not in the energy settings proper but under 2 levels of unlabelled GUIDs in the Registry - there was Sleep-related Boolean to toggle ;-) No, I didn't figure it out myself: this idiotic setting is all over the web, because it's been putting machines to sleep at unwanted moments ever since Windows 7.

      Say whatever you want about obscure Linux settings: they usually have cryptic names, not GUIDs.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Sell Office on Steam, make sure it runs on Linux, too"

      Oh, the Linux dreamer who believes MS should work to kill Windows (and itself) and make Linux dominating the world...

      Steam? LOL, why should they ever give money to another store, which implies other cruft to install, and be tracked by? They can simply sell Office directly or through resellers like they always did.

      Is Google more a browser company than MS? Actually MS started well before to develop browsers, and Chrome just became the new IE - a trojan horse to try to dominate web applications development, plus slurping data.

      Just a single server edition? Why? Even under Linux you find different editions. Not all users are equal. And from a commercial perspective make full sense. Can the actual one be improved? Sure. But it also allows lower prices for entry level users.

      What is a "reasonable" price for you? I'm afraid it's very low... right? There are licenses to run several images. If you ever only used OEMs one, it's only your fault.

      Android apps? Why should someone run crappy phone apps sending slurped data home on a PC?

      Containers can be run on Windows - supporting Linux apps? Which ones? One reason people don't use Linux is the lack of applications. Why spending a lot of effort to run non existent apps? You can still run Linux in a VM under Hyper-V, and 10 has some Linux support, if you need to run the few server ones you need.

      There are also the GPL issues - how far you can go to support, say EXT4 (but why?) without falling into the GPL trap? You just need to write a file system driver for Windows to support them, why no open source project did it?

      Vulkan is not a "standard" - it's just a library - and while both Apple and MS are members of the consortium, why both shouldn't develop their own ones (Metal and DirectX)?

      I really fear a world where there's no competition and everything is controlled by a single entity. It was wrong that could be Microsoft, but another entity would be no better.

      Linux wasn't written "by God", and has its own issues - healthy competition stimulates improvements.

      One OS to rule them all would just bind everybody in darkness.

      1. abufrejoval

        Re: "Sell Office on Steam, make sure it runs on Linux, too"

        Edge, Chrome etc.:

        I guess what I dislike most about Edge is that it's Windows-only. If it were simply another browser besides Firefox, Opera and Chrome it would be worth a try, but tying it to Windows and pushing it they way they do is just not doing anyone a favor. Every time I switch the preferred browser to Firefox, I have to click extra and confirm that I really am not interested in even trying Edge: I won't try, because they don't make it a simple choice. And I won't try, because they overwrite that setting on every upgrade for every user: An upgrade is supposed to maintain the previous settings, but they overwrite them every time. It shows lack of respect for user choices and I won't even consider using one of their two browsers precisely for that reason.

        Of course I am also not using Chrome if I can avoid it, for the exact same reason: They make it hard to do what I want. I want to delete all cookies when I close the browser. Chrome makes that extra difficult and you're left thinking, that "delete all" actually means "delete all non-Google cookies" to them.

        That's at least lack of respect if not downright fraud, so I treat Chrome with the respect it deserves.

        Everybody has a bias, but I tend to use what fits best. I do prefer running my desktop on Windows over running it on Linux, because it tends to be snappier and I am quite simply more used to it. In fact I like it so much, I'd love to run Linux Docker containers on Windows without having to switch the OS. They come with a Linux base, because that's what developers use and because it does a rather good job at most things servers: Even Microsoft seems to agree. Does that make me a Linux dreamer? Not in my book.

        I own Crossover Linux and regularly try running Windows applications on Linux as well, just to see how or if things are progressing. Typically that doesn't last very long and I am back to Windows. Actually these days I even prefer RDP over X11, even if X-Windows originally (except perhaps for SunView or NeWS) was the only proper remote GUI environment und much better than the first MS terminal servers.

        Have you tried Microsoft Office for Android? I cannot see it being any worse than the Windows variant. And there is plenty of other software out there, which gives a much better desktop experience than some of the 'native' Linux apps. I run PhoenixOS, an Android-x86 variant for PCs as one of the many operating systems I regularly track for their evolution. It's perhaps the best desktop OS I have found for low-power Atom computers: Much snappier and flexible than any CentOS/Ubuntu/FreeBSD/PC-BSD/Hackintosh or Windows.

        I actually run ext4 on Windows via a Paragon Systems add-on. It's just that they tried to position ReFS against ZFS and Btrfs and failed somewhere mid-way, wasting a tons of engineering time they could have spent on QA. AFAIK file systems can be dynamically loaded on NT and thus not risk violating the GPL. NT at its base was very much designed by Dave Cutler to be a multi-kernel-API OS, supporting OS/2, Posix, Win32 and NT from what I remember.

        I have an MSDN subscription so I typically run Windows server editions on my machines, if only because that way the store and all the data forwarding are disabled by default. I like any-2-any RDP, NFS services and some other stuff the server editions activate, but I hate drivers which fail, because they won't support 'servers' that are actually also workstations: Either way there are annyoing restrictions which are all politics.

        And unfortunately Hyper-V is about the worst hypervisor, Virtualbox wonderfully consistent across Windows/Linux, while it will actually use KVM as hypervisor on a Linux host and dropped whatever hypervisor they originally had. I guess if Hyper-V as type 1 hypervisor could be used with VirtualBox the way KVM is on Linux, I would prefer that to using VirtualBox as type 2 as I do now: Because I move VMs between Windows and Linux hosts quite regularly.

        Did I say that I need access to Nvidia GPUs in the Docker containers for CUDA applications? Not sure that's anywhere close to working on Windows.

        Vulkan is a standardized API. If Microsoft had serious quality concerns about the quality of the API, I am quite sure the Khronos group would welcome their contributions, especially for a new Ray-Tracing extension or Augmented Reality.

        But instead Microsoft is pushing their proprietary derivatives, the way they have always done. And I give them the respect they deserve for that.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: "Sell Office on Steam, make sure it runs on Linux, too"

          Most of those things are things that I'd really like Microsoft to do, and that they could (and should) do. However, that list contains some random stuff that while potentially desirable, is not logical for Microsoft to write. Running android apps? You might want it. I'll put my vote in the no pile. Why would Microsoft want to do that? Is there any benefit to their spending a ton of time doing something Google's having trouble with with the result that Google's platform gets a stronger market purpose? For making office run on Linux, why? Not only why do you want office to run on Linux when you don't seem to like either, but also why would Microsoft go out of their way to support a competitor to their product. As for selling it on steam, no thank you. Steam may support Linux more, which is always nice, but I would not like to use it for buying random stuff (I'm not a gamer and so I don't have an account) but also it's not some independent place making open source software for us; it's a business in its own right that is no more trustworthy than others.

          My list for Microsoft includes various modifications to windows that you include as well, but could best be summarized as "Make windows good. Act like a normal business that competes on product quality and turn your efforts to actually increasing product quality. If you do that, I'll decide on the products' merits which ones I'll use and for what. Accept my decision when I make it, and try to change it by making your products better rather than torpedoing me." I don't demand or expect that they'll do something that's insane from their business perspective.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: "Sell Office on Steam, make sure it runs on Linux, too"

        "Linux wasn't written "by God", and has its own issues"

        True. All nontrivial software has bugs, and the more nontrivial it is, the more bugs are there. That said, Linux is certainly more solid than Windows, and it comes with the considerable benefit of not forcing you into Microsoft's (or anybody else's) "ecosystem".

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "Sell Office on Steam, make sure it runs on Linux, too"

        "Oh, the Linux dreamer who believes MS should work to kill Windows (and itself) and make Linux dominating the world."

        So why do they sell Office for MacOS?

        Big hint coming up: sell means they charge money for it whatever the OS..

      4. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: "Sell Office on Steam, make sure it runs on Linux, too"

        > Actually MS started well before to develop browsers

        Actually MS paid Spyglass to develop IE. No, wait, it was only Spyglass that thought they were going to get paid to do the work. MS had this plan where they weren't going to pay. Eventually the courts had to order MS to pay Spyglass.

    4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Here are some tips on how to reduce the testing workload

      " I knew that this would be the case, which is why I hit "shutdown". But Microsoft knew better and after a couple of swaps forth and back I finally figured out I had to hit a greyed out option somewhere deep in the energy settings..."

