The World’s Most Predictable Tech Pundit, MG Siegler, notes that Microsoft has issued a major update (170 MB in size) to Windows 8. That update is being delivered 69 days after the release of Windows 8 to manufacturing and 17 days before its release to the general public.
Probably not the best sign in the world that Microsoft has to release service packs to the RTM version of Windows 8 before it has even launched. I mean, why declare RTM then? Well one possibility is that you’re working to meet a deadline rather than releasing when a product is fully baked.
Yes, heaven forbid that a major computing company should release an operating system and then release major updates in response to user feedback and telemetry from hardware partners. Wait. What’s that, you say? Why, yes, the golden master of OS X Mountain Lion, version 10.8 was released on July 9, and Apple released a major update, 10.8.1, on August 23, only 45 days later, to address a long list of issues.
And yes, there was another major update, 10.8.2, on September 19. That is 72 days after the operating system was released to manufacturing. That second update is a humongous 665 MB in size. It addresses a serious, widely reported power management issue. It is large enough that one might call it a service pack. Hmmm. What can we conclude from this example?
- If Microsoft delivers a 170MB update to its customers based on more than two months of feedback from enterprise customers and hardware partners, it is a sign of incompetence.
- If Apple delivers more than 700MB of updates in the same period of time based on complaints from its customers, it is awesome.
Welcome to Silicon Valley. PS: The Windows 8 update is available now and will be installed automatically if you have Windows 8 automatic updates turned on.
Oh my, this is fun. A response!
In other words, a month after its release, Apple patched some issues. And yes, this is normal for all software makers, obviously. What Apple did not do is patch the “finished” software prior to its release, which is what Microsoft is doing here.
Sigh. Perhaps we need to go back to “I’m a PC” school.
You see, MG, in PC-land, independent hardware partners build most of the PCs that are sold with a new Windows version on them. So when Windows is “released to manufacturing,” it goes to those OEMs, who get to integrate it with their own hardware designs.
Apple can do this in about 16 days (the gap between gold master and final release in Cupertino). The PC ecosystem takes longer than that.
To put it another way. Apple has developers and retail customers, period. Microsoft has developers, retail customers, enterprise customers, IT pros, consultants, IHVs, and OEM (PC and device) manufacturers.
A more complicated ecosystem, a different set of rules.
So when Windows 8 was released to manufacturing, it went to IT pros, enterprise customers, and OEM partners, who get to test the new OS in the real world. And based on that feedback, the OS developer releases patches.
This is the way big software companies like Microsoft and Apple both work. Beta testing goes only so far. Sooner or later you need feedback from real users. Every Apple customer knows about those first two service updates that fix the bugs that they released to the public. It’s not a big deal.
To summarize: Apple sold expensive hardware to the public and let those customers suffer with bugs until it finally fixed them two months later. Microsoft released its software to a knowledgeable group of professional customers and incorporated their feedback and telemetry into the product before it was released to the general public.
I’m trying to figure out why this is a bad thing.