Microsoft cautiously restarts Windows 10 1809 upgrade distribution

After pausing the rollout of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update over the weekend, Microsoft has again begun to deliver the feature upgrade to users.

The immediate re-release was limited to Windows Insider participants, Microsoft’s opt-in beta testing program, John Cable, director of program management in the Windows servicing and delivery group, wrote in a post to a company blog. “We will carefully study the results, feedback and diagnostic data from our Insiders before taking additional steps towards re-releasing more broadly.”

Cable did not name a date when Microsoft would fully restore distribution. “Once we have confirmation that there is no further impact, we will move towards an official re-release of the Windows 10 October 2018 Update,” he said.

That form of staged delivery – where code is given first to a few, then to a larger number of users – is common among software developers, whether writ large for the launch of a major refresh or, as in this case, after a debacle and forced restart. In the latter situations, the few-then-more-then-many approach is practically mandatory to restore customer confidence.

To spur that confidence, Cable contended that Microsoft had figured out what led to users losing files after upgrading to 1809, the numerical label in the company’s yummy format. He assured users that Microsoft has everything under control.

“We have fully investigated all reports of data loss, identified and fixed all known issues in the update, and conducted internal validation,” Cable said.

He also urged users whose files had been erased to contact Microsoft support by phone or visit a company retail outlet for assistance. Contrary to reports that implied that the support technicians were equipped with special tools to restore lost files, Cable cautioned customers that the deletions might well be permanent.

“We cannot guarantee the outcome of any file recovery work,” he said.

Cable also intimated that the bug had been reported prior to the Oct. 2 release by participants in the Insider program. According to several different outlets, the flaw slipped through the cracks because too few had “upvoted” the bug – even though multiple testers had logged data loss in the Insiders-only Feedback Hub.

Cable’s comments about Microsoft’s changes to the Hub synced precisely with the claims by outsiders of the Insider failure. “To help us better detect issues like this … we have added an ability for users to also provide an indication of impact and severity when filing User Initiated Feedback,” he said. “We expect this will allow us to better monitor the most impactful issues even when feedback volume is low.”

Many took Microsoft to the woodshed and bashed the firm for overlooking the problem. “By allowing such a buggy upgrade into the wild, Microsoft has truly let customers down. And a quick glance into the Insider Feedback Hub shows this to be a reported problem before,” said Rod Trent, chief executive of myITforum.com and an acknowledged expert on Microsoft’s System Center management platform.

“It’s time to go back to the drawing board,” Trent continued. “Microsoft’s update testing mechanisms are broken.”

Cable’s take, not surprising, was not that dire. “We are committed to learning from this experience and improving our processes and notification systems to help ensure our customers have a positive experience with our update process,” he said as he wrapped up his post.

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