Are all non-Enterprise Windows 10 users beta testers ?
While most Windows 10 machines probably run fine after updates have been installed, there is a growing number of reports of update related issues.
This ranges from non-critical issues to issues that send the device in a never ending install and reboot cycle, or worse.
Some systems are still plagued by freezes and disappearing drives for instance. This started as early as August, and while some of it has been fixed by now — the freezing SSD issue appears to be fixed — it is still not corrected completely.
It is also fairly common that updates hang, and may take hours or even longer to complete. Last but not least, updates may not complete and Windows 10 may restore a previous system state when that happens.
This happened to users just recently who tried to install the cumulative update KB3194496. The issue was caused by the Xbox Live Game Save scheduled task, even on systems where Xbox Live or gaming is not used at all.
Even if you put Windows 10 Insider Builds aside — you should as those are clearly preview builds that should not be used in production environments — you will still notice numerous bug reports for each update that gets released for stable versions of the operating system.
Microsoft ships updates as cumulative updates. This means that a single large patch is provided that includes all the updates for components of the operating system.
While cumulative updates may speed things up, they make troubleshooting that much harder as you can only remove the whole update when something breaks after installing it. Previously, you could simply remove the offending update after finding out which one it is. This seems to have worked so well for Microsoft that the company pushed the system to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 as well recently.
If that would not be enough bad news, Microsoft made it a lot harder to block updates from being installed automatically. In fact, if you run Home or Pro, you get little options to control if and when updates get installed on the system.
While Pro users may defer updates, deferring only applies to updates that Microsoft does not consider critical. This means that all security updates will be installed right away even if the defer updates option is enabled. Home users don’t even get that option.
Also, Pro users may defer quality updates for up to 30 days only, and feature updates for 180 days.
The Group Policy Editor, not available on Home editions, provides a couple of other update related policies that Pro users can configure. They may switch from updates being downloaded and installed automatically to the saner notify only option for instance. There it is also possible to disable automatic updates completely
There are several tiers of beta testers for Windows products. There are internal beta testers over at Microsoft for instance, and all Windows 10 Insider Build users are also beta testers of the operating system (in several different groups based on the “Ring”).
While Enterprise users may block updates entirely, updates are being rolled out to the majority of Home and Pro users. This means that you could see Home and Pro users as Windows beta testers for Enterprise customers as well.
Considering that issues are reported regularly whenever new updates get released, it appears that these updates are not tested thoroughly enough. There is no indication that Microsoft is pushing out updates that it knows may cause issues for a small subset of users.
You could therefore consider Home and Pro users of Windows 10 beta testers as well to a degree. All those systems report back to Microsoft, and the company may use the information to make sure to fix them before they hit the bulk of the company’s valuable Enterprise customers.
Enterprise systems won’t have automatic updates enabled usually as patches need to be tested before they are pushed on to machines in production.