Tim, I couldn't agree more. This extreme unreliability and these constant highly disrupting forced updates are the main reasons I broke with Windows. Under these conditions, I can't imagine ever working again with Windows on my own production system. This is sad to say for someone who has been a Microsoft fan boy since the early days of MS DOS and who has received 9 Windows MVP awards.

Michael Pietroforte

Michael Pietroforte is the founder and editor in chief of 4sysops. He has more than 35 years of experience in IT management and system administration.

The fact that Microsoft uses customers as guinea pigs to test software is outrageous. The entire Windows Insider program is a joke. Microsoft abuses the pride of IT pros, calling them "insiders" to work for Microsoft without paying them.

Just look at the diagram below. How can Microsoft call a deployment to hundreds of millions of users a "pilot"?

Customers as guinea pigs: Windows as a service: (with "courtesy" from Microsoft)

Customers as guinea pigs: Windows as a service: (with "courtesy" from Microsoft)

What makes things worse is that many third-party software makers for Windows have adopted this strategy. The entire Windows ecosystem has changed for the worse since Microsoft chose this low-quality path.

It is fascinating to see that it works the other way around in the Apple world. Updates are relatively rare because Apple takes quality serious and ensures that software works from the beginning and not just after the third or fourth update as it is now the case with Windows. And It is not just that Apple's own operating systems and applications are a couple of magnitudes more reliable and thought-through than Microsoft's.

Third-party software makers for macOS have adopted this high-quality model because they know that Apple customers wouldn't accept anything else. What surprised me the most when I moved from Windows to macOS a couple of years ago is that third-party software is more advanced, thought-through and most importantly much more reliable in the Mac ecosystem. The main reason why I now work on a Mac is software, not hardware. I don't exaggerate when I say that my productivity has been boosted and my user experience skyrocket by dumping Windows (and recently Outlook for the same reasons.) Quality is of tantamount importance when it comes to the tools you use at work, no matter if you are workman, an office worker or an IT pro.

I have been wondering for quite a while why Microsoft is desperately pushes untested updates on customer PCs. I think the main reason is that Nadella and high-ranking managers worry very much about Windows adoption. Ever since the release of Windows Vista, many consumers and businesses very reluctantly adopted new Windows versions. The solution was simply to force upgrades and updates on customers, thus creating Windows as a service.

This puts high pressure on engineers because it forces them constantly to release new updates at a high pace to justify the service model. The results are half-baked new features nobody really needs and a highly unstable operating system. The main reason Nadella had to significantly reduce quality control that Tim mentioned is because quality control slows down the update pace.

The main advantage for Nadella and his Windows managers is that they no longer have to prove their performance because there are no new Windows versions anymore, so Microsoft's customers can't vote with their purchases. However, the long-term effects for Windows are devastating. Without real feedback in terms of sales numbers tied to innovation of concrete new releases, the Windows platform will get weaker and weaker.

It is only a matter of time until a competitor will exploit this weakness and seriously challenge Windows on the desktop. Microsoft was once the undisputed king in the OS market. Since 2015, Microsoft is with Windows only third behind Google and Apple in terms of device shipments. This shows that wrong strategic decisions at the top can break a monopoly. If this doesn't encourage Microsoft's competitors, I don't know what will.

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31 Comments
  1. Chris 11 months ago

    I'm with you, they are drastically causing loss of data and down time to business customers.  Its to bad there isn't a customer on par with MS.  Yes, there is Apple but I don't consider them near MS level.  I wish we could do what most of Germany has done and just turn to Linux and give MS something to think about.  Only time will tell, hopefully they will turn it around and see what bad PR this update method is giving MS.

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      Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

      Chris, thanks for commenting. What do you mean with "near MS level"? As to Germany, I don't know where you got this information. Germany is as dominated by Windows as the rest of the world. Maybe you mean the city of Munich. They moved 20,000 desktops to Linux and the project was as disaster. They spent a lot of tax payer money for the transition and now they are going back to Windows.

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      • Chris 11 months ago

        MS level as in, being what I consider the leader in OS's.  and yes I was referring to Munich my apologies.  Apple is an alternative like the Google OS but I don't see an OS just yet that's equal in dominance, features and available software just yet.  But the way that MS has been treating their customers with the way they release updates makes me just want to go to something else, Ubuntu, Linux (Still not quite MS).  Just my two cents on things.  And thanks for the article, you raise a lot of good points.  One last thing, I always thought MS had sign up beta testing program as in, I WANT to be a tester, not just hey do me a favor and see if these updates  deletes half your work data?