      Just as a heads-up, you probably want to check that setting from time to time. The last couple of six-monthlies have reset the switch on my systems.

    5. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Here are some tips on how to reduce the testing workload

      "Slowing down, is not really an option"

      Why not? Even if every release was perfect, I still think that they come far too fast to digest.

  37. Updraft102 Silver badge

    No one likes their name misspelled

    Woody Leonhard said that Windows is on a vicious downward spiral.

  38. Neoc

    Home networking broken

    Sometime in the last 6 months, Windows10 stopped handling my home network correctly, refusing to see other PC on the network via their name (and sometimes even their IP address). Before anyone says anything please be aware that

    1) My Linux PC still works properly.

    2) My Raspberry Pis (plural) still work properly.

    3) My Win7 HTPC still works correctly.

    4) Both my Win10 laptop and PC have stopped working properly.

    While it may not be possible for me to regress my Laptop, I still have an old Win7 Ultimate licence I can use to "upgrade" my Win10 PC to Win7.

    1. fung0

      Re: Home networking broken

      Beware - if your Win10 PC has recent Intel hardware, it may be impossible to load Win7, owing to the (deliberate) lack of motherboard drivers.

    2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: Home networking broken

      I think that is because they've switched off SMBv1. Those other systems you mention will still support v1 even if they are willing and able to run later versions, but MS (wisely, from a security point of view) have recently chosen to disable it. This change then collides with a decision (starting in Win7) to move away from NetBIOS-like browsing towards Function Discovery. FD doesn't seem to play nicely with non-Windows systems, so the disappearance of SMBv1 has broken the network neighbourhood for several zillion users.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Home networking broken

        "I think that is because they've switched off SMBv1"

        Current Debian & Devuan have also switched it off which was why my ancient NAS disappeared. I found I could work round it by setting up an FTP network drive instead....

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    At least the Stasi had ...

    ... superb German Engineering.

    "Wir mussen alles wissen".

    1. abufrejoval

      Re: At least the Stasi had ...

      No they didn't, they had shitty commuist stuff. I am ever so glad they didn't and keep waking up drenched in cold sweat, imagining "what if?" they had today's technology at their disposal. As with the Nazis, it wasn't the brightest who ruled at the top of this repressive organzation, if only because Mielke was little more than a shifty bastard and brute.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    MS BS

    When choosing this path, Microsoft got arrogant and thought they are too big to fail. The IT industry doesn't forgive though, last 30 years have plenty of examples like this. Microsoft need major shake and reality check.

    At home I kicked last Windows OS out of the door few years ago.

    At work, not so lucky, I still need to support this piece of s***. Every, literally every, Windows and Office update is messing something up. When we see the update window popping up we know it's a sign to fasten the seatbelts and wait for the incidents to start pouring in.

  41. Tom Melly

    Contrarian view (sort of)

    Not disagreeing with the general thrust of the article, but didn't the testers find most of the bugs? The problems seem to have stemmed more from MS then not bothering to investigate the reports.

  42. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Joke

    Let's go back to OS/2 then :p

  43. John70

    The rush to bring immature software to market has clearly deteriorated software quality

    Isn't this today's culture because of the Internet? Release something and fix it later in an update.

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I actually don't think they got arrogant

    I think they got scared.

    The iPad and the sudden rise of tablets scared the bejeezus out of MS. They had faffed about for so long with their own touchscreen system and wen't down so many blind alleys (I tried out MS touchscreen desktop prototypes at a Birmingham NEC hosted tech show 20+ years ago) that they thought they had no good answer to the rise of Apple and Android.

    Everything they have done in the personal computing space since then has been a reaction to that fear. The purchase of Nokia Telephony, the rushed and incomplete W8 (and subsequent release of W10), the Surface have all been about trying to keep control of the personal computing market, and forgetting that their core revenue was actually the corporate computing market.

    W10 still isn't a corporate ready O.S.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: I actually don't think they got arrogant

      The thing is, tablets have been and gone and all MS have to show for it is an OS with a crappy tablet UI bolted onto it and no tablets.

  45. Multivac

    Am I missing something here?

    History of Windows:

    Windows 95 - This is cool, excited about Windows 98.

    Windows 98 - This is rubbish, can't wait for Windows 2000.

    Windows 2000 - This is really rubbish, so looking forward to Windows ME replacing this junk.

    Windows ME - OMG this is rubbish, please please please release Windows XP.

    Windows XP - This almost works, we may be heading in the right direction at last.

    Windows Vista - We'll just stick with XP until Windows 7 comes out..

    Windows 7 - Well it's better then Vista?

    Windows 8 - This is so bad we're going to need an 8.1 before we even consider looking forward to Windows 9.

    Windows 8.1 - It'll work as a sticking plaster until Windows 9 comes out.

    Windows 9 - hello, hello, is anyone there?

    Windows 10 - Where'd my Windows 8.1 go, and why did everything stop working after the update?

    And at no point did anyone think, is there an alternative to Windows that just works?

    1. fung0

      Re: Am I missing something here?

      Multivac, dId you actually USE any of these OSes?

      Windows 3.x - amazing, breakthrough platform. A solid, usable GUI environment, but with full backward compatibility to DOS, which no one was prepared to give up at the time.

      Windows 95 - refined in every way, brilliant new UI; Windows 98 - even better than 95, in endless small ways.

      Also, omitted from your list:

      Windows NT - sheer genius: crash proof, rock-solid, albeit with the older UI. Possibly THE greatest achievement in the history of desktop OSes. Win2k was just NT with the Win9x UI, an absolutely superb OS in every way - I relied on it for years, even after WinXP shipped.

      Windows CE/Mobile - the breakthrough mobile OS, way ahead of its time, with a huge third-party ecosystem. Abandoning it was Microsoft's single biggest mistake, which Apple quickly capitalized on with its own vastly inferior mobile OS.

      Credit where credit is due - Microsoft didn't rise to power by building crappy products. Alas, once its competitors were all exterminated, the company rapidly went to seed.

      And yes, many companies did try to find alternatives to Windows, but all failed. That's how it is with monopolies. Even IBM couldn't break free, at a time when it owned the hardware side. Not because OS/2 was a bad OS, but because the lock-in of Windows was already too strong.

      1. abufrejoval

        Re: Am I missing something here?

        Windows NT 3.51 was ok, especially the multi-user variants from Citrix and NCD (X11 support).

        But NT 4 was a nightmare: Any cheap printer driver that wasn't thread-safe could crash a terminal server with 50 users on it just because they decided to go against everything Dave Cutler had been preaching and put device drivers at ring 0 to make them fast enough to beat Apple.

      2. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: Am I missing something here?

        > Windows 3.x - amazing, breakthrough platform. A solid, usable GUI environment, but with full backward compatibility to DOS,

        Most went to Windows 3.x so that they could run multiple DOS boxes - Lotus123 and WordPerfect. Solid?? if you didn't get 'Unrecoverable Application Error' with 3.0 every day then you weren't using it. 3.1 was much better but simply replaced UAE with a different message.

        > Windows NT - sheer genius:

        And that genius was DEC's David Cutler

        > Windows CE/Mobile - the breakthrough mobile OS,

        Now you are being ironic, maybe you misspelt 'broken'. CE was the equivalent of MS-DOS: single core, single tasking with something like the TSR system. It may have been fine for embedded systems (which is what it was designed for: CE=Consumer Electronics) but it was a stretch to call it an operating system.

        > way ahead of its time

        No it wasn't, it was from the mid 90s and was all that Microsoft had.

        > Abandoning it was Microsoft's single biggest mistake, which Apple quickly capitalized on with its own vastly inferior mobile OS.

        They didn't abandon it until far too late, it was still in Windows Phone 7, though this was completely incompatible with the previous CE Windows Mobile 6.x.

        > Credit where credit is due - Microsoft didn't rise to power by building crappy products.

        No. It rose to power by buying products or companies, rebranding them and making them crappy.

        > Alas, once its competitors were all exterminated, the company rapidly went to seed.

        Many competitors were all exterminated by MS contracting with them or buying them. The current competitors survived by not being able to be bought, either because they were too big in other areas or because they can be forked and survive.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: Am I missing something here?

