MS releases KB 4476976, a test Win10 1809 cumulative update, to the Insider Preview Ring. Bravo!

In the three years since Microsoft defined its Insider Rings, we’d seen it use them in the way they were intended only once. Now we’re up to twice. At last, more signs of intelligence in Redmond.

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If Microsoft’s patchers keep it up, folks might start to think that they know what they’re doing.

Last night we saw the release of KB 4476976, which is a bug-fixing patch for Win10 version 1809. The fix itself isn’t remarkable (more about that later). What’s amazing is the delivery mechanism.

Once again, Microsoft is making use of the Windows Insider Program Release Preview Ring in the way it was originally intended — to release test versions of cumulative updates, before they head out to the general populace.

Interesting concept. It’s called "testing," I believe. Demonstrably, Microsoft has had problems in that department.

Microsoft first used the Release Preview Ring correctly back in November. Back then, we saw a cumulative update for Win10 version 1809 head into the Release Preview Ring for testing, before it was pushed out for people to install. 

Now, it appears as if those who want to test Win10 Cumulative Updates — say, software manufacturers that want to check for compatibility, or hardware driver writers who want to make sure the latest Win10 patch doesn’t freeze their systems — can subscribe to the Windows Insider Release Preview Ring, and put the pending new patch through the wringer.

And they can do all of that before the Cumulative Update gets pushed out as an untested “C Week” or “D Week” patch.

That’s the way the Founding Mothers intended. Microsoft’s official Insider Program overview documentation says:

Release Preview Ring

If you want to be on the current public release of Windows 10 but still get early access to updates, applications, and drivers without taking the risk of moving to the Development Branch, the Release Preview Ring is your best option. The Release Preview Ring is only visible when your Windows build version is the same as the current Production Branch.

Gabe Aul introduced the Windows Insider Preview Ring on Feb. 10, 2016. It only took three years to get the behavior to line up with the original vision.

As for the patch itself, it appears to be a backporting of fixes that went out to Win10 19H1 beta-testers — the folks testing the next version of Win10 — in the Fast Ring back in October. According to Leopeva64 on Tenforums, two of the fixes in this Preview patch KB 4476976 do the following:

  • We fixed an issue where the Action Center might suddenly appear on the opposite side of the screen before appearing on the correct side.
  • We fixed an issue resulting in the Action Center icon sometimes showing a number of unread notifications, however when you opened Action Center it would be blank.

I haven’t found any independent confirmation of those fixes, or any other documentation for that matter, but it fits into Microsoft’s recent pattern of backporting fixes after they’ve been thoroughly tested in the next version of Win10.

Microsoft has created an incomprehensible patching mess — six or more versions of Win10, cumulative updates and so-called “non-security” cumulative updates, delivered at random times to “seekers,” almost no testing outside of Microsoft — that you can’t track without a voluminous scorecard. It makes me nostalgic for the old Win7 patchwork quilt of patches.

Now, just a tiny bit of sanity has returned.

It’s important to celebrate the unheralded victories. Join us on the AskWoody Lounge.

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