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Vaunted Windows 8 RTM updates 'actually featured from Win2000'

Ex-Microsofties dispute Sinofsky's blogpost claim

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Has Microsoft’s Windows chief Steven Sinofsky gone too far in stating the brilliance of his team's work on Windows 8?

“Yes,” say some ex-Microsofties, who reckon Sinofsky is taking credit for something that’s not new on Windows 8, due on Thursday.

What’s got them riled is a 10 October Sinofsky blog where he boasted Windows 8 would be "totally up to date for all customers starting at General Availability".

Sinofsky claimed his Windows team had challenged itself “to create the tools and processes to be able to deliver these "post-RTM" (release-to-manufacturing) updates sooner than a service pack.”

These "post-RTM" updates are the changes made to Windows 8 between its release to manufacturing in August and this Thursday’s general release, what's referred to by Mcrosofties as "General Availability".

Windows 8 saw changes in performance, power management and battery efficiency, media playback, and compatibility added to the Windows 8 RC code, according to Sinofsky.

When a new version of Windows hits RTM, the coding doesn't stop, and the operating system is typically updated to add support for new device drivers, hardware and software from partners. It’s a cycle of work that happens with each and every new release of Windows.

Only, contrary to what Sinofsky has claimed, customers who have bought a new Windows OS in the past have not always had to wait for the first service pack to get RTM-era changes – the first SP has typically shipped around a year after a new version of Windows.

A former Microsoft Windows 2000 team member contacted The Reg to say RTM-period changes to Windows 2000 were made available with Windows 2000 at launch, in February 2000.

He told The Reg: “We went to a PC store in Bellevue and bought literally [sic] one of everything that ran on a PC for more testing on RTM final code. When Win2k was finally launched (then as now months after RTM) there was a nice code update... Thus, the process is not all that new.”

Six years later on Windows Vista, Microsoft released eight updates categorised as “important" in January 2007 with its “consumer” release of the operating system. A Windows Vista “business” launch was orchestrated by Microsoft in November.

Windows Vista was overseen by Sinofsky’s predecessor, Jim Allchin.

You could excuse Sinofsky by arguing that Windows 2000 and Windows Vista predate him, only Windows 7 was also updated to include RTM changes before release in October 2009.

Microsoft released a “stability and reliability” update for Windows 7, and Windows Server 2008 R2, in October 2009 – same time as the Windows 7 GA.

You can view the pack’s contents here.

Based on what we’re being told, and what we’ve seen, it seems Sinofsky has overstated the achievement on the Windows 8 RTM update.

To be generous, it sounds like he has developed procedures to ensure more of the RTM changes made it into the Windows GA before release in a more organized way. That would be the “testing and certification to broadly distribute these updates,” Sinofsky mentions.

However, it seems wrong to assert – as he has – that RTM changes in a GA release of Windows is something different to work done on previous iterations – or that PC users in the past would have to wait until the first Windows service pack before receiving the RTM updates.

To do so implies that in that period, PC users weren’t running the latest code and that somehow left them unable to use any and all PCs, peripherals or apps or that they were vulnerable on security. By extension, users of Windows 8 are not, of course.

El Reg asked Microsoft to comment on this story, but was told simply: “We have nothing more to share beyond this blog post at this time." ®

Bootnote

Take The Reg's pre-launch Windows 8 tour. Read about the road to Windows 8 via Windows 1.0, Windows NT and Windows 95 and more and what to expect from Windows 8 on ARM.

Also, never mind the Apple tax, read about why Windows 8 Surface and ARM-tablets are priced to fail, and discover why your apps will work on Windows 8 but Microsoft wants you to rewrite them anyway.

Plus: Why the channel believes Microsoft will be off-target when it declares "job done" on Windows 8.

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