          Windows CE wasn't great, perhaps, but it was stable and did run for mobile PDA-type things. You could use the applications on them, and you could load others. It provided a common platform for applications that would run regardless of device peculiarities, and with some support for modern (of the time) hardware. You could also get some interaction between the mobile device and computer that actually worked, sort of. What other mobile OS had that at the time? As I recall, most of them worked but only with their own programs, or weren't compatible with much else. I think it could have provided Microsoft with a very good entrance into mobile computing, although we'll never know because they threw it away with Windows Phone 7. Still, there are a lot of embedded devices that still run it (I don't know why).

          As for normal windows, I've never really loved it, but most versions were acceptable until windows 8. That's when they didn't just alter the interface, but instead crumpled it up and started over. I'd have to give windows 10 a slight edge over windows 8 in the interface department, but that's like saying that it's closer to the top of Mt. Everest because it's standing on a phone book. Meanwhile, everything else still managed to get worse with the release of windows 10.

    2. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: Am I missing something here?

      Windows 98 - This is rubbish, can't wait for Windows 2000.

      I thought it was pretty bad because of its obnoxious "everything is a web page" UI, designed to blur the line between Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer, but it was generally popular and considered decent by most. It was more stable than 95, which isn't saying much.

      Windows 2000 - This is really rubbish, so looking forward to Windows ME replacing this junk.

      I don't recall a lot of people thinking Windows 2000 was rubbish. It was the "pro" answer to the consumer equivalent, Windows ME, released later the same year (2000). They were never intended for the same market.

      Windows 7 - Well it's better then Vista?

      It's a bit more popular than that now. It's the one everyone wants to keep using.

      Windows XP was a juggernaut. I used it from c. 2002 to its end of support on one or the other PC, for well over ten years. If they could have just stuck with that UI and just changed the minimum possible to accommodate newer technologies, I'd have been as happy with it as I had been for the first ten years.

      Windows 10 is the first Windows I have really and truly despised. I avoided Vista, but I would have rather used it then than I would use 10 now.

  46. N2 Silver badge
    Trollface

    Windows 10 is broken

    But MS won't fix or listen

    1. Multivac

      Re: Windows 10 is broken

      Why would they, they have your money and they know you'll be installing Windows 11 as soon as it's out, they've been doing the exact same thing since Windows 98 and why change a massively successful business model?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Windows 10 is broken

        "Why would they, they have your money and they know you'll be installing Windows 11 as soon as it's out"

        That would mean a pretty big rethink (although it might be the only way to get out from under W10's reputation). They made it clear that everything from now on will be W10 even if the rolling upgrades mean not a single line of the original code remains.

  47. Stuart Castle

    I think the problem is Google.. Before you switch off, let me explain.

    Over the years, Google has released several beta products for large scale use by the general public (yes, they had a system where you had to be invited to use it, but lets face it, invites were not hard to get) They did this to generate publicity, but it also got the public used to the idea of using Beta products.

    They (and Mozilla) also started a sort of version number arms race, where they'd release several new versions of their browsers each year, each with a relatively minor change. With the result that Firefox, Chrome and Opera all have version numbers in the high fifties, where if they stuck to only updating the major version number with major changes, they'd probably still be on version 12 or 13.

    My concern isn't so much the nonsense version numbers, more that the race for ever higher and higher numbers is causing companies to rush development. It also seems to be causing companies to reduce things like proper beta testing (public beta testing is OK as an addition to internal professional testing, but it's not a good substitute). It's likely Microsoft are being affected by this. Adobe certainly are, as are Apple. On a related note, I know that Microsoft, back in the 90s, spent a lot of money on designing user interfaces, even to the point of using products like Macromedia director to create a models of new UIs and testing them before implementing them in products. With things like the ribbon, and start screen, it feels like they've given up that step, and are just trying new ideas on the public now.

    I'd like to see all software companies take a step back. They need to slow development, They need to cut the number of releases (preferably to one a year), and they need to do their utmost to ensure that new versions are as ready as they can be before release. The current method used by all software companies (certainly by Microsoft, Apple and Adobe) seems to be release the new version as soon as it's ready, then require the customer to download patches to fix the inevitable bugs. That's fine if, like me, the user has a relatively fast and stable network connection, but a lot of people don't. They don't want to be spending several hours downloading a patch just so they can get their Word processor working.

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      On a related note, I know that Microsoft, back in the 90s, spent a lot of money on designing user interfaces, even to the point of using products like Macromedia director to create a models of new UIs and testing them before implementing them in products.

      MS did not do this for TIFKAM.

  48. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

    This is not news...

    Oracle and SAP have been doing this for years.

  49. N2 Silver badge

    Perhaps

    When this shit slide impacts on bottom line, MS will realise the error of their ways.

    But it may be too late then, my daughter works for a global company and uses Windows 7. There are no plan to change to 10 as its not suitable. The company has moved everything they can server wise to Linux. They are currently looking at alternatives to Outlook, Word & Excel and once thats decided they wil look at desktop versions of Linux.

    Only if MS were to continue to support for 7 would they remain MS.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Re: Perhaps

      When this shit slide impacts on bottom line, MS will realise the error of their ways.

      Unfortunately, Windows is just a sideline for Microsoft now. Unless MS wrecking Windows somehow harms their cloud offerings, MS is happy to keep letting Windows flail about. It's all about the cloud now. People keep thinking that MS is going to wake up when they realize that their actions are slowly destroying Windows (as a product, it's already destroyed, but MS only cares about it as a source of revenue, and it's not totally destroyed in that way yet), but that's not going to happen. They already know. And they don't care.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Perhaps

        "MS is happy to keep letting Windows flail about. It's all about the cloud now."

        Why would anyone use an MS cloud product if they weren't beholden to Windows on their desktops? There are other cloud vendors, maybe better, maybe worse, but certainly *interchangeable* and (in the event of a sufficiently serious screw-up by one of them) *replaceable*. If this really is Microsoft's long-term strategy, then it is corporate suicide and I can only hope that billg finishes spending his cash on good causes before his shareholdings become worthless.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Perhaps

        "Unless MS wrecking Windows somehow harms their cloud offerings, MS is happy to keep letting Windows flail about."

        But that's the thing -- Microsoft's cloud offerings are really only attractive to people and companies who are invested in Windows. I don't think Microsoft can disentangle the two.

  50. &rew
    Meh

    We need alternatives - good ones

    A little background to my comment:

    I am not a software professional. I am a grunt that uses software to do my job, but I like to know a bit about the tools I use. So, for good or ill, I read The Register. And for good or ill, I read the comments.

    I can agree that MS Windows has never been the most reliable thing. However, in the dim and distant past, when my computer crashed, it completely fell over. Now, it generally just wobbles. At no point in the past 20-odd years of using MS Windows have I ever been sure that it was the fault of Windows or the application that caused the crash.

    Analogy Time:

    Is it the fault of the driver of the vehicle for not swerving around a pothole it may or may not have seen, or the fault of the council for not patching the hole? Do we make allowances for the fact that the road is REALLY long, takes a long time to survey, and if you drive a big, heavy industrial vehicle, chances are you won't be able to swerve around every single road defect?

    Back to the main thrust of my comment:

    As an engineer, I use Autodesk Inventor and Vault, Microsoft Office, MathCAD and a few tiny but indispensable programs. None of these are fully supported (some not at all) on ANY other operating system than Windows. I can't imagine that I am alone in using software that is only developed to run on Windows. There simply is no alternative, we have to use it. And we have to upgrade to a fairly recent version because of corporate environment, security updates, support and so on.

    Until there is another road that is wide enough, and well-maintained enough to accommodate the behemoths that companies use to get them to where they're going, or the vehicle manufacturers agree to support both left- and right-hand-drive models (perhaps a better analogy here would be to support wheels that are both round and those of constant diameter?) people like me are stuck using Windows at work. And because I use it all the time, it makes sense for me to use what I am familiar with at home as well. Plus, all my games, media players and editing software are supported.

    I have tried Linux twice. Three times if you count running a SmoothWall box. I agree it is fantastic at what it does, and it keeps getting better. However, until I can drive my articulated lorry application on it, it will remain the cul-de-sac of this tortured analogy.

    1. overunder Bronze badge

      Re: We need alternatives - good ones

      "At no point in the past 20-odd years of using MS Windows have I ever been sure that it was the fault of Windows or the application that caused the crash."