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          Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

          MS is no longer a leader in the OS market. Check the Wikipedia article I linked to. They are only third now after Google and Apple. MS still dominates the desktop market because no other company seriously challenged Redmond on this turf. But the fact that MS totally lost the mobile market shows how weak their engineering in the OS field has become.

          Linux is great as a server system, but on the desktop the open source OS miserably failed. Try a Mac for a while. You will be surprised what low level OS Windows has become.

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          • Rafal 11 months ago

            I tried MacOS. And I will rather stay with Windows 10. I agree that what MS is doing is very wrong, but on the other side I find Apple as brand for snobs (it's really very expensive here in Europe). Google will take over, because it's the only company of those 3 that is not focused mainly on US market.

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              Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

              Apple is expensive everywhere and their profit margins are insane. But this shows that high-quality as a business model works well in IT.

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            • Paolo Maffezzoli 11 months ago

              My 2 cents about Apple Vs Microsoft discussion, read the IBM experience in this article : Total cost of ownership: Mac versus PC in the enterprise

              Any organization serious about managing and securing Windows will need to add additional software and tools to the cost of their cheap PC, as opposed to having those features built into the operating system with Mac. Finally, when you add on the cost of management tools and support, the total cost of ownership gap can potentially be huge for an organization. In fact, IBM found they saved between $273 - $513 per Mac they deployed compared to PCs.

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                Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

                Yeah this is exactly the point. I have no doubt that IBM saves a lot of money by working with Macs instead of Windows. Plus they have end users who feel that their employer wants to give them the best tools available. This is a huge motivation factor in organizations that work with Macs. And because it is much more fun to work on a Mac, employees are much more productive.

                The problem is that there are so many Windows admins out there who just want to stick with what they know and never seriously consider other options.

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                • Paolo Maffezzoli 11 months ago

                  yes, it is correct. A new environment  or different operating system could be a problem, unless you're already prepared. In any case for a migration project it is necessary to invest in training. Training is not an option in this case.

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  2. Bruce Gavin 11 months ago

    This is exactly the reason why I keep my business clients on Win7.

    My clients use computers to run their business operations.  They are not interested in debugging Microsoft's Latest and Greatest attempts to look like a cell phone.

    It is said that Win10 is like your favorite hardware store:  everything is still there, but the doors, shelves, and labels are constantly rearranged.

    IMO, there is no compelling reason to tolerate the non-removable UAC nanny, the constant in-your-face Windows Store and all the rest of the marketing crap present in Win10.

    Microsoft continues to miss the boat by ignoring the flexibility of Linux.
    Users who want the fru-fru stuff, games, etc can configure it.
    Those who want a pure business machine without the nanny and bundled baloney, can configure that as well.

    My efforts to disable the nanny and remove the tracking and marketing devices was mostly futile.  These are embedded very deep in Win10, and disabling or uninstalling them breaks Win10 in strange ways.

    I found the easiest way to get around all this bother is by ditching Win10 and going back to Win7.  My clients agree.

    Do not forget, Microsoft is first and foremost a marketing machine.  They (and Adobe) have rediscovered the old IBM "leased product" revenue stream concept.  They count on fanboys needing the "latest and greatest" and their willingness to subscribe and pay for this.

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      Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

      My clients use computers to run their business operations.  They are not interested in debugging Microsoft's Latest and Greatest attempts to look like a cell phone.

      Really had to laugh. You hit the nail. I think it is fair to say that this entire modern app system (or however MS calls it this week) is one of the biggest failures in OS history.

      The problem with Windows 7 is that sooner or later you won't get security updates. And then? What will you do? You don't want to run a notoriously insecure OS without security updates. Do you?

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  3. Ruben Zimmermann 11 months ago

    Guys, I'm feeling and seeing the same as you do. Dropping quality for sake for speed.
    I think many people absolutely don't get the idea of DevOps. It's about increasing reliability, security and stability by introducing steps that can be safely automated.

