No this one will require a bit of mental gymnastics. But in response to a related question, Microsoft told me today that there is no “RTM,” “final” or “gold” version of Windows 10. And that I’m not alone in my confusion: much of the company still doesn’t get this either.
To be fair, this is in some ways just semantics, I get that. But you don’t have to go back too far to remember Windows RTM sign-offs that involved much pomp and circumstance, including in at least one case the RTM bits—literally encoded on gold optical discs—being whisked away from the Microsoft campus in a helicopter. (Yes, really.)
Drama aside, the term RTM is useful in the same way that all terms are useful in that it lets us refer to a thing, simply, by a name that in this case is well-understood and still somewhat accurate. PC makers have always received the RTM version of Windows whatever, and that is the code that went out on PCs. With recent Windows versions, that RTM code was often added to post-RTM so that what went out on new PCs was updated. (And if you got the code on disc as an upgrade or whatever, those post-RTM updates would be downloaded via Windows Update.) The RTM build, always, had a specific build number.
Windows 10 meets this criterion. There is a build number 10240, that can in fact be considered “RTM,” “final” or “gold.” It has been given to PC makers and will be provided to those who upgrade. It has been and will continue to be updated with post-RTM code, called hot-fixes, that will fix small issues or whatever. Just as with the past few versions of Windows.
So why not just call build 10240 RTM?
Windows Insiders (like PC makers) already have access to the best code available pending some final hot fixes ahead of the July 29th launch date, I was told, and there is a certain accuracy to that: as I’ve written a few times recently, all of the PCs and devices I have with prerelease versions of Windows 10 have in fact been updated now to build 10240 and whatever post-10240 hot-fixes.
Because of this, the notion of “RTM,” “final” or “gold” is thus relative, and these old terms and definitions don’t necessarily hold up as well as they used to when Windows was delivered in a more monolithic fashion and had very specific, hard-stop milestones. With Windows 10, nothing is ever really “done.”
Fair enough. I like being able to describe things simply, and this confusion—or weirdness, or vagueness, or whatever—sits strangely in the pit of my stomach. But I can at least say this: whatever you want to call it, Windows 10 is heading out to Windows Insiders now, is with PC makers and will be delivered on new hardware starting on July 29, and will be in the hands (if virtually) of upgraders starting next week.
The thing is, July 29—what I would like to call “general availability” or GA—is in fact just the start of general availability since not everyone who wants Windows 10 will in fact be able to get it on that exact day. Some people who reserved the Windows 10 upgrade will wait days or weeks before they’re actually upgraded. So even the GA term is perhaps out of date as well. Dammit.
I can’t stand the impreciseness of this.