Windows (10) Update Survey and an open letter to Microsoft

[German]How satisfied are home users and IT Professionals with Windows and Microsoft’s update policy? This question can be answered by surveys. Susan Bradley, a Windows veteran, has created two surveys. Here are the results of those surveys – and which are the reason for an open letter to Microsoft’s top management.


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Some background information

The surveys was set up by my MVP colleague Susan Bradley to get an image of the satisfaction of Windows updates from consumers and consultant patchers. Susan Bradley is a professional administrator in business environment and is a moderator of the patchmanagement.org community.

At askwoody.com she has been writing about updates and their problems as Patch Lady since the beginning of the year. I am in loose contact with Woody Leonhard, the operator of askwoody.com, and Susan Bradley.

Susan Bradley has also set up in 2016 a petition What Computer users want changed in Windows 10 at change.org, addressing Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. I’ve mentioned that within my blog, but the petition just reached round about 7,000 signatures – that’s nothing, compared to 700 million Windows 10 users.

Susan Bradley has set up two surveys addressing satisfaction with Windows updates (Windows 7 till Windows 10) and has some question focusing Windows 10, one for consumers, on for IT professionals. I’ve mentioned this within my blog post Survey: Satisfaction with Windows Update in Business? and asked my blog reader for participation.

Note: This is not a statistically representative survey. This would have required the selection of representatives of certain population groups. But the survey has reached more than 800 consumers and more than 1,000 IT professionals. That’s a lot and be more than a ‘single opinion’.

Results of both surveys combined

Susan Bradley has published the results of here surveys at askwoody.com with the articles Patch Lady – Results of the consumer survey an Patch Lady – results of the Consultant patcher survey. Here are the relevant results, combined in tables.


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Q1: Satisfaction with Microsoft patching overall (Windows 7 t0 10)?

In this question, no distinction has been made between the Windows versions mentioned above. Here are the results of the participants (862 consumer, and 1,138 IT professionals).

Consumer IT Professionals
1 very not much satisfied 39.33 % (339 people) 31.72 % (361 people)
2 not satisfied 29.12 % (251 people) 37.26 % (424 people)
3 neutral 11.37 % (98 people) 12.83 % (146 people)
4 somewhat satisfied 14.62 % (126 people) 15.91 % (181 people)
5 very satisfied 5.57 % (48 people) 2.28 % (26 people)

The figures above already give a drastic picture of the current update situation from Windows 7 to Windows 10. More than 2/3 of consumers and professional consultants are not satisfied with Microsoft’s update quality.

Q2:  Satisfaction with quality of Windows 10 updates?

Question 2 was specifically about the satisfaction with updates under Windows 10, where 833 consumer and 1,131 professional participants replied.

Consumer IT Professionals
1 very not much satisfied 42.62 % (355 people) 32.71 % (370 people)
2 not satisfied 26.53 % (221 people) 31.56 % (357 people)
3 neutral 13.93 % (116 people) 19.10 % (216 people)
4 somewhat satisfied 11.16 % (93 people) 13.09 % (148 people)
5 very satisfied 5.76 % (48 people) 3.54 % (40 people)

The figures in the table above indicate that 72.15% of participating Windows 10 consumers (64,27 % IT professionals) are very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with the updates that Microsoft automatically rolls out and installs automatically. I would say, that is a disaster for Microsoft – although Microsoft’s management says ‘administrators, trust us with automatic updates, we will do the job’.

Q3:  Are feature updates useful to my business?

Microsoft makes a huge hype about its feature updates (actually upgrades), which are enrolled twice a year. Question 3 should indicate how useful people think this feature update is for their business. There 823 consumer and 1,122 IT professional participants has replied.

Consumer IT Professionals
1 not useful at all 35.60 % (293 people) 35.03 % (393 people)
2 rarely useful 35.12 % (289 people) 34.49 % (387 people)
3 neutral 19.56 % (161 people) 18.81 % (211 people)
4 somewhat useful 7.78 % (64 people) 9.71 % (109 people)
5 extremely useful 1.94 % (16 people) 1.96 % (22 people)

The figures in the table above show that more than 2/3 of participating Windows 10 consumer users and IT professionals do not find feature updates useful. Let me say it in this way: a product developer in other areas would have long been fired if his product and its functions had been so disgraced by potential buyers. Microsoft has established a Windows as a service model, that costs enormous time and money, but doesn’t fit the customer needs!

