Windows 10 is shaping up to be the most unstable release since Millennium Edition (ME)

PC problem

Is Windows 10 unstable? That's the question that’s circulating through the blogosphere of late. With even veteran Windows watchers like Mary Jo Foley and Paul Thurrott now documenting their frustrations with the new OS, the perception that Microsoft released Windows 10 before it was ready is beginning to grow.

A quick perusal of peer-to-peer support sites like www.tenforums.com will give you a taste of just how widespread the malaise truly is. From buggy device drivers to "vanishing" modern apps, Windows 10 seems to have arrived with more than its fair share of rough edges.

SEE ALSO: How to fix Windows 10's worst problems

I’ve personally documented my own (as yet still unresolved) issues with Windows 10’s lack of video driver support for first generation Windows tablet PCs. The finger pointing between Intel, Microsoft and the various hardware OEMs who are affected by this bug continues to this day. And in the course of upgrading to Windows 10 on several other, seemingly compatible PCs, I’ve encountered more than my fair share of general weirdness, including:

  • Modern apps that simply won’t start. It often takes several taps/clicks on the corresponding Start Menu tile to get Modern apps to load. Tap once and nothing. Tap twice, again nothing. Finally, on the third or fourth try, the apps loads. My developer "spidey-sense" tells me it most likely has to do with a previous incarnation of the app’s process not fully shutting down. But whatever the source, it’s annoying as hell and makes Windows 10 feel less responsive than it should.
  • Modern apps that suddenly "vanish" from the screen. I’m sure the app has crashed somehow, but the lack of corresponding visual feedback makes it all the more alarming. A simple error dialog with a hint at what happened (and perhaps a lead on how to fix it) would be nice. Even an Event Log entry would give us a starting point for diagnosis, but nada.
  • Random freeze-ups upon resuming from sleep. On my Surface 3, if I leave the PC for a few minutes and it enters sleep mode, then resume it from sleep with a key press on the Touch Keyboard, I find I’m often frozen out for 10-15 seconds. This typically happens right after I’ve swiped away the lock screen. I then wait a bit and the system finally becomes responsive again. It’s almost as if the PC hung for a second (though the trackpad pointer is still active) and then somehow got unstuck. Needless to say, very alarming.
  • Random scrolling issues in Modern apps. I’ll be scrolling through a web page in Edge and suddenly it freezes. Not the browser window, or even the tab controls, just the "content" within the tab itself. And even then, I can still interact with the underlying page (e.g. hyperlinks and JavaScript still work) -- just not move it in any direction. Refreshing the page doesn’t fix it, but closing the tab (but not the browser itself), and then reloading the page into a new tab, fixes the issue -- until it happens again.

Interestingly, I’ve also encountered the scrolling issue in other Modern apps, most notably Mail and a Feedly-based RSS Reader app I use called Readiy (great app, BTW). Both exhibit similar behavior: Scrolling just stops dead until you close/reopen the app. I suspect that the problem may be linked to the trackpad on my Surface 3 (it mostly happens when scrolling in "deskto" mode), but it’s still quite disconcerting. More importantly, it’s the kind of random usability bug that makes Windows look bad when compared to iOS.

The sad thing is that I don’t remember encountering nearly as many issues when I first started using Windows 8. Yes, there were some video driver issues when I upgraded my Envy x2 to Windows 8.1. But these were quickly sorted out by a driver update from HP. However, I don’t recall having as many problems with Modern apps running under Windows 8.x (e.g. no sudden "poof" events with the Mail client or Modern IE), and I certainly never experienced the kind of random freezes/lockups I’m seeing with Windows 10.

To be fair, Microsoft is trying something new with Windows 10: A rolling update cycle in which the OS is never truly "finished" but instead keeps evolving over time. However, I can’t help but feel that the Windows team perhaps used this new development mantra as an excuse for cutting corners and releasing a remarkably unpolished (for a full release of Windows) product. Maybe this new approach will provide dividends in the future, but right now it’s leaving a sour initial taste, one that may prove extremely hard for Microsoft to mask down the road.

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