Top 10 most popular WinBeta stories of 2015

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Whew. What a year. Covering Microsoft in 2015 was a daunting task full of twists and turns and often the completely unexpected. We’re glad you stuck with us, and we look forward to bringing you fresh and fascinating new Microsoft coverage in 2016.

Through a combination of timing, search engine voodoo, and audience participation, a number of stories percolated to the top as the most popular among among WinBeta’s 17 trillion or so posts. We ranked them by the most pageviews, meaning that some were likely visited multiple times by the same readers. Also, keep in mind that some stories were live on the site for longer than others, and some were extremely timely–meaning that they were intensely popular, only for shorter periods of time.

Without further ado, then, here are WinBeta’s Top 10 most popular stories for 2015.

Number 1: Apple’s iPad Pro marketing speak tries to sidestep the Surface 3

With 102,132 pageviews as of this story’s publication, Kareem Anderson’s post on the diabolical genius of Apple’s PR machine ran away with the top spot. And that makes sense–anyone who’s actually used Windows 10 on a Surface knows that slapping a keyboard on an oversized iPad doesn’t turn Apple’s iOS-powered tablet into a real productivity device. Nor does calling it “Pro” constitute anything more than sticking some lipstick on a pig.

No, real productivity involves much more than that, as we covered in another piece that went into a little more detail. But WinBeta editor Kareem did a good job of encapsulating just what rubbed Windows fans wrong in Apple’s iPad Pro announcement:

I have to give it to Apple, marketing its newest tablet offering as a ‘Pro’ device is not only clever but almost diabolically genius. During the 40 minutes that Apple dedicated to the iPad Pro, few were spent on a convincing argument about how the new iPad is ‘Pro’. The demos of flowing ink and beautifully crafted CGI pens and tablets had many in the audience ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’. However, the same software and hardware limitations that relegate most iPads to consumption devices remain. The iPad Pro still has only one port, lacks expandable or portable storage management, and lacks support for mouse input. Perhaps more troubling for enterprise users is for better or for worse the lack of Active X support in the mobile version of Safari.

Number 2: Here’s a solution if Windows 10 build 10049 takes too long to install or fails to install

Coming in at number two, with 78,686 pageviews, was our post from April 4, 2015 on how to resolve an issue many readers were experiencing with installing Windows 10 Insiders build 10049. You’ll notice a trend here in terms of which stories generated the most pageviews at WinBeta–simply put, Windows 10 dominated.

There are two common issues with installing Windows 10 build 10049. First, attempts to install the build may be blocked due to insufficient disk space. Second, the amount of time needed to install the latest build is taking way too long — sometimes it takes hours to install.

The solution? Free up some disk space. You can use disk cleanup or uninstall a large game that is taking up valuable space. You can also uninstall language packs from Windows by typing the following command in command prompt as an administrator: Lpksetup /u

Number 3: More than 5 Kinect games worth playing on Xbox One

Number three is a post from that keeps generating interest even a few months after its September 8, 2015 publication date, currently standing at 77,206 pageviews. Although Microsoft has reduced its emphasis on Kinect within the Xbox lineup, those users who like it seem to really like it–hence this story keeps popping up in our most-viewed list.

The Kinect has changed the way users control media on their television sets and it has also evolved the way many play games with a growing library of Kinect-enabled games now available on Xbox One that allow for gamers to play with their entire body as opposed to just a controller. Here’s a list of some of the better Kinect games on Xbox One accompanied by a mini-review and personal thoughts on each release. It’s by no means a complete list of Xbox One Kinect games but it is a good example of the variety of experiences available and a great place to get started.

Number 4: How to fix ‘this app can’t open’ on Windows 10 Technical Preview

Next, we have another bit of technical support, this time the resolution to a pesky Windows Store Licensing Service issue that stopped Windows apps from starting up in what was once known as the Windows 10 Technical Preview. That takes us back.

Originally published