      ??? Unless you have VERY unstable power, it has to be the OS or application that causes a crash. But, in the case of Windows, Windows has had an extremely poor record of handling buggy drivers correctly (thus BSOD). But again, has the WinAPI been clearly documented? Not at all, hence buggy drivers.

      As for the rest, yes, people use Windows for the applications and not the OS, as always.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: We need alternatives - good ones

      "There simply is no alternative, we have to use it."

      At some time their customer base is going to have to start telling vendors that they have to port to a better platform whatever that might be.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: We need alternatives - good ones

        And I'd the reply is, "Can't afford it" AND they hold trade secret sauce that makes competition unlikely?

        The biggest problem with Windows is Captive Markets.

    3. Richard Plinston Silver badge

      Re: We need alternatives - good ones

      > until I can drive my articulated lorry application on it

      Linux is not a weighbridge!

  51. Alowe

    Even today I went to open a PDF file and for some reason Windows tried to open it with Edge. I've never used Edge and never want to. I've always used Adobe to view PDF files, so why the change?

    Not to mention Windows keeps trying to set Bing as my search provider no matter how many times I try to disable it. It's like a constant fight to keep MS from taking over my computer.

    Not to mention the Microsoft update virus that deletes all your files. We need protection from MS now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "keep MS from taking over my computer."

      Sigh.

      It is not your computer. It belongs to MS who graciously let you use it from time (when they are not slurping or applying broken updates...).

      The can (and do) whatever they like to your system and there is SFA that you can do about it.

      Go on sue them and see what that gets you... Zilch.

      Windows has been broken from 8.0 onwards but 8.0 and 8.1 could be tamed with a bit of work but Windows 10 is a whole different level of shit/crap/dog-pooh when compared to what has gone before.

      Before I retired, I had a sign on my desk that said, "Windows 10 NOT spoken here!"

      even battling with systemd is better than what windows has become today.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: "keep MS from taking over my computer."

        "even battling with systemd is better than what windows has become today."

        Don't bother. Go to Devuan.

  52. Nematode

    MS should realise that W10 is an OPERATING SYSTEM and not an end in itself. It should be invisible, reliable, secure, bug free, easy to use, give us one or maybe two consistent ways to run programs or change settings, not many many, not steal our data, not force "upgrades" on us and, oh, do what an OS should which is lie there out of sight and let just us run the applications which we're actually using a computer for in the first place. Jeez I had to hack the registry yesterday to export a Powerpoint slide to jpg at a decent resolution. The average user can't even find that fix much less do it. My wife would have simply turned the machine off.

    MS need to shift their entire paradigm and realise where they are in the product development curve and just settle for less. Apple is not a lot better, and getting worse. If I could have truly seamless app level compatibility with Linux, I'd be on Mint or Ubuntu like a flash, but unfortunately there are too many real-world mismatches, and the favoured answer of some to "just run Windows in a virtual machine" is also not real world simple. But Linux is not far off the ideal. No wonder it's used for web servers

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "MS need to shift their entire paradigm and realise where they are in the product development curve and just settle for less."

      Problem is, what if you're at the TAG end, meaning settling for less equals settling for NOTHING, meaning you cease to exist? NO ONE I know will accept the inevitable that gracefully, especially since most have unfinished business or simply want to live forever. Besides, they still possess quite a captive market out there (or we'd be seeing major developers switching over already).

    2. Teiwaz Silver badge

      MS should realise that W10 is an OPERATING SYSTEM

      There's the mistake a lot of people make.

      It's not really, it's a platform for gathering information on you in order to sell.

      Much like ChromeOS and Android, which like Win 10 are certainly not 'the end in itself' but merely the Trojan Horse you've happily wheeled in and been impressed with how nice it looks. Or at least in theory, if you've wheeled it in and gawked at it, mesmerised by it's clunky lack of any grace or elan, it's general uselessness or how often it breaks, you've at least still wheeled it in.

      1. imanidiot Silver badge

        I've wheeled it in, stabbed a few heavy spears through the innards and blocked the hatch on the bottom.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Except that's what they WANT you to do. The REAL invasion force is waiting for you to get distracted while they nip in through one of the gates they managed to sneak open.

  53. organum

    Article correctomundo! Solid QA is essential in any organisation and with direct access to the CEO/COO to stop cr.p shipments in extremis. Goes for hardware and software.

    Apple is also not immune to this stuff although it does seem to go deeper since the boss sadly died.

  54. JLV Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    alternate look by Ars at the same issue

    Good article and a much needed wake up call to Redmond. Ars has an alternate take on this, which starts out with the same premise, that that Windows is broken, and suggests a complementary possible cause.

    https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/10/microsofts-problem-isnt-shipping-windows-updates-its-developing-them/

    Basically, the author says that new features are developed in isolation, often without using automated testing. The active coding interval is surprisingly short, 8-10 weeks. Then, near the end everything is thrown into the pot together, integration testing - a lot of it manual - starts and bugs are slowly brought under control.

    His concern is that this process, barely adequate at the best of time, managed to somewhat work under 3 year cycles. Under accelerated, cyclic releases, there just isn't enough time to corral all the bugs.

    It seems kinda hard to believe that this would be the case, but I know of at least one ERP system, by a one of the usual billion $ suspects, where the development pipeline of 200+ engineers regularly came to a crashing halt whenever a bug made it to the build: there is only 1 test server. Must do wonders for software quality, when every bug, no matter how complex, requires immediate fixing to unblock everyone else. Bug found at 9pm Friday has to be fixed by 8am Monday. Every. Single. Time.

    In a way, that is even more worrying that this article's premise. Sure, MS has enough money to throw more people at testing, and it should. And, sure, it should stop treating Insiders as a serious resource: witness their assent in the face of the Windows 8.0 GUI changes. Everyone else hated it, so they obviously weren't an appropriate way to gauge user acceptance or suitability.

    But these remain fairly simple problems to solve, given the will and the resources.

    But if MS's culture and tooling is incapable of using a mature and efficient process to flag bugs early in the development cycle, including issues arising from interactions between features, then changing that culture would be extremely challenging for any organization, let alone one with a product with as much technical debt as Windows and one with such a rich history of interdepartmental conflicts.

    MS can't go back to 3 year cycles, but it also doesn't seem like it is at all capable of making do with 1 year cycles, at least not with its current way to approach development.

    1. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: alternate look by Ars at the same issue

      I have to defend the windows insider testers here. Some of them may just approve anything that Microsoft does, but a lot of them just have the time and find some bugs. In general, once Microsoft has produced an insider build containing some feature, new interface, or relocated settings system, they are going to ship that. The insiders don't have the ability to say "That new interface is terrible. Go back to the last one." and actually have that advice taken. They can, however, report bugs. I think the blame can be placed on Microsoft for not listening to the insiders on bugs, which has been amply proven in recent weeks. The terrible interface and functionality changes were all Microsoft's initiative, and I would seriously doubt that any of them ever got run by someone external before they were implemented.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: alternate look by Ars at the same issue

        Even if Microsoft actually listened to insider reports (and I find it amazing that they apparently don't), the insider program still cannot adequately substitute for a real, internal, QA process. It can only supplement. This isn't because of some failing with the insiders, but because the fundamental concept of "crowdsourcing" QA is deeply flawed.

  55. Laughing Gravy

    I'm going to be repeating myself for a long time...

    Windows. Do people still use that shit?

  56. cat_mara

    An inevitable outcome...

    ... of accumulating technical debt and political in-fighting within Microsoft.

    A story: some years ago I was working for a consulting firm that was helping a healthcare company do a Microsoft Dynamics CRM rollout (note: I'm not a Dynamics CRM guy, my role on this was limited to getting some data out of the company's existing customer database into some custom fields in the thing). The Dynamics CRM instance was in the cloud which meant a federated Azure ActiveDirectory setup so single sign-on worked; also, because the company's Exchange servers were still on-premises and Dynamics CRM offers a facility where incoming emails are scraped for potential leads, this involved some complex orchestration between all the moving parts, but Microsoft even offered a little piece of "gateway" software specifically for this use-case to route your mails back out of your on-premises Exchange server to the cloud. Simples, right? Every single piece of the puzzle (Exchange, ActiveDirectory, Dynamics CRM, Azure, the little "gateway" thing whose name I forget) was made and supported by Microsoft. What could go wrong?

