The other day I griped hard on Apple and its dubious tagline “the Epicenter of Change” for WWDC 15. And while the keynote devolved into a jumbled mess about the new Apple Music service, the rest of the keynote highlighted very few earthquake-metaphor-worthy elements. (Yes, this post is about Windows 10, too.)
Not Much Change to See Here
As I alluded, I recognize that this cycle of OS updates are more geared toward fit-and-finish and stability improvements–which are definitely necessary–but the features highlighted in the keynote are features already available on other platforms. The Notes App now allows handwriting? Okay, Evernote and OneNote have done that for years. (Also, doesn’t this pretty much guarantee a fully-implemented stylus input system, which was heavily resisted–and mocked–by Apple for a long time?) The Notes App now allows to-do lists and picture embedding? Okay, again, that’s been available on other platforms for years. Side-by-side multitasking on iPad Air 2 devices? Okay, that’s been a feature of Windows 8.x since its launch in 2012 (and it’s in Android, too) and you don’t need a $500 minimum device to use it. “Slide Over” to bring up a recently used app? Again, see Windows 8.x. Picture-in-Picture as a floating window on tablets? Okay, that’s somewhat newish, though Windows 10 allows Start Apps to run in windows even on tablets. Siri might become useful for something other than eliciting stupid-silly responses from a machine, a la Dr. Sbaitso? Okay, see Google Now and Cortana. There’s a new News App that aggregates your news interests? Okay, again, not new. Safari on OS X El Capitan now tells you which tab is making noise and allows you to pin sites? See Chrome and IE11 respectively. Apple Music is a streaming service that costs $9.99 a month for an individual, or $15.99 for a family of six? Well, I guess they needed to make one to compete, and there’s human curation, but at the end of the day, it’s a music streaming service like Spotify, XBox Music, Google Play Music, Tidal…. (And to think of how much has changed since 1994, compare these pictures:
…and then think about the weirdness that he became an exec at a tech company who was the punchline to a hurr-hurr joke: “Trent’s my vocal coach.” Okay, so, yeah, that’s a pretty big change.)
In any event, like I said, fixing the underpinnings to iOS is incredibly important and will hopefully make using the iPhone a less-frustrating experience. And the implementation of features that have been around for a long time will make the iPad a more compelling consideration for business users (though you still have the problem that getting documents and files on the device requires so many pointless and frustrating hurdles that could be easily addressed by having a USB or microSD slot). But this event was hardly anything approaching “change.” (And now that I think about it, for a revision cycle largely focusing on stability, why would you reference earthquakes and change…?)
Speaking of Frustrating
Windows Technical Preview Build 10130 is the most-recent build officially available for people in the Insider Program, and while I got it up and running on my laptop (albeit with quasi-crashy Intel video drivers which may or may not continue to be supported in the future), getting it to install on my wife’s laptop has been an exercise in frustration.
The easy way to do the upgrade is to allow it to download through Windows Update and install itself. This it would not do. Download progress would get to 22-25% and then fail unexpectedly. The second easiest way is to download the ISO (which has finally been made available) and put it on a bootable USB drive, which is how I installed the TP on her machine in the first place. Recall that that process was a breeze. Not so this time around. Putting the ISO on the drive was simple, but trying to boot from the USB created a boot failure right out of the gate.
Fine enough, I tried booting into Windows 10 and then upgrading from the USB. That process worked fairly well, until it got about 70% of the way completed, and then it all failed. Again, boot failures cropped up. Fine. I looked up the error code, saw that it had something to do with failed boots due to the presence of a USB device in a USB slot, and could see no way to install from a USB drive without having the drive in the slot. (Yes, I even tried copying the drive to the hard drive and installing from there, but unsurprisingly, that didn’t work.)
Well, great, I’ll just create a bootable DVD. That went fine for a while, until, again, about 70% of the way through the process, it gave up and reverted. Same boot failure, same error code, but this time, empty USB slots. Whatever. I gave up. I had already spent three evenings trying to install the dang thing, and the final version is supposedly coming in exactly 7 weeks.
Which, when you think about it: if Build 10130 is the most stable version Microsoft is willing to let us use, and it’s been 9 or 10 days since it came out (I know, I know), and it’s still not really a coherent product… Well, I just hope that Build 10500 (or whatever will be the final release) is secretly amazing. Because the last thing anyone in Redmond wants is a bunch of people asking “what the heck does Inaccessible_Boot_Device mean?!?!!?”)
That being said, I do think it’s notable that my wife would still rather use Build 10074 with it’s cludgy interface and super-crashy Project Spartan–declining to instal Chrome or Firefox as well–than use the Windows 7 partition. Windows 10 really is much faster, cleaner, and though the interface is somewhat different, it’s familiar enough for most uses. And that’s definitely saying something.