    UAT and personal feedback loops are things that can't be automated. Also thinking of all 'agile' theories, SCRUM and so forth. After a small sprint a functionality is added and stakeholder needs to approve. If there are concerns, back to start 🙂

    I dislike WAS and frightened that this model will come to servers, too. I still see fantastic new software that runs as windows-console application based on WinForms. 🙂

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      Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

      You are right. I really don't envy DevOps engineers who have to work with Windows clients these days. If you build applications with the limited resources of an organization which core business is not software, you need a stable environment more than anything else. Imagine your deploy your new application and next morning the entire network is down. Who will all end users (and admins) blame? You with your application or the untested "patch" that Microsoft forced on your network last night? Considering that everyone knows about your application and nobody knows about the buggy patch, you can make your bet.

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  4. Paolo Maffezzoli 11 months ago

    Yes, that's the fact "need a stable environment ". This one is exactly the target of every enterprise. No further risks caused by OS unstable, unreliable or in permanent beta testing in a production environment.

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      Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

      Yeah "permanent beta test" describes Windows as service accurately. Microsoft no longer releases a final version and instead moves from beta to beta. Even if you are in a broad deployment ring, you always have new code in your systems which can cause all kinds of compatibility issues. Thus, the problem is not just that Microsoft releases essentially untested software to the public. Even if you receive code that has been "debugged" by Microsoft customers, you always have to face new compatibility issues in your specific environment.

      In my view, the whole idea of delivering an OS as a service is complete nonsense.

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  5. mcLays 11 months ago

    Michael, I certainly adore your blogs, please don't cross MS, they go the right way.
    Guys, you are getting old, this is a new world, please accept it, we can't stay where we are. It's an absolutely brilliant way to go forward and how to be agile and safe these days.

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      Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

      mcLays, thanks! I don't have a problem with MS in general. I think they are doing a great job in the cloud.

      I don't think that software as service is a new thing. We already had this in the mainframe era and the model also makes sense in the cloud. However, it does not makes sense at all for an on-prem OS. If you offer an OS as a service you also have to deploy the OS and do the troubleshooting if problems come up. But dumping unfinished code on admins and then "listen" to their "feedback" is certainly not brilliant. Microsoft is severely damaging the Windows brand this way. This much I can tell from the feedback we receive here on 4sysops.

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  6. Miroslav Katic 11 months ago

    a lot of trash talk here. oldies living in stone age that doesn't want to learn something new, or blind isheeps. I'm administrator in company with ~3000 pc's, 2/3 of them on win10. without any significant problem (al least not visible to majority of users) last 3 years. if you are having problem with win10, you are source of the problem, not win10. you don't possess necessary knowledge and you don't dive deeply enough into win10. you didn't learn something you had to learn. you should be retired and maybe you'll be more successful in growing plats. for those who want to learn something new and successfully manage win10 fleet, one quick tip:  configmgr is everything you need to keep yours pc's stable and reliable.

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    • Ruben Zimmermann 11 months ago

      I think most don't trash Windows 10 in general. I personally like it. - I also used Windows 8 on my private computer without feeling shame 😉

      Which "version" (LTSB, CB, CBB, ... ) of Windows 10 are you using Miroslav?

      In case you use one of the later ones I would feel interested on how users respond to UI changes and new features.

      4Sysops is platform that gives chance to share knowledge and learn from each other - in a respectful manner.

      I'd love to read your hints about running WAS in a 3000 pc environment. ^_^

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      • Ruben Zimmermann 11 months ago

        Miroslav, one more addition: I don't like 'as a service' for operating systems, but there are other fields I think it make sense, e.g. Exchange Online.

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        Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

        Ruben you are right. Compared to Windows 8, Windows 10 has been doing well in terms of adoption. However, I feel that MS is gambling away this success with their aggressive update policy. This is the feedback I am receiving from readers. Just look at the comments of this article where I explained how to disable Windows 10 update. And this is just one of the many articles I wrote about the topic. The reader reaction is always the same. Microsoft keeps blocking all workarounds I find because they desperately need to deploy their buggy updates.  Meanwhile I gave up because I am really tried of Windows.

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      Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

      Miroslav, I am glad that Windows works well in your environment. However, this doesn't mean that Microsoft low-quality approach works for all organizations. This really has nothing do with knowing how to manage Windows. If you deployed buggy updates in your network you are screwed no matter how "deeply you dived into Windows."