    Reader, it was like pulling teeth. It was as brittle as hell. The little "gateway" had no documentation to speak with and was obviously some stopgap tool some poor Microsoft bod had cooked up under duress. Thanks to the political siloing within Microsoft, its failure to work was of course Someone Else's Problem™ whoever you happened to be speaking to at the time. It was hinted the problem might go away if you just moved your Exchange servers along with the rest of your IT infrastructure into Azure, Access or American Express that'll do nicely sir or ma'am hem hem. At one point, it all started to work and then the IT guys in the company pushed a Group Policy update that made it sulk for two days until it sprang into life again. Don't ask me what they did, maybe they sacrificed a goat or something.

    This is Microsoft in microcosm. They often get stick for building monolithic products (look how long it took, for example, for the "WinMin" initiative to deliver a Windows kernel that could boot without the GUI) in their desire to suck you into having to cross-licence their stuff but under the surface it's a mess of sullen little fiefdoms who barely talk to one another because That Lot Over There took all the nice sodas out of our team fridge ten years ago (people who've worked in Microsoft know this isn't a joke) and We're Never Speaking To Them Again. Even the FOSS people when they aren't examining each others' backsides for who has the most truly open orifice co-operate more. People who want to change things for the better get bogged down in the politics and the organisational morass, like this rant that went viral a few years ago about the organisational inertia that paralysed what should have been a relatively trivial element in the Windows UI.

  57. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Windows

    Excellent article

    And put into words many of us feel windows is currently a shit show

    On the QC thing.

    I work in aerospace manufacturing........ how many of you would be happy to fly on a plane where the only people to have done any QC work would be the plane spotters brigade?

    No takers..... why does something critical as a desktop OS have no real QC ?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Excellent article

      "No takers..... why does something critical as a desktop OS have no real QC ?"

      Simple. Different definitions of "critical". In your world, "critical" equates to "some little thing goes wrong, planes fall, people die, governments forced to get involved, people risk getting thrown in prison". In Microsoft's world, "critical" means "no alternatives available--or there'd already be a mass exodus--and they probably have enough resources to lawyer their way out of trouble. After all, it's not like people die because of a bug in their system."

      For Microsoft's definition to change, some catastrophe (either people die or a major business goes bust) must be directly attributed to them. It's only crisis that motivates the people with the power.

      1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
        Windows

        Re: Excellent article

        OK I'll admit perhaps I didnt define critical system too well

        But given m$'s attempts to muscle in on the robot market (something that fills me with fear)

        Quote: "After all, it's not like people die because of a bug in their system."

        PCs ARE used in critical systems ... MRI scanners, Radiotherapy machines, industrial robots to name a few.

        A bug in win 10 introduced by automatic updates CAN kill in those circumstances... its not like "Oh I've lost the power point document I've been working on for 2 days" , its more like "Opps I've just given that cancer patient 10 times the gamma ray dose I should have"

        Which is why those sort of machines have "For gawd's sake dont let windows update run" signs on them.

        Or in the sector I deal with "Welcome to Linux, booting machine application, have a nice day"

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Excellent article

          "A bug in win 10 introduced by automatic updates CAN kill in those circumstances... its not like "Oh I've lost the power point document I've been working on for 2 days" , its more like "Opps I've just given that cancer patient 10 times the gamma ray dose I should have""

          Unless and until this actually happens AND can directly be attributed to Windows or a Windows-based Microsoft action, there will still be no impetus for action. Anything less, and Microsoft will probably lawyer its way out of it.

    2. Herring`

      Re: Excellent article

      I work in aerospace manufacturing........ how many of you would be happy to fly on a plane where the only people to have done any QC work would be the plane spotters brigade?

      The problem, generically, with software is that people want something that is as complex as a 787 but for £4.50.

      I worked on a shrink-wrapped thing back in the days when we had to get CDs printed and shipped. No issuing hotfixes over the internets. The (annoying but efficient) QA guy eventually had all his regression tests run against a coverage analysis tool until he was satisfied that every line was hit. Of course, with networks and race conditions, that doesn't mean that the tests are 100%, but even this effort was far more than you see on typical corporate software. Since the system made a lot of money, we had the leeway to spend the time on this.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Excellent article

        "The problem, generically, with software is that people want something that is as complex as a 787 but for £4.50."

        That may be the problem generically, but it isn't the problem in this case. Windows costs an order of magnitude more than this. At the bottom end of the market (cheap laptops) it is an appreciable fraction of the cost of the system.

  58. ByTheSea

    MS are not alone in their approach to testing. I know a very able, talented and hard-working tester in a major banking operation, where one would think that thorough testing would be paramount. Not so, on a Friday he has been approached by development on the line of... this release is due to commit Monday can you come in over the weekend. Having spent a long career in IT I find this approach by a bank frightening. Too often senior IT management have never written a line of code and approach it as...how hard can it be.

    1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

      RE: a major banking operation

      The problem with many big corporations is summed up (pardon the pun) in one word: Excel.

      Great for prototyping but should be banned for "production" purposes.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    The bit I don't get with all this...

    I can see how Microsoft is losing it madly with the new functionality - they probably farm it out to the cheapest programmers they can nearly get away with. And now there's no discernible QA any more, the results aren't too surprising.

    But Microsoft keeps breaking core and fundamental parts of Windows too - the parts that pretty much used to work. What on earth are they doing fiddling with this stuff? I can almost imaging a wide-reaching programme of internal sabotage going on.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The bit I don't get with all this...

      They're probably trying to break WINE to ensure there's no viable migration path. That's one reason ReactOS is stuck where it is; Windows is a moving target, and simply by keeping things changing, they make the act of keeping up and staying relevant too difficult.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: The bit I don't get with all this...

        They're probably trying to break WINE to ensure there's no viable migration path. That's one reason ReactOS is stuck where it is; Windows is a moving target, and simply by keeping things changing, they make the act of keeping up and staying relevant too difficult.

        Not that I might not buy that reasoning.

        Part of the traction of Windows is all the older software that people need to run, and need it to run.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: The bit I don't get with all this...

          And thus why it still keeps the older bits up to a point (WIn16 support was dropped with Win64, for example). But that's old stuff, not to mention custom stuff that probably can't be virtualized (like the lathe controlled by the custom card on an ISA bus--support for ISA was dropped with Vista), so that's kind-of "off the back end" territory. But all those custom-built software jobs are still workable, and there's still its stranglehold on the PC games market (in spite of the potential pull power of things like professional gaming leagues).

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: The bit I don't get with all this...

        "They're probably trying to break WINE to ensure there's no viable migration path."

        Once upon a time, maybe. Today WINE's just going to be another victim of general breakage.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: The bit I don't get with all this...

          "Once upon a time, maybe. Today WINE's just going to be another victim of general breakage."

          Still, the ongoing news of DXVK development, the inclusion of Proton in the Steam Play system and the addition of vkd3d to WINE is giving me pause. One of the biggest obstacles to Windows emigration even now seems to be actively engaged. It'll be interesting to see something mainstream switch to using stuff like this, though I suspect the lawyers will interfere with this, but I can seriously start to hope again. If things improve by 2020 (when Win7 support drops), there may just be another ship on which to jump finally.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: The bit I don't get with all this...

      "What on earth are they doing fiddling with this stuff?"

      If it's not well modularised adding a feature might well touch core code.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: If it's not well modularised adding a feature might well touch core code.

        The cynic in me suspects that this is done on purpose. So that when the Anti-Trust people come a-knocking on their door they could honestly say "Ooo, no, we can't remove Internet Explorer, everything else depends on it". (IIRC, an example of what I often used to illustrate systemic flaws in MS' design philosophy).

  60. ChrisC

    The 4th urgent change I'd add to the list...

    Give SatNad his marching orders.

  61. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Dogfood

    MS need to dogfood their own product. They should be rolling out the updates across their entire infrastructure before letting them loose on the wider world. Imagine the s**t storm if Nadella walked into the dev team's building and said: "The latest update just deleted all my data"

    I heard a story about an email server product (now sadly passed away). The users kept on complaining that when they did certain maintenance tasks, the mailstore would get corrupted. In the end the product manager made the maintenance tasks run on the devs mailboxes every few days. The reliability went through the roof.

