After this build, I KNOW I need to drink more…
That banging sound you hear in the background is me banging my head against my desk. I’ve been in quality for more than 25 years – the entire length of my career. During that time, I’ve spent a lot of time working through software related bugs and issues in various roles. I’ve also spent a great deal of time in the Microsoft ecosystem working with and testing their operating systems and productivity software. I really think I know that ecosystem pretty well; and I can truly say that I’m beside myself. Windows 10 – most of the time – really has me scratching my head…
What a mess.
I have Windows 10 Build 10122 installed on two machines, my Surface Pro 3 and my Dell Latitude 10 ST2. The experience is very different on both devices. I’m going to cover the biggest issues on each, but very quickly. Again, the longer I go on, the more this will turn into a rant, and I really don’t want to rant about this today. I’ve got better things to talk about that I want to get to; but this is something that really needs to get put out there. Regular feedback to the Windows 10 Insider Team isn’t going to be enough; and honestly, the way that system is setup and run, there’s no way for (feedback) reporters to know if it’s been seen, acknowledged or investigated.
Dell Latitude 10 ST2
I’ve talked about the experience of Windows 10 on low end tablets before. The experience leaves a GREAT deal to be desired. It’s getting better with newer builds, but it’s still not anywhere near ready for RTM.
Windows 10 Build 10122 has start and stop performance on the Latitude 10 ST2. What I mean is that there are times when you interact with the device and it works like you would expect it to – you touch a button the screen and the expected action connected to it executes. You can type or swipe, or do whatever it is you’re doing. However, that experience doesn’t last long, and the times between these “moments of normalcy” are few and far between.
Normally, the tablet is sluggish. You tap the screen and the touch screen registers the touch in real time, but the button or object you’ve touched or tapped doesn’t launch, or perform the expected action until much later (later can be as little as a few seconds, or as long as 5-10 minutes… I know. I’ve timed it, after thinking that the tablet had frozen, but had my attention diverted long enough to see the action execute minutes later).
There’s no rhyme or reason to these delays. I’ve looked for a pattern. Sometimes the device functions the way you expect, sometimes it just needs to “take a breath.” The device really appears to be processor or memory bound, though bringing up Task Manager doesn’t seem to show a heavy processor or memory load on the device. This really makes the device unreliable, if not unusable. I have no idea when the device will be “available.” There’s so much of the Windows Experience that happens in the background (Windows Updates, disk optimization/ SSD Trim, etc.) that the Intel Atom processor either has issues with, or the code needs to be refactored to effectively support, that you can’t use the device.
All of THAT mess aside, I think the biggest problem that I have with Windows 10 Build 10122 on my Latitude 10 ST2 is related to networking and internet connectivity. Windows has defaulted to Wi-Fi on since Windows 8 hit the scene and portable devices, be they tablets, ultrabooks or notebooks that have both an active Wi-Fi connection and an active Ethernet connection will automatically route internet and network traffic through the Ethernet connection. When that connection is broken, traffic will auto-switch to the Wi-Fi connection, and vice versa.
However, I have a huge problem with network connectivity on my Latitude 10 ST2. The device came with a docking station so I have access to both types of connections on this device. Initially, the device wants to be on Wi-Fi, and even when there’s an active Ethernet connection the device, the device starts up with Wi-Fi active. When it senses connectivity via Ethernet, it will make the internal switch, but Wi-Fi is the default… and all that is good.
However, for some reason, my Latitude ST2 often registers an active Wi-Fi connection but fails to realize that its connected to any kind of an active network. I can turn Wi-Fi on and off and while it sees active networks, and will reconnect to networks that are marked as “Connect Automatically,” apps and services that need an active network or internet connection to function (like Windows Update, Microsoft Edge/ Project Spartan, etc.) will tell me that I need an active network connection to use them. Putting the tablet in the dock or attaching a USB Ethernet adapter doesn’t work. Neither are recognized.
Sometimes rebooting solves the problem, but it often does not. Sometimes switching Wi-Fi networks back and forth between available networks with a strong signal will solve the problem, but often does not.
Unfortunately, Office 365 and much of what I would want to use a Windows PC for won’t function without an active network connection, so I’m stuck. I have no idea what the root cause is here; and I have no idea how to resolve the issue. With this networking issue and the stuttery performance I’ve also noted above, my Dell Latitude 10 ST2 is largely unusable with Windows 10 Insider Preview on it.