Q4: How often you wanted feature releases for Windows 10?

Microsoft’s credo is Windows as a service (WaaS) with two semi annual function updates shipped per year. A huge wheel is being turned, with insider previews, announcements, redemptions and so on. But does this fits with that what the users and IT professionals expects? There 843 consumer and 1,125 IT professional answered.

Consumer IT Professionals
1 once in 2 years 34.52 % (291 people) 39.29 % (442 people)
2 once a year 34.28 % (289 people) 39.20 % (441 people)
3 no opinion 16.96 % (143 people) 8.89 % (100 people)
4 two times a year 11.86 % (100 people) 11.20 % (126 people)
5 more often than now 2.37 % (20 people) 1.42 % (16 people)

The figures from the above table also impressively prove that Microsoft is developing a Windows that misfits what the users and IT professionals needs. A total of 68.80% (more than 2/3) of Windows 10 consumers users simply reject Microsoft’s upgrade frequency of two function updates per year.

78.49% of IT professionals who have to deal with the consequences of feature updates completely reject Microsoft’s approach. Less than 12% of this people can follow Microsoft’s approach, with the ‘no opinion’ group we only get about 20%, or every 5th IT professional doesn’t really care about the semi-annual feature updates. Unfortunately, Windows has a monopole on the desktop.

Q5: Does Windows 10 is meeting your (business) needs?

The question is, is Windows 10 meet the (business) needs of potential users. I was surprised by the results.

Consumer IT Professionals
Answer: Yes 49.59 % (421 people) 52.52 % (505 people)
Answer: No 30.39 % (258 people) 32.74 % (371 people)

A total of 170 consumers (20.02%) were unable or unwilling to answer yes or no to this question. In general, however, Windows 10 only meets the requirements or expectations of less than 50% of home users.

A total of 167 consultant/IT professionals (14.74%) did not answer this question with yes or no. In general, however, Windows 10 only meets the requirements or expectations of just 52.52% of IT professionals. Would you use software with such a poor coverage of requirements if there was a choice?.

At askwoody.com you can also see the dedicated answers of the participants to some questions about this article. In question 6, people were still able to express their wishes for improvements to Windows 10 in order to meet their requirements more effectively.

Although this survey is not representative, the results are a disaster for those responsible for Windows 10 at Microsoft. Susan Bradley writes in her summary (I’ve compiled the text from different places):

The consumer apps distributed on the professional SKU (Stock Keeping Units, i.e. Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise) annoy consultants and professional IT people.  Consumers, however, prefer Windows 10, which comes along like Windows 7.  More control over updates and more control over settings.

In Microsoft’s zeal to keep us all up to date, they developed an operating system that drives consumers to iPads and Androids because [Windows 10] doesn’t give them control over their devices.

If they [Microsoft] want to control patches, [in a way] as Windows 10 does, you have to control the ecosystem of applications, hardware and vendors. But that’s exactly what Microsoft isn’t doing. And even if they [Microsoft] do, they show that we are years away from the application ecosystem we need to achieve complete stability in updating.

I’ve addressed this multiple times within serveral German blog post. In normal companies, the head of development would now be fired, because millions were sunk for a product, which was apparently not developed to fit customer’s and market needs.

An open letter to Microsoft’s upper management

The satisfaction with Windows 10 and Microsoft’s approach of Windows as a service as well as the provided updates is disastrous for both consumers and IT professionals view, if we browse the above survey. Susan Bradley (Patch Lady) wrote an open letter to Microsoft’s management, and Woody Leonhard has published it at the article An open letter to Microsoft management re: Windows updating on ComputerWorld. Here are excerpts from this open letter:

From: Susan Bradley
To: Mr. Satya Nadella, Mr. Carlos Picoto and Mr. Scott Guthrie

Dear Sirs:

Today, as Windows 10 turns three years old, I am writing to you to ensure that you are aware of the dissatisfaction your customers have with the updates released for Windows desktops and servers in recent months. The quality of updates released in the month of July, in particular, has placed customers in a quandary: install updates and face issues with applications, or don’t install updates and leave machines subject to attack.

