Why Rapid-Fire Updates are the Key to Microsoft's Success
Microsoft's adoption of a continuous development cycle may not sound impressive, but it heralds a more responsive era of computing.
Wed, April 03, 2013
PC World — Ask five geeks about Windows 8s greatest flaw, and you're bound to get five different answers. Some diss the new Start screen. Some hate the big hole where the Start button used to be. Others rail against the indignity of having to swipe open a Charms bar to print or search for anything. And what's with those Microsoft Accounts?
But you know what the biggest problem with Windows 8 is? Its just too much new at onceand it absolutely had to be. Traditional Windows development was so glacial, so grossly slow and lumbering, that the original iPad hadn't even been released when Windows 7 saw the light of day. So Microsoft was forced to play a massive game of catch up with Windows 8, or risk falling behind the eight ball forever.
That won't happen again.
Microsoft is ditching the lethargic release schedule of past years and shifting to a continuous development cycle focused on releasing ongoing rhythm of updates and innovations. The move to smaller, more rapid updates is a gigantic change for Microsoftand its a change that holds earth-shaking implications for the entire PC ecosystem.
Lets peer into the future, folks.
Faster, better, cheaper
Well start simple. As PCWorld detailed when the first whispers of the Windows Blue update hit the Web, a move to regular, rapid updates could introduce several significant benefits for end users, aka you and me.
First, they shouldnt hurt your wallet as much. More frequent updates should be cheaper updates. (Check out the sticker cost of Apples OS X tune-ups for an example.) Rather than dropping $100 to $200 on a whole new Windows operating system every three years, you may end up dropping $30 to $50 annually for access to the latest tweaks and features. Who doesnt like cheap stuff?
Microsofts en masse transition to a continuous development cycle also means more frequent updates for the companys vast software family, from Windows to Office to other apps and services. The steady jog of updates thats required to keep pace with innovation means Microsoft can deliver new features and design tweaks to Windows users digital doorsteps in much shorter order (and in much smaller doses) than before.
The future is incremental, not revolutionary. There will be no more grand, Windows 8-esque ripping of the UI Band-Aid. Instead, there will be baby steps.
Were already starting to see fruits from Microsofts developmental refocus. A recent update to Windows 8s Mail, Calendar, and People apps added much-needed functionality to the operating systems core communication software in the form of a subtle, yet welcome interface streamlining. An early build of Windows Blue recently leaked to the Web as well, and buried deep within its Live Tiles were several nifty tweaks that quell some of the initial concerns revolving around Windows 8s new modern UI.