Surface Pro 3
Thankfully, I have not had a problem installing Windows 10 Build 10122 on my Surface Pro 3. Everything seems to have installed without a hitch and to be working fine. However, it’s not all sunshine and daisies.
I am having one heck of a time with both the Calendar and Mail apps. Neither of them work right. They often don’t sync with my Exchange account, and often force close out unexpectedly. Information on the Live Tiles of either app on the Start Menu often don’t update at all (and show just the application icon, regardless of tile size), or update very infrequently, even after the app opens, syncs and closes correctly (i.e. without force closing on its own).
Windows Update is often a hit or miss here, too, as with Build 10122, I’ve been sitting on 86% of a System Hardware (not firmware) Update for the past 5 days. The download won’t move past that point. Other updates may download, but won’t install as they are waiting on that hardware update to finish. I’ve also got a handful of updates that are saying they need a restart to finish installing. Can I tell you that I’ve restarted my Surface Pro 3 over and over again, and those updates won’t finish installing? It’s almost as though Windows doesn’t see those pending updates and completely bypasses them during restart (which MAY actually be the case…).
I’ve also got four separate, successful installation instances of a System Firmware Update – 5/14/2015 in my Update History. I’ve actually seen this update “successfully” installed on my SP3 at least nine (9) different times since 2015-05-14. It was successfully installed twice while I was writing this article on the morning of 2015-05-29. However, my SP3 never seems to go through any kind of firmware update process, and there’s no way to really know if it was actually installed, especially since it seems to be offered on a regular basis every day or two for download and installation.
The biggest issue I have with Windows 10 on my Surface Pro 3, however, has to do with the lock screen, Sleep, and unlocking the console. Quite honestly, this whole process doesn’t work right, either. It’s getting to be very frustrating; and I often have to force the device to shut down by holding the power button down.
The device often doesn’t appear to wake from sleep. While I know its “on” (largely because the backlight on the keyboard turns on after either popping open the kickstand and tapping a key or two on the Type Cover or by pressing the power button, the screen doesn’t do…anything. If it does do something, the screen backlight will turn “on” but the screen will either appear black or a dark gray. The mouse cursor may or may not show up when the touch pad is used. Pressing CTRL-ALT-DELETE doesn’t change the display. It remains black or gray, with or without a mouse cursor, just staring at me.
It’s at that point that I have to press the power button to hard shut the device down and pray that it turns back on. I’m constantly mindful of my battery level and I’ve nearly always got enough power for the device to start. Unfortunately for me, I often have to run through the process to restart a Surface tablet when it won’t start or the battery won’t charge. It’s been updated to include instructions for the new Surface 3, so book mark that page and keep it around for future reference. If you have a Surface tablet, it’s a good resource to have, if you need it.
Windows 10 has a long way to go. My friend Paul Thurrott recently confirmed that Microsoft WILL RTM Windows 10 in July of 2015. So it’s coming whether we Windows Insiders feel it’s ready or not. Again, while I’ve been in quality for 25 years, and software for nearly 16 of those 25 years, I’m not used to having consistent, clearly corroborated feedback so (apparently) casually or cavalierly ignored.
Yes, I know that Microsoft is going to continue the Windows Insider program after it RTM’s Windows 10 near the end of July 2015. Yes, I know they’re going to continue development and will continue to release updates to the OS in a seemingly never ending cascade of “catch it, cuz I’m gonna throw it to you as soon as its ready” updates. I’m also completely familiar with strategic release vs. perceived risk of active defects. I sing THAT particular song every day at work for at least three IT SVP’s and two VP’s and no less than three business SVP’s and a large number of business VP’s. I assess risk all day long; but not ready is not ready. Shipping something that’s this broken often doesn’t provide strategic advantage. It circumvents it.
Are you using the Windows 10 Build 10122? Are you trying to install it on either an under powered/ budget PC or tablet? Are you trying to install it on any of Microsoft’s Surface Pro devices or on the Surface 3? Did you bump into the rollback-installation bug with Surface Pro 3? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the latest build(s) of Windows 10. Do you think Windows 10 will be ready to ship at the end of July 2015? Will it matter , considering that Microsoft is likely to continue its rapid release cycle and its Fast Ring/ Slow Ring release paradigm? Are you having a better go of things than I am? Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and give me your thoughts on the situation?