In the month of July 2018 alone there are 47 knowledge base bulletins with known issues. Some of these were stop issues, but most concerning were the .Net side effects with your own software: SharePoint, BizTalk and even Exchange servers were impacted by these July 10 updates.

I am a moderator on a community listserve that focuses on the topic of patch management, patchmanagement.org. Recently many of the participants on the listserve have expressed their concerns and dissatisfaction with the quality of updates as well as the timing of updates.

I recently asked the list members to answer several questions about patching on Windows 7 to Windows 10. The full results of this unscientific survey can be read here. I urge you to take the time to read the responses. It showcases that your customers who are in charge of patching and maintaining systems are not happy with the quality of updates and the cadence of feature releases, and feel that it cannot go on as is.

I have cut out the details of the surveys from Susan’s open letter here, as you can read them above. Within the open letter, Bradley asks Microsoft managers to take the time to look at the results of the surveys. Bradley specifically points out that the Windows Insider program is something that ‘you have to put behind the bath’s mirror’, as it does not reveal the bugs and issues. Susan Bradley writes:

I am disturbed when I see users and consultants talk about taking drastic measures to take back control of updating and rebooting. Some are disabling Windows Update as a drastic measure to ensure that updates do not reboot systems when they are not wanted. It’s clear that your team also acknowledge that unexpected updates are problematic. But your customers deserve better than “promising” results. They deserve a stable platform that reboots only when they want it to. The operating system needs to do a better job of communicating to the end user and especially to the patching administrator when a machine will receive an update. The addition of the Windows Update for Business settings that often conflict with other group policy settings cause confusion, not clarity.

While it’s commendable that you’ve listened to feedback and made changes to Windows update during these three years, the fact is that these changes in each version release have caused confusion, and in some cases behavior that was not expected at all. Dual scan is one such change that caused confusion, and as a side effect caused administrators to have updates installed when they did not want them. The lack of clear communication regarding update changes leads to this confusion. Administrators are having to follow various blogs and sites and even Twitter channels to be able to understand the changes. The lack of basic documentation of Windows update error codes, the fact that it took several feature releases to make changes to the unreadable Windows update log, the fact that it took several feature releases before acknowledging the problem of symbol publishing showcases that the changes in Windows updating have had a major impact in the servicing and handling of Windows 10. I personally know of several large enterprises that are not on the current Semi Annual channel release of 1803 and are in fact several feature releases behind. The constant change and churn is not helping firms in their deployment strategies.

There are many more complains about issues, and Susan mentions observations that administrators and consultants are taking drastic steps, such as disabling updates, to be spared from this disaster. In Susan’s (and my) opinion, users and administrators deserve stable machines that boot only when the admins want them to. It would not be done with vague promises. In further sections of her open letter she also deals with the fact that improvements in communication (keyword Spectre/Meltdown) are necessary for the distribution of updates. Often information in the KB articles on updates is simply wrong or missing. The open letter leads to the wish that Microsoft software is expected, on which all updates and patches must indeed be installed immediately and without reservations. Currently one is far from this state, the confidence in Microsoft’s update capabilities is vanished.

The usual Microsoft phrase ‘we listen to your feedback’ is now being put to the test. Will Microsoft change something to get out of this mess? In any case, I am impressed by what Susan Bradley has set up and I wish her (and all of us) real success. And if you want to support this as admins, report the problems to your Microsoft representatives and share the information given here, at askwoody.com or at ComputerWorld. It won’t be a #MeToo debate – but maybe something is changing how the old tanker Microsoft is navigating. Or what is your opinion?

We have an answer, see: Windows Update quality issues: Microsoft’s answer


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1 Response to Windows (10) Update Survey and an open letter to Microsoft

  1. Crysta T Lacey says:

    Thank You so much for deciphering those Tiny Numbers in those ?Screenshots?

    I know I could have probably magnified them and have them go all grainy and fall apart.

    I couldn’t understand why Susan didn’t do what you did but I didn’t want to criticize. I was just so happy she did what she did, she didn’t need the burden of my old eyes….

    Best Regards,

    Crysta

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