Is Microsoft finally getting its Windows update act together?

Microsoft is reconsolidating its Windows team and maybe, just maybe, we'll finally see Windows patches we can install without praying first.

Microsoft Windows update cycle arrows with overlay a laptop and mobile phone.
Microsoft / IDG

Updating Windows has become a bad joke. I can install three Linux distributions in the same time it takes me to make a single serious Windows upgrade. And, when I'm done with the Linux installations, I know they'll work. With Windows? You're taking your computer's life in your hands with even a Patch Tuesday security update.

As Computerworld's resident Windows wizard Woody Leonhard points out, unless you want to be an unpaid Windows beta tester, never let Windows automatically patch your system. For more than three years now, upgrading Windows has just meant asking for trouble.

But now there's hope.  First, back in February, Microsoft added Windows to Surface top dog Panos Panay's portfolio. Getting Microsoft's PC and Windows groups on the same side promised better hardware support.

Well, that's what we hoped anyway. But after June 2020's Windows 10 cumulative updates fouled up network printers, I wasn't so optimistic.

More recently, Windows maven Paul Thurrott reported that Microsoft is fixing one of the company's biggest mistakes: Breaking up the Windows 10 development team between the Azure team for core operating system development and another for everything else – like, you know, apps, new features, etc.

Worse still, after this move Windows 10 didn't even get a seat at the big kids' table. As I've said before, and I'll say again, Windows as a standalone desktop operating system no longer matters much to Microsoft. But, please, can't Microsoft at least fix the perpetual Windows patch dumpster fire?

Pretty please? With sugar on top?

So, we'll see. Microsoft is putting the Windows team back together again under Panos Panay’s rule. According to a Panay memo, Microsoft is returning Windows to "a single strategy and ownership across the business end-to-end.” Specifically, that means there will be a new Windows, Developers and Experiences (WDX) Engineering team, which brings the Windows Experiences and Developer Ecosystem Platform teams together.

The Windows 10 band isn't completely re-forming. Windows' core engineering will stay under Azure. Why? Because, I'll say it again: Windows' real future, as it has been for some time, is Desktop-as-a-Service (DaaS).

At least Panay is saying the right things. "Windows is a partnership," he said. "Innovation and success are only possible through close collaboration with other teams across Microsoft."

And, it's certainly nice that Panay is a big wheel in Microsoft. When he talks, people will listen.

But, and it's a big but, I really would rather have had everyone on the same team. Windows 10 is a huge, messy project. It carries decades of history – good and bad – with it. To clean it up properly requires unity, expertise and enthusiasm.

I get it. I know by this time next year Microsoft will be pushing Windows Virtual Desktop as your main "desktop." But, could we at least, put fixing the Windows we have today on the front burner? We don't really need more new features. We just need a Windows desktop we can rely on working after we fixed the latest security bugs.

Is that too much to ask for?

Copyright © 2020 IDG Communications, Inc.

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