    1. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Dogfood

      That sound like a lot like the wishful thinking anecdotal "evidence" tends to be full of - why would one get upset with a (non-personal) mailbox going crazy, when the "sorry the dog ate it" plausible excuse it brings alone is worth the dev's weight in gold...?

  62. Lion
    Thumb Down

    now look what YOU made me do

    Microsoft has now responded to the criticism. The have just announced the Security Update Validation Program. Unfortunately it will not be an in-house QA group that will be testing the software. It will be a corporate insiders program made up of volunteers approved by Microsoft representatives.

    Microsoft is assuming that there is going to be a surge of volunteers (unpaid talent) from the IT community. The enterprise has a Jan 14, 2020 deadline looming so resources are tied up doing the migration from W7 to W10, adjusting to cloud services and managing financial processing. They also have to maintain their in house applications.

    Microsoft likes to have its cake and eat it too, so they have taken a poor decision and turned it into an opportunity. Shift the responsibility to those who benefit the most from a stable environment. It is also apparent that they are counting on not being held accountable if the corporate insiders do not report all their findings. If there are borks in the future, it's your fault.

  63. Sil

    Seems highly exaggerated to me.

    The data loss was for a very very small amount of people with a highly peculiar situation.

    Hp's problem is probably HP's fault.

    Yes, Microsoft, like probably everybody else, should increase the quality of the release. No, it's not the end of the world.

    Yes, you can't rely solely on insiders to do the testing. No, insiders 'usefulness is not limited to fandom. MS gets plenty of telemetry data, bug reports and feedbacks.

    We have many desks with the latest version since its availability, from Dell to Surface to custom-made machines, and zero problem.

    1. Cavehomme_ Bronze badge

      (Fr)Agile

      "you can't rely solely on insiders to do the testing"

      I can't see anyone proposing that. It needs both an inside testing department for the OS plus the external volunteers.

      Getting the OS right surely has to be fundamental, it's the building block of everything else. Using Agile on the OS is completely irresponsible, might as well rename it to Fragile for such a critical purpose.

      The Cost Accountants are ruining everything with their short-sighted, one-sided approach. I bet they'd soon change their tune if their Excel sheets were so full of bugs that their formulae and numbers were all wrong or crashed.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      No. An operating system that deletes user data is not fit for purpose. It is fatally flawed. It remains flawed even if yours was not the data deleted. Maybe the driver issue could become the ball in a game of blame tennis, but the data deletion issue is firmly in Microsoft's court, and it is not minor.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Can they PROVE it's strictly with the OS and not something third-party like a driver? For example, can they duplicate the data deletion in a vanilla install?

        It's times like this that I'm reminded of what I call "gestfaults": problems that are worse than the sums of their parts. Each component is tested and works perfectly in their own little world, but just put them together in just so and suddenly things go pear-shaped, and they ONLY do so when put together, so it's hard to test for gestfaults.

    3. JohnFen Silver badge

      "MS gets plenty of telemetry data, bug reports and feedbacks."

      None of which are adequate substitutes for a solid testing process, either.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Who says it's a substitute? They're two separate things. One makes them money, the other saves them money. Unless and until it costs more to do it than not do it, business sense tells them to keep going, and if this article is any indication, they're laughing all the way to the bank with their captive markets.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    W10 'Update'

    I've reluctantly bought a new W10 laptop (8gb, i3) within the last month (work software requires windows to access) and have been staggered with how slow it is - much slower than W7P on old Core2duo desktop. Had to resort to borrowing Macbook Pro for non windows work - much better than W10.

    If W7 still available from Microsoft I'd have bought it in a flash.

  65. Dun

    dun

    First want to point out. I'm just a basic user. I read all these sites to help me correct the many problems I'm faced with. Of people that have no idea how to learn to correct situations. All of the reading and insights to the many issues are very helpful! Aside from that, MS has always had these issues. From 3.1 to current win 10. Not one OS released has ever been completed. Think about it an "update" should mean a tweak to the current system in place. The problems from one version fell into the new version and has continued. To this day. 10 is a lot harder to deal with since it has taken away the right to read what is getting downloaded into your system. It decides when a patch or an update is going to be installed or when you will receive a new OS version . Even if you choose not to have it installed right in the middle of running a program. Preventing the owner who paid for it. Or "leased" it as its put now.

    AI is great if like the basic computer the human dictating the instructions knows what the out come will be. Just faster so to give it false information means you get failure 8x as fast. . . When you look at history. You have win95 and windows 2000 NT. Both were used for many years and allowed you to developed within both of them. Many of you started with these 2 systems as well as worked with both of them hand an hand. Something to be said for software that does not require the internet to make a system work. To get a patch or and update took very small amount of time. Win 10 cripples your system to do an update or a patch. If you own 10 you need a 2nd computer with another OS version so that you can continue to work. How is that intelligent? In win10 Its seen that all software for bells and whistles are 3 party software. No problem except that almost all of the software, devices, and other tools run in conflict with win10 if the license code has not been paid to MS. History, does MS take into account the past mistakes to make them better. For the current or do they keep repeating the same mistake and put a new shiny label on it. In the past the complaint was memory or drive size or chip speed. All of these challenges have been met. Still you have dos. Running the whole system. The memory is 12 x larger the drive has 12x as much space and the chips are 12x faster. Yet Win95 on 8 megs of ram and a 40 meg hard drive and a chip Pentium 3 or 4 still to this day works cleaner and looses nothing. No cloud, no internet needed. It seems the idea is so smart, its stupid now.

    1. Cavehomme_ Bronze badge

      Re: dun

      +10 votes from me.

  66. Technical Advisor

    You are expecting Windows to be for professional users only but most of the customer base is consumer and gamer oriented.

    You might be happier with Linux.

    1. Cavehomme_ Bronze badge

      MS really need to produce a genuine Pro / enterprise version for business users and a "Home" version for, well, home users. Yes, it's déja vue, but it's the only way forwards, to segregate these different groups properly.

      As a Pro user I don't need Candy Crush or 3D Paint crap FFS!!! I do need my Snipping Tool and Paintbrush, not removed nor "upgraded", I'll be the judge of what I need thank you MS. I use these tools several times a week, I need them.

      Same with Office 365, it's now become full of candy crap, stuff moving about or new style every few months. It's impossible to work in a predictable manner. Sticking the consumer market under Office 365 is sheer madness, MS really need to go back to producing an updated suite of MS Works, make it availble online, a nice and simple yet effective consumer solution, this time with file types COMPATIBLE with Office.

      All this "one size fits all" trend is utter nonsense and will piss off BOTH Pros and consumers! Horses for courses FFS!

  67. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    I think it's really going to be a trust issue soon

    "Hmm... do we bet our million dollar database data centre on Microsoft or Oracle?"

    "Who made Windows 10?"

    "Ah... Oracle it is then."

    Joking aside, it didn't take long for "nobody ever got fired for buying IBM" to fade into history, and the current "nobody ever got fired for buying Microsoft" is probably going to go the same way. Microsoft's really reliant on goodwill and the fact that there aren't too many competitors people are willing to trust. Give them too many more hiccups - CEOs suddenly finding themselves unable to work because Windows 10 updated itself and bricked their work PC, for example - and that trust and goodwill is going to start evaporating rather quickly.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: I think it's really going to be a trust issue soon

      EXCEPT the billion-dollar question remains: Where would they go?

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Silence of the Lambs - The Beancounters Cut

    "It rubs the money on my skin,

    Or else it gets the cattle prod again."

  69. Potemkine! Silver badge

    We will not install any new W10 version at least before waiting for 1 month during which no problem was reported.

    Because MS does not listen to users, ever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Pro version allows you to select any number of days delay right up to 365 days, mine is set at maximum now. Once bitten, twice shy. Ten times bitten, a thousand times shy.

      For security updates, mine is set at 7 days delay because MS can royally feck these up too.

  70. Florida1920
    Pint

    I used to hate QA

    They would do things to software no one in their right mind ever would. And blow it up. Then come to Tech Docs are suggest changes to the manual, to the effect of Don't Do That. Later in life I got into PC tech support and realized, people otherwise in their right minds are capable of doing anything. Viva QA!

  71. wizzbang

    I've never used or owned a Mac before, never thought about wanting to buy and use one as my main home computer - but the complete nonsense way that MS are treating Win10 and breaking it like this is a punishment to people for sticking with them.