      Just follow the news here on 4sysops. There is not one week where MS has to stop deploying or withdraw an update because of severe bugs. And rest assured that this is only top of the iceberg. I know from my own experience with Microsoft's support that most severe bugs are never published.

      And thanks for the tip about configmgr. Is that the new thing you just learned?

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  7. Evgenij Smirnov 11 months ago

    What I would absolutely love to see one day is a level playing field in terms of quality assurance between Apple and MSFT. Not talking about usability or prettiness here, just quality of the OS. Because Apple software has, from its very inception, only had to support ONE line of hardware devices, incidentally one they have 100% control over.

    What could a Microsoft equivalent look like? Two separate Windows versions: One for their Surface devices (only supporting the last 3 years of them) and another for everything else. And the Surface version would only have those features, drivers etc. in it that you can actually use on a Surface. No more plugging in weird stuff just because it has a USB plug, either. THEN Microsoft engineers would be able to show their excellence - or fail trying 😉 Until then, any comparison just isn't fair on them.

    That scenario would be sort of what we have in the Android world. You want an enterprise ready Android implementation, you need a SAMSUNG device, period. Sure, Android will run on almost everything else but it's frustrating to say the least (my SONY Xperia actually runs pretty well but I'm not doing anything enterprise-like with it so doesn't count).

    What's the alternative, then? If you do have to support like several billions of devices sporting tens of millions of individual hardware and software configurations, you'll end up having to have millions of beta testers. And that's *exactly* what Microsoft is doing. Not trying to get anyone to like the idea but simply acknowledging the fact that Microsoft's current supportability policy doesn't leave much room for any other scenario.

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      Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

      I previously believed the same thing. Having the choice between many different hardware manufacturers comes at the price of less stability. However, hardware drivers are not the only problem. The main problem is Microsoft. The Windows and Office division are extremely careless. As I mentioned in other comments. Just follow the news. It is really a mess. Or look at the diagram I posted. Microsoft deliberately uses customers to debug their software. Do you think this is okay? Microsoft abuses once more its monopoly.

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  8. Mike Kanakos 11 months ago

    I'd like to believe that the truth is somewhere between what Evgenij and Michael have laid out. For me, I have been and probably always be a windows guy. It's what I grew up working on and what I support today. I have adjusted to the Microsoft way. The flexibility of the OS and the wide support make it worth dealing with the lack of quality in some areas that has plagued them of late.

    Mac and to a smaller extent, Linux do have an advantage over Microsoft because they have less hardware to support so, in the case of Apple/MAC, they flat out do a better job. Linux has never done a great job but they do have fewer combinations of hardware that they support. But that's also their detriment; they don't have this huge field of interoperability with other computers. It could be argued that is what helped Microsoft win its dominant position in the market. I know this is a simplistic view, but it is true to some extent.

    So... my point is that Microsoft has a tougher time as Evgenij argues, but Microsoft hasn't helped themselves either. I believe the testing schedule that Microsoft puts forth could work IF they didn't get rid of all the testers that used to catch the lion's share of problems before they ever reached the general public. I think this is the real root cause as to why the quality of software patches coming out now have been of lower quality.

    Microsoft has always tested their product on its' users to some extent, and I am not sure with the scale they deploy to and the breadth of hardware that works with Windows that there is any other way. The real problem is the quality of the patches that get released to that first ring. If their software was better coming out of the gate, then the problems felt by end users would be less noticeable and probably not be as frustrating.

    I do think that as a whole, Microsoft is a better company since Satya Nadella took over. The patch issues are mostly about the speed of innovation. If they dialed it back just a few notches, they would still be innovating quickly but would also have time to do more quality control, assuming they have enough resources to do quality control.

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      Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

      Mike, I agree that the wide hardware support is one of the reasons why Windows is less stable than macOS. However, for me the main problem is Microsoft's attitude with regard to quality. The fact that Microsoft's management could come with this idea of using customers for debugging their software shows that this way of thinking is deeply rooted in Microsoft's DNA. I could write a book about this, beginning with the first BASIC version that Bill Gates and Paul Allen hacked together for the Altair. It was full of bugs and they were very proud that they could sell it anyway. Ever since this approach has become a part of Microsoft's DNA.

      It is quite obvious that Apple follows a completely different approach here. And because Linux is much more stable than Windows we have proof that flexibility does not rule out stability and security.

