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Windows 10 no longer launching on July 29 for vast majority of people

Microsoft's used car salesman approach to selling Windows 8

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When AMD accidentally leaked that Microsoft would launch Windows 10 this summer, it surprised a number of people. Even at the time, midsummer was near enough to seem unlikely, particularly given how badly Redmond bungled Windows 8. Microsoft later confirmed that the date was genuine, however, and has been riding hell for leather to finish the OS in time to make the ship date. Now, the company has given notice that the July 29 date is more of a guideline than an actual hard launch.

Terry Myerson has the details over at the Windows 10 blog. Microsoft hasn’t given manufacturers a final build yet (what’s known as the Released to Manufacturing build, or RTM). This is the build that you’d typically buy in stores or download. Then, Microsoft will distribute a build to retailers, to help them “assist their customers with upgrades of newly purchased devices that were originally imaged with Windows 8.1.” That’s a little odd, since MS typically has just one RTM, but fine.

Here’s where things take a left turn: “Starting on July 29, we will start rolling out Windows 10 to our Windows Insiders. From there, we will start notifying reserved systems in waves, slowly scaling up after July 29th.” That’s entirely opposite from Microsoft’s initial statement on the topic. When Redmond first announced the July 29 launch date, it said: ““On July 29, you can get Windows 10 for PCs and tablets by taking advantage of the free upgrade offer, or on a new Windows 10 PC from your favorite retailer.”

Why launch Windows 10 this way?

If we had to guess, we’d bet Microsoft is launching Windows 10 in staggered fashion because the OS simply isn’t ready. Microsoft will roll the product out to Windows Insiders first, because they’ve already signed up for beta testing. Similarly, it can begin shipping the OS out on qualified hardware because Dell, HP, and Asus will have done the necessary testing to make certain that drivers and hardware are all ready for the new operating system.

The fact that retailers are getting a separate version of the OS than the manufacturers further implies that compatibility is the sticking point here, as do Myerson’s comments that shoppers should “Look for this sticker for assurance that our OEM partners have proactively tested a device for compatibility with Windows 10.” Finally, Microsoft will update customers in waves to tell them when they can download Windows (this, apparently, is what that Windows Update was for a few months back).


The upshot of this is that Microsoft almost certainly mistimed its own launch, and not will have to do a staggered rollout to deal with compatibility and driver support rather than just shipping the OS in the first place. Granted, those of us getting a copy of the OS for free probably don’t have too much room to complain, but the uncertain timeline, the total lack of information regarding which hardware or devices might not be compatible at launch, and the backtracking all leave a bad taste in our mouth.

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