    Edge and IE are barely useable in the modern Enterprise, especially VDI. The amount of Telemetry that needs to be disabled and pointless faffy applications that need to be removed to get a sensible VDI environment setup is maddening

    If MS charged a small amount per month, like an O365 subscription to be rid of the crap then I'd be up for that. But you don't get anything for free and with the amount of Telemetry in Win10 and lack of common sense updates and design approach - feels like i'm selling my sould and personal metadata to whoever MS resels and shares all this to

    If they carry on like this, I'll be ditching Win10 and getting a Mac

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm at the same point as you, after 30 years of sticking with MS, must be the Stockholm Syndrome affecting me, but now waking up and realising that I should escape from being locked up in the MS basement being abused there for way too long.

      Already have an iPhone after MS royally fecked up us Windows Mobile user, and an iPad after they withdrew their tablets. Now they are fecking me around with Windows 10, I should have stayed on 7. Three times fecked, goodbye MS, you had more chances than any sane person would allow you. I think I'll "Just Do IT"

  72. Someone Else Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Hear that, Micros~1?

    Andrew states, flatly:

    Windows 10 is officially a shit show.

    I am amazed by how much I agree with bombastic bob recently, but being in total agreement with Andrew is new territory, indeed. It is not bad territory, but it is unfamiliar....

  73. BGatez Bronze badge

    The real fix

    1. STOP rolling updates into one big pile of poo, allow selective updates

    2. STOP forcing installation of updates

    3. ALLOW users to remove whatever they don't want- Cortana, Edge, the ton of crap you foist on paying customers.

    4. STOP slurping customer info. Keep it ALL turned completely off by default. Offer a cookie if they'll turn it on.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: The real fix

      No, the ONLY real fix is to come up with a way to FORCE them to do the above...or simply cease to exist. The way the market is now, it's too captive for many people to just throw up their arms and leave. Until that happens...

  74. BaronMatrix

    Totally BROKEN...

    And people used to tell me I was being unreasonable when complaining about the quality... I used to be an STE and a junior SDET in Windows... They started the process of eliminating QA in 2002, after XP SP2....

    I don't agrtee with the author that testers don't run automation.. I ran TONS of automation suites provided by SDETs... I even wrote some and told management you can't fully test your own code as an SDET much less as a Windows dev...

    I put off an upgrade because Win10 was killing the laptop I had it on... Every other update was a breaking change.. Sometimes my USB would go out, others the NIC would stop working, some caused endless reboots...

    Yes, Windows 10 is Broken, borked, FUBAR, and many other negative things I can imagine...

    The worst thing is they still need Windows to develop Azure... Putting a phone UI on my 3 LCD workstation is an insult... I MAY eventually upgrade to an expensive Svr Standard so I can put off updates...

  75. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    "Never trust version .0 of anything. .0 or .1 if it's Microsoft"

    That was the advice I got when entering the WinTel world almost 30 years ago. People were complaining about being beta tester then.

    Yes, back in the day, Bill Gates was a crackerjack programmer. But when he took the role of CEO, he well and truly digested the cardinal rule of consumerism, "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence or taste of the American public."

    At first, businesses loved Bill Gates because he screwed IBM. By the time they realized who else was on the list, it was too late.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: "Never trust version .0 of anything. .0 or .1 if it's Microsoft"

      "Yes, back in the day, Bill Gates was a crackerjack programmer"

      No, he wasn't. He was an adequate programmer. What he really brought to the table was that he's a crackerjack businessperson.

      1. Richard Plinston Silver badge

        Re: "Never trust version .0 of anything. .0 or .1 if it's Microsoft"

        > No, he wasn't. He was an adequate programmer. What he really brought to the table was that he's a crackerjack businessperson.

        What he really brought to the table was his father who was a crackerjack lawyer and knew how to tie everyone up in contracts.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re. do a better job if it discarded a lot of software testers

    I thought it didn't, it just ubered the job and now all W10 customers do the job for free. Free soft, free testers, free enough! :D

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      ...just ubered the job...

      Citation needed.

      Specifically, you need to show that MS actually pay any attention to the feedback they get from these free testers. The evidence from the Insider program is that they don't, so it is not "free testing" but rather "no testing".

  77. TheSkunkyMonk

    Yup why bother paying people to test your product when you can get people todo it for free, same with the games industry as well just its called Early Access. Absolute joke and the practice needs to stop sadly the only way this will happen is if the kids stop parting with their cash for incomplete garbage and the chance to be the first...

  78. Claptrap314 Silver badge

    Time to post this again?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_lg7w8gAXQ

    1. steviebuk Silver badge

      Re: Time to post this again?

      I've seen him in videos on YouTube getting angry with his staff at times. Never knew he was like that. I wonder if in that video he was truly annoyed or it was part of his seemingly socially awkward side, so he didn't know how to react.

      1. Claptrap314 Silver badge

        Re: Time to post this again?

        Nah, he's pissed. There were a couple of obvious comebacks, but the peals of laughter from the audience were not going to let him do it. He was screwing the world, everyone knew it, and this was a rare place and time that he could be made to pay, even if only a little bit.

  79. Gudieve Ning
    FAIL

    Telling me!

    I have one of the best designed computers ever - an HP ZBook X2 G4 (https://picosm.com/993919352790). Shames Apple with it's clever modularity, Wacom pen (that doesn't require charging), awesome display, ergonomics, clever Bluetooth detachable keyboard, twin TB3 ports etc etc. However, Windows destroys it. 1. Awful confusing UX - damn, just trying to do a screenshot of part of the screen requires a 'Snipping' app with a 1980s UX. 2. Slows down a lot, despite having 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD, i7 8th gen etc etc. (And it's not HP's fault.) 3. Windows keep vanishing across my monitors.4. Crashes constantly, requiring a re-start. Etc. My 2017 MacBook Pro is a lot smoother and nicer to use except for the awful keyboard which is why I'm using the HP.

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge
      FAIL

      Re: Telling me!

      "1. Awful confusing UX - damn, just trying to do a screenshot of part of the screen requires a 'Snipping' app with a 1980s UX."

      You're wrong there, buddy.

      Snipping Tool is going to be deprecated soon, though it's still there. There are other ways of taking screenshots in Windows.

      PrintScreen button takes a full screen screenshot and places it on clipboard.

      Alt+PrtScrn copies the active window to clipboard.

      Win+PrtScrn takes full screen screenshot and saves it automatically in the documents folder.

      Win+Shift+S gives you a built-in snipping tool without a UI - the result goes to clipboard.

      "2. Slows down a lot, despite having 32GB RAM, 1TB SSD, i7 8th gen etc etc. (And it's not HP's fault."

      Slows down how? HP preloads several, rather useless programs in their computers, I wouldn't give HP a free pass that quickly.

      "3. Windows keep vanishing across my monitors. 4. Crashes constantly, requiring a re-start. Etc."

      Vanishes? I don't understand your problem.

      Windows crashes *very* rarely and you can usually point the crashes on either bad hardware or some bad drivers. Windows crashes ("BSOD") produce crash dumps which can be deciphered (to a degree) with the Blue Screen Viewer. I'd also check HP's support pages for your laptop.

      Of course, you're free to try Linux on that laptop and see if works better...

  80. IanMoore33
    Flame

    WINDOWS FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION

    It is INCLUDED IN THE PURCHASE PRICE .

    1. tygrus.au

      Re: WINDOWS FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION

      Windows 10 has so many parts that no one in Microsoft can understand how it all works together. Components and teams change so often that you can't keep up with the changes. The bowl of spaghetti just becomes bigger every year.

  81. DROP DATABASE

    well said

    Last update broke my system and lost me a days productivity. if there was any way to turn these shitty updates off I would do it instantly

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This just further cements my decision to ditch Windows and move to Linux.

    It started with Windows 8 and its horrible attempt to break into the mobile market.

    Instead of admitting their mistake, they sort of made a half-a$$ed attempt to fix their horrible UI but still ultimately went in the same direction. Now it's just an inconsistent mess.

    Then they added spyware to Windows 10, removed the users ability to control their own computer in several different ways, and broke people's trust with updates by pushing their GWX malware.

    Meanwhile, AMD came out with Vulkan, and really improved their open source Linux drivers.

