Windows 10 users have been having a rough time for a long time. And now Microsoft has just shown why frustrated users should quit. 

Picked up by Techdows, is something which may well be the final straw for many running Windows 10. While serious, the problem is not the latest bug, but how it got there and what it says about Microsoft’s fundamentally flawed process in building a reliable operating system. 

06/16 Update: Credit to Microsoft, the company has now announced a major overhaul of its Windows testing strategy. The company is scrapping its confusing ‘rings’ program used by Windows Insiders and replacing it with ‘channels’. This results in more conventional naming: Fast Ring > Dev Channel, Slow Ring > Beta Channel, Release Preview Ring > Release Preview Channel. Microsoft stresses these changes are now “Focusing on quality of the experience” and allow it to develop builds of Windows in parallel. This should give the company greater flexibility to release new features separate from builds, if that build has stability problems. This sounds good on paper, but the big issue is less the quality of Windows beta releases (bugs are inevitable) but how Microsoft monitors, and often ignores, the problems Windows Insiders report. Consequently, Microsoft needs to prove this latest endeavor is more than just a rebrand of its discredited Windows testing system. Time will tell.

06/17 Update: This story has now taken a further twist. In addition to the changes Microsoft has announced for its Windows testing program, the company has now announced changes to ‘Fresh Start’ – the latest problem missed by the company, despite Insiders flagging it for months. In a new support document, Microsoft has confirmed that the feature is now operational in a new location for all Windows 10 PCs running the May 2020 update. You can find it by navigating to:

No timeline has been announced for a fix to the broken Fresh Start link that still exists in this version of Windows 10, but these are two decisive updates from Microsoft in consecutive days which will go some way towards restoring user confidence moving forward.

The bug was introduced by the (increasingly infamous) ‘Windows 10 May 2020’ update and it breaks an important feature for many: Fresh Start. This allows users to reinstall Windows 10 without losing their data. It’s a crucial tool for many if their PC runs into a serious problem. Bugs happen, but what Techdows discovered is users have been warning Microsoft about this in their droves since the May 2020 update first went into testing more than eight months ago. 

“The issue was brought to Microsoft attention by insiders and users via feedback hub many times before, but the company released May 2020 Update without fixing the issue,” explains Techdows. And worse still: “This issue is not listed in Windows 10 2004 known issues document Microsoft maintains on its website.” They are right, it’s not. 

And it gets worse when you look more closely. Microsoft added a vast network of so-called Windows Insiders (aka beta testers) which number in the millions and they take all the risks on your behalf by installing bleeding edge Windows updates, reporting the flaws then… getting ignored. 

What’s more, this now seems to be expected. Popular Windows site MSPoweruser described the Fresh Start farce as “no surprise” while Neowin notes that “the issue has been plaguing Windows Insiders for quite some time but Microsoft did not take note of it and pushed the May 2020 Update without fixing the problem… Microsoft has missed out on multiple issues that have been reported by the users but were not added to the known issues page.”

And there’s no evidence this will improve. Back in October 2018, Microsoft shipped an update which deleted user data despite Windows Insiders warning the company about this for months. Microsoft promised to do better, but in September 2019 an ex-Microsoft employee explained how the company’s entire testing program is fundamentally flawed:

Which brings us to today’s latest debacle. And it’s not like things were running smoothly before this. Since May, Windows 10 updates have impacted premium games, kicked users out of their profiles (twice), broken printers, cut Internet connections, caused boot failures and, yes, once again deleted user data. 

Something needs to change and at this point it is either Microsoft’s Windows testing practices or its users’ choice of operating system.

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