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Microsoft updates Windows 10, gets an earful from users about OneDrive changes

Gregg Keizer | Nov. 14, 2014
The update, tagged "Build 9879," followed the Oct. 21 release of Build 9860, which came 20 days after the initial Technical Preview.

Microsoft yesterday rolled out the next update to its Windows 10 Technical Preview, just three weeks after the previous version arrived.

But one change that Microsoft trumpeted -- an alteration to how OneDrive, the company's cloud-based storage service, synchronizes files -- got a big thumbs down from users.

The update, tagged "Build 9879," followed the Oct. 21 release of Build 9860, which came 20 days after the initial Technical Preview.

So far, Microsoft's cadence for Windows 10 has been faster than what analysts anticipate will be the practice when the new operating system publicly launches in mid-2015. Then, updates will ship as often as monthly for consumers, while businesses will be able to choose between that and two additional tempos that Gartner has tagged "near-consumer speed" and "long-term servicing." The former will roll up the "consumer-speed" updates every four to six months to versions that fast-acting enterprises will test and deploy, while the latter will remain feature- and UI-static for as long as two to three years, receiving only security updates.

In the technical preview, customers have an update frequency choice of only "Fast" or "Slow," with the former representing the final's consumer speed while the latter will probably have no corresponding cadence.

"If you're in the Slow ring, you won't receive the build right away -- we'll publish to Slow after we see how everything goes with the Fast ring," said Gabe Aul, the engineering general manager for Microsoft's operating system group, in a blog post yesterday.

Microsoft is using the Technical Preview to not only show customers what Windows 10 will include, but also to test the faster release pace. Build 9879, however, is a full, in-place upgrade, and not one of the smaller updates that next year will include only changes since the last version.

Aul touted several changes to Windows 10 in the latest build, including one that users bashed as a step backwards.

"We're also introducing changes to how OneDrive syncs your files in this build," Aul wrote. "In Windows 8.1, we use placeholders on your PC to represent files you have stored in OneDrive. People had to learn the difference between what files were 'available online' (placeholders) versus what was 'available offline' and physically on your PC."

In other words, OneDrive on Windows 8.1 did not automatically place actual copies of all files in the cloud storage service on a device, but instead showed placeholder icons, what Microsoft calls "smart files," that included a thumbnail image of the file -- useful when searching through photographs -- and searchable metadata. When clicked, the placeholder/smart file kicked off a file download to the local device. That was counter to, say, Dropbox's method of everything-is- available-locally-on-every-device, but also saved local storage space and the bandwidth necessary to download and synchronize large OneDrive collections.

 

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