    Then, people started developing things like DXVK, and then Valve threw their weight into it.

    Gaming on Linux was a joke previously, but now it's gotten legitimately good.

    Linux is just getting better, and Windows is just getting worse.

    1. Updraft102 Silver badge

      Then, people started developing things like DXVK, and then Valve threw their weight into it.

      DXVK is a game-changer, no pun intended. I've used it and seen Windows-like framerates where WINE alone would have them at half of that. I never liked Steam much in the past, given that among other things, it's a platform for DRM, but no other entity has done more for Linux gaming than Steam has, and now with their new commitments to the Linux platform, I am cheering them. Gabe Newell's comments about what MS is trying to do with Win 10 and the MS Store are spot on, and making a platform that no one company can ever control into a viable alternative to Windows is the best way to ensure that MS never accomplishes its goal of a captive, iOS-like walled garden for Windows.

      Steam, though, is only a gaming platform, so even though the same principles apply across the software spectrum (MS can't close up the walled garden if there is an alternative it can't exterminate), someone else will have to step up for non-games.

      Given that MS Office is the 800 pound gorilla of business applications, and that the company that develops it is the very same one trying to set up this walled garden, that seems unlikely, at least in the short term. If MS is truly serious about becoming a cloud company, which I think they are, they really should not have a problem offering a Linux version of Office that is on par with their Windows offerings. After all, Linux users can be customers of cloud services too, right? If it's all about the cloud, what difference does it make how one gets there? Linux users are not users of a competing platform-- they're potential cloud and application software customers.

      If that ever happened, it would be down the road a bit. Right now there's monetization to inflicted upon the Windows-using community, and MS very much wants all of those recalcitrant Windows 7 users to move to 10 to be monetized for a few years before they get fed up enough to overcome the barriers to leaving the Windows prison. Once the Windows-using community has been monetized and abused to the breaking point, only then can MS start being serious about Linux applications.

      I don't know that MS will ever do that, but it seems clear to me that they love the cloud and want Windows dead, but only after squeezing Windows users for all they can. Nothing else makes sense... it's not plausible that MS really thinks they can treat Windows customers like this and keep them long-term. Vendor lock-in will keep them in the line of fire for a while, but that won't last forever.

      It naturally follows that MS would offer a version of Office for whatever platform(s) take over after they leave the OS market.

  83. Updraft102 Silver badge

    What crisis?

    Wish I would have thought of this when the topic was new...

    "Three urgent changes Redmond must make to stop the QA crisis..."

    Microsoft: What crisis? Everything is working perfectly. Our beta testers caught all of the bugs before they made it to our valued customers. Nothing needs to be fixed; working as intended.

  84. steviebuk Silver badge

    They really need....

    ...to bring back the option for people to decide when they do updates and not force it on people.

    I like some aspects of Windows 10 but sticking with Windows 7 on my main home laptop at moment as I know everything works. But I do like using Windows 10 at work, but managing it is a bit annoying with all the crapware it includes. You remove with Powershell, only to discover a few days later some of the same crap has automatically downloaded and installed again.

    The ironic one, and the link maybe a shameless plug, is Edge when it claims "The fastest, safer way to get things done on the web." But it doesn't turn on site blocking by default, so as you can see, even though Chrome and Firefox blocked this phishing site, both IE and Edge let it through.

    https://youtu.be/kd_0O0aUBDk

  85. David Tallboys

    I've rejoined the Dark Side, dropped ubuntu installed Windows 10

    Sorry guys, I'm too dim to cope with ubuntu.

    A couple of years ago at someone's suggestion here I tried Linux. I bought a new Dell laptop which came with ubuntu 14 already installed - £200.

    All I used it for was some short documents and spreadsheets using Libre Office; and Firefox for browsing.

    It upgraded to 16 and I had a bit of aggro getting 2 printers to work - a Canon 3550 and an HP1102w.

    Last week it upgraded to 18 and after hours and hours of trying and following web advice I can't get the printers to work.

    I thought I would try a dual boot and used the Windows 10 usb I had and it installed within about half an hour (had to change some partition thingys) and both printers worked.

    Sorry Grub or sodu or whatever.

  86. hoola Bronze badge

    Aglie

    Two words for this "Agile Development", a sorry excuse for rushing out substandard, poorly tested software but everyone is happy because it is quick. The solution to the poor quality is to fix or the broken bits in the next sprint, this never happens as the result is just more broken bits and so the spiral goes on,

  87. zxc123

    Agree Windows 10 is nowhere near as good as 7.

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    To be fair the 'insiders' did spot the file deletion flaw but microsoft didn't listen.

  89. rmullen0

    Remote Desktop problems

    Is anyone else having problems with Remote Desktop after upgrading? I use the Windows 10 legacy Remote Desktop Connection application, not the Window Store one because historically I have found it to work better. After upgrading, I now have to try at least a couple times usually to connect from home to work. This is over a 80 Mbps Comcast connection. The problem is that it hangs on connection and I have to close the app and try again. I am hoping that Microsoft fixes this as I rely on this to work remotely. Luckily it has never completely got stuck like I have seen in Windows 7. Until this update, Remote Desktop has worked great on Windows 10. The other issue I've ran into is the Task Manager CPU usage being wrong.

  90. Jove Bronze badge

    User Error ...

    ... in using Windows in the first place. They have no one but themselves to blame.

    These people should be neutered to stop them breeding.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: User Error ...

      Even if there are no alternatives to the stuff they use everyday? OR if they're forced to by forces beyond their control (like, say, BOSSES)?

  91. fredj

    I would like to see a cost centre app which times and rports every users non productive windows time. I have been around since dos 2 and i have probably used a year of my life fighting their ++++++ OS. I am no ludddite. I worked mainly with scientific instruments and windows has been a fantastic resource BUT the time wasted is ublelievable.

  92. Frank Thynne

    Microsoft won't even hear

    I have tried to send the following message to the CEOs of Microsoft and Microsoft UK. It has fallen on deaf ears.

    <<

    I am astonished and deeply disturbed by Microsoft's current development and maintenance policies.

    Software Development is an Engineering Discipline. Yes, Creativity and Design are vital components, but Quality Assurance is every bit as vital. I believe that Microsoft must have enough employees who recognise this but regrettably they are not being heard, and the risks of dispensing with QA are terrifying.

    The attractive prospect of rapid development has left Microsoft blind to the limitations of continuous delivery and DevOps. DevOps is very good at producing working prototypes and demonstrations, but it encourages development teams to evolve requirements as a project proceeds. Those requirements therefore tend to match what has been developed and often do not include matters such as design limits, data protection, maintainability, and robustness in the face of user error and malicious attack. If a replacement product is being developed, poor specification can lead to features of the original products being forgotten and omitted or diminished. The inclusion of Quality Assurance in a DevOps team is a sound policy, but the approval of a product or a change must rest with a Quality Assurance function independent of the Design function.

    The consequences of inadequate Quality Assurance can be seen in practice. For example, many Windows 10 programs are inferior to their predecessors, new features are added while long-standing errors remain, programs fail without explanation or helpful error messages, updates are delivered that damage user settings and preferences, and insufficient validation of user input takes place. Community websites show huge numbers of dissatisfied users and a lack of support staff in Microsoft able to diagnose faults, let alone fix them. The advice, frequently offered, that a dissatisfied user should reinstall a product is not a solution -- it is an admission of defeat and product unreliability.

    Quality Management requires careful and precise specifications and robust test and measurement of prospective products and changes against them. It is as important in a software product as in a tangible product such as an aircraft, a car, a building or a bridge. It cannot be delegated to users. The QA team must have the capability to say "not fit" or "not ready" to the Chief Executive Officer regardless of marketing demands

    To diminish the Quality Assurance role in software development is dangerous to a development enterprise and to its user community. But there is enough evidence in Windows 10 of such a diminishing role to make me fear that Microsoft could be brought to ruin by unmanageable maintenance costs and lawsuits, and that the world's economy would be severely damaged as a result.

    The remedy? Put a properly constituted QA function in place. Allow it to require and look for reliability requirements in the design specification, to test against them, and block the work and release of new versions until all errors in all current versions have been corrected. Microsoft will recover its tarnished reputation if it does this, but will be cursed as a modern-day unreliable rust-box if it doesn't.

    >>

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