It’s very unusual for different companies to ship similar products on more or less the same day unless there’s a concerted effort, such as timing to the release of a product they have in common. That’s why the coincidence of Microsoft’s Surface Studio and Dell’s Canvas seems to point to something bigger afoot with Windows 10.
While technically the Surface Studio began shipping last fall, Microsoft currently shows March 31 as the “ships by” date for the two lower-end versions of the PC (priced at $2,999 and $3,499). A day earlier on March 30, Dell will ship Canvas, a Studio-like tilting monitor ($1,799) that you can use with a separate PC.
Dell has also told PCWorld that the Creators Update will be in place by the time the Canvas ships on March 30. “Since the device isn’t available until 3/30—all of the features of the Creators Update will be available when Canvas ships,” a Dell representative said in an email earlier this month. (She declined to comment on the exact timing of the Creators Update in a follow-up inquiry.)
Waiting for Redstone
Time is not on Microsoft’s side. The company has already said that it plans two updates in 2017: the current Redstone 2 release (the Creators Update), and its successor, Redstone 3. The latter is the problem: PC makers are undoubtedly depending upon Redstone 3 to help drive holiday PC sales. Delay the Creators Update too long, and Redstone 3’s development window will shrink to the point where Microsoft will have to sacrifice something. We’re currently in the sixth month of the Creators Update’s development cycle. Shipping it sometime in April or May would allow a scant six months to develop Redstone 3 by October or early November.
Microsoft does have one thing going for it: Aside from the Surface Studio and Dell Canvas, there’s no indication that other PC vendors will be aligning a new generation of PC hardware around the Creators Update. However, Windows 10’s Creators Update is the first to include the Windows 10 Holographic Shell, which will power a series of head-mounted displays from Acer, Asus, Dell, and more. Delaying the Creators Update wouldn’t tank the PC market, but it would disappoint a legion of hardware makers with some VR equipment to sell.
Even so, Microsoft could still afford an extra week or two to ensure everything goes smoothly. If anything, Surface buyers know that the first (or third!) revisions of the hardware often ship with their own set of bugs.
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