Microsoft announced a new build of its Windows 10 operating system today, with version 10240 deploying to both the “Fast” and “Slow” Windows Insider rings. It’s been widely reported that this is the RTM (release-to-manufacturing) version of Windows, since it’s dropping after new builds are no longer available from ISO versions and must be installed via Windows Update. Microsoft, however, is shying away from such language, and has repeatedly emphasized that this is just the “next” version of Windows.
Much of this flows from the concept that Microsoft really, really wants Windows to be seen as a software-as-a-service product that doesn’t really “have” launch dates anymore, but whether or not the market agrees to make this shift is anything but certain. While it’s true that Microsoft’s major competitors have adopted a more frequent update schedule, it’s not at all accurate to paint either Google or Apple as having abandoned either version numbers or discrete product launches. New iOS or Android updates arrive roughly once a year, often with significant UI and performance changes under-the-hood. Bug fixes are packaged in discrete releases, as are new features.
Ironically, it’s always been Microsoft that pushed the idea of a semi-invisible Windows version that was largely defined by a periodic refresh cycle or service pack rather than the multi-year cadence of iOS 8, 8.1, 8.2, or Google’s multiple 4.x or 5.x releases. Either you ran Windows 7 or Windows 7 Service Pack 1, despite the fact that Windows 7 debuted six years ago.
In any event, some folks are calling this RTM, but Microsoft isn’t officially one of them. We won’t know which way things turned out until we see which version of the OS is actually on shipping hardware.
With new versions of the OS now dropping at a frenetic pace, Microsoft has to be hard-pressed to acknowledge their existence, much less give many details on their updates. According to the firm, however, Microsoft Edge gets a significant speed kick in this new version. Microsoft reports that Edge is now 112% faster than Chrome in Sunspider, 11% faster in Google Octane, and 37% faster in Apple’s Jetstream benchmark. (For those of you wondering about the shift from 112% to 11% and 37% respectively, that’s a direct quote from Microsoft, not our nomenclature.)
App uploads, Office updates
There are two additional changes to track. First, developers working on creating Universal apps for Windows 10 will be able to upload those applications with “production ready tools” on July 29, the same day the OS goes live. That could complicate the rollout if developers are trying to update the Windows Store at the same time as its sagging under the weight of upgrades — but given that MS appears to have adopted a staggered and unknown release schedule, this simply may not be an issue.
The other item of note is that the new mobile Office apps in Windows 10 will stop being free in about a week. From that point forward, you’ll need an Office 365 subscription to edit documents on Windows 10 PCs and devices. Viewing and editing will remain free for non-commercial use on 10.1-inch screens or less, but all other applications (save OneNote) will need a subscription to Office 365.