Roundup Feeling a little befuddled and out of sorts as your summer holiday comes to an end? That's nothing compared to confusion spilling from the Windows Insider team in this week's roundup of Microsoft news.
The merry-go-round of version numbering continued as Microsoft pushed out 19H2 (October's Windows 10) to the Release Preview Ring of the Windows Insider programme. Kind of.
Insiders on the Release Preview ring have been enjoying the May 2019 Update (aka 19H1, aka 1903, aka whatever-the-heck-they're-calling-it-today) up until now. As of last week, a lucky 10 per cent got a peek at build 18363.327 and the wonderful world of 19H2. Or 1909.
Insiders can check if they are one of the favoured few by "seeking" a new build (in other words, heading to Windows Update to see if something delightful has dropped from the Insider Team).
Eagle-eyed users will spot that Microsoft has bumped the build number from 19H1's 18362 in order to designate this a feature update (rather than just increasing the revision). The result is that Slow Ring users are on 18362 while lucky Release Preview people might now see 18363. Oh, but that Release Preview build of 19H2 doesn't contain everything in the Slow Ring.
As this point, the Windows teamsters might as well pick random words for the releases. We propose "Sprout" for 19H2. Better than last October's Windows 10, which quickly acquired "Turkey" status.
The word "fiasco" springs to mind when trying to describe the confusion dished out by the Windows Insider programme. Thanks to the legendarily terrible communication from the gang, there appears to be no end in sight for the increasingly put-upon volunteer testers on which the team depends.
But hey – ninja cats, right?
As if to rub salt into the wound, a few short days after dropping the build, a fix was hurriedly rushed out when it transpired that the SIM cards from some carriers weren't compatible and the thing blew up more than usual for a few lucky testers.
Cloudy Restores and taking the 8 out of Windows 10
Microsoft has also updated 20H1 for users in the Fast Ring.
In addition to the usual list of fixes (longtime watchers will be pleased to note that anti-cheat code is still causing problems), there were a couple of interesting features.
The first was the arrival of a new "tablet experience" aimed at users of 2-in-1 convertible PCs (a bit like the Lenovo 300e we looked at last week). It's an interesting move since the only place the original Windows 8 interface truly made sense was on tablets, and much of the design effort since has been about trying to undo the damage without admitting that maybe people would have liked to keep their Window 7 Start Menu.
The change tweaks the desktop to make it more useable for machines in a "tablet posture". Put simply, spacing between icons increases to allow for fat fingers and poking a text box should pop up an on-screen keyboard.
Sadly, as with all too many things, only a select group of Windows Insiders will get to take part. The rest of you will have to make do with cloudy restores.
Yes, the Cloud Restore option, which had been bumbling around the OS for a while, was activated last week. Rather than having to fumble for media or hope that no super-secret restore partitions have been deleted in the quest for more disk space, Windows 10 will now download and install a fresh copy of the currently installed version of the OS.
Handy when nuking from orbit as some Windows users find themselves having to do every now and again.
Naturally, all user data is wiped with this option.
Mac users may scoff at the late arrival of the function, although some Surface users have had something similar for a while. And, just to remind users that this is a preview, there are issues including problems with Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) and, wonderfully, the good old Windows Fax and Scan service.
Oh, and to ensure that Windows Insiders are properly baffled, the official Twitter orifice for the outfit warned that things would be just a little different for Skip Ahead testers.
Windows Insiders in Skip Ahead will see yesterday's update a little differently than Insiders in the Fast ring. Skip Ahead will first get Build 18970, and then they'll get the Cumulative Update Build 18970.1005 (KB4518974). Apologies for any confusion! https://t.co/TjmYCFQYK7— Windows Insider (@windowsinsider) August 30, 2019
The Windows 10 May 2019 Update wave is here!
Perhaps more a ripple than a wave, but according to ad slingers AdDuplex the latest public emission of Windows 10 is now on 33 per cent of PCs, up from 11.4 per cent in the previous month.
The figure is not wholly unexpected and has come mainly at the expense of users on the April 2018 Update (or 1803 in the increasingly hard-to-follow Windows 10 naming convention) as Microsoft warns users that their installed version of the OS is nearing the end of the line.
The Update of the Damned (aka the October 2018 Update or 1809) continued its slow decline to 29.7 per cent, but it was the drop in usage of 1803 from 53.7 per cent of users to 33.1 per cent that was most marked.
At the current pace of growth, the Windows 10 user base will be mainly 1903 and 1809. A few more months, and the torrid October 2018 Update will be merely a bad memory.
Hololens 2 is almost here! Er, maybe not...
There was discomfiture in the bowels of Redmond last week as Reuters noted comments from Vice President Harry Shum to the effect that the company's long-awaited second-gen augmented reality headset would ship next month.
Fans have been keen to get their hands on the gear since it was shown off at the Mobile World Congress event in February. Minds were subsequently focused by Microsoft killing off feature updates for the first-gen device last month.
With that in mind (and also considering that the Windows Mixed Reality headset market is looking a tad sickly at the moment), Alex Kipman's latest and greatest must be due any day now, right?
Alas, no. Microsoft was quick to distance itself from the report and would not confirm an availability date for the sought-after headwear.
The company does, however, have an event scheduled for 2 October where it is likely to show off some new hardware. Revealing a date then would make sense. Certainly more sense than shipping a badly borked operating system. ®