      For my entire IT career I essentially shared your opinion. However, when I more or less accidentally stumbled on macOS a few years ago my eyes were opened. I didn't touch a Mac for many years until then because I also believed flexibility is most important.

      Little did I know what a powerful ecosystem the Mac world has become. This has nothing to do anymore with the oversimplified OS I worked with at the beginning of my IT career. All applications I use now for my work are a magnitude or two better than the Windows counterparts. To be fair, I needed a year of daily work on a Mac to become convinced.

      And as to hardware, I don't really need flexibility here. Apple is doing a fine job and I don't need to waste much time with tinkering what hardware I should buy. I simply can rely on Apple on getting it right. This alone saves a lot of time and money.

      It is fair to say that I lost a lot of productivity by sticking with Windows much too long.

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  9. Luc Fullenwarth 11 months ago

    So far I can remember, there have always been beta version publicly available beside official releases.

    I understand that Microsoft needs as many "tester" as possible because it's the only way to have as much as feedback as possible, especially with a lot more heterogeneous hardware than what they can internally have.

    If you don't want to be part of this "tester" population, just stick to the LTSB.

    As per Microsoft says:

    "Microsoft never publishes feature updates through Windows Update on devices that run Windows 10 Enterprise LTSB. Instead, it typically offers new LTSC releases every 2–3 years, and organizations can choose to install them as in-place upgrades or even skip releases over a 10-year life cycle."

    https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/deployment/update/waas-overview#long-term-servicing-channel

    If your environment is stable and you don't want new features, keep it for 10 years!

    If you want new features, take the risk 🙂

    It's not realistic to want to have both...

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      Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

      Luc, first of all, MS doesn't miss an opportunity to trash talk Windows LTSC. However, the main problem is that LTSC is only an option for a small number of organizations because you need volume licensing and Software Assurance. It is therefore only an option for large organizations. However, the vast number of businesses are small and mid-sized. Most Windows PCs run on SMBs and on consumer PCs.

      Why doesn't Microsoft offer LTSC for small businesses and consumers? The message is clear: "If you are big and powerful, we listen to you and do what you want. But if you are small and powerless we do with you what we want and force our buggy code on to your computers. That way we can ensure that our big customers get "relatively" stable code after you debugged it for us."

      This is the core strategy of Windows as a service.

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  10. NSHQ 11 months ago

    Back in 2014-15 many of us computer science veterans were warning about this, but we were ignored or (worse) mocked, ridiculed, or told to "sit down old man, Windows 7 is a relic..."

    MS pretended 8 was just our imagination, and tried to assuage us with the start -button- (not menu) in 8.1. When MS reluctantly revived the Start Menu in Windows 9/10, I signed up for the 'Insiders Program'... within 2 weeks, I knew Windows 10 would become a long sorry saga. QA/QC was dead. Twenty years of UI/UX paradigm? Tossed out a Window. Then they gave us frames, borders, colors, and icons created by an untalented 5 year old.   It was clear the clowns who gave us Metro were not listening, so I withdrew from being an unpaid alpha tester. In an MS forum, I stated insiders were alpha testers, and the public would be beta testers... the MS fan-boys were apoplectic at such a suggestion, and insisted MS and Nadella (etal) "would never do such a thing."  HA!  Anyone paying attention would agree this has been precisely the case.

    In 2016, I tried 10 in a VM and removed it 3 days later, not even worth the VHD space. I tried LTSB on a bare-metal installation... after a week, I reinstalled Windows 8 RP on that machine.

    IMO, Agile & SCRUM need to SCRAM!  Monolithic projects such as Windows 10 suffer by it, and we're seeing their 'results'.  October 2018 update anyone? November?  Windows 2020?

    I've been happily working with Window 7 & 8.1 (with Classic Shell) for the past 4 years.  No reinstalls, no botched patches, no forced updates, no freezing, and not wondering "WTF?!"

     

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      Michael Pietroforte 11 months ago

      I think you need to try Windows 10 a little longer than 3 days. If you worked with it for more than a year, tried really hard to create a stable work environment and failed miserably, then you have an opinion and not just prejudice. I can't imagine working again with a hopelessly outdated OS such as Windows 7 and 8.1. As an IT pro you want to be cutting edge. That is why there currently is only one desktop OS that makes sense for IT pros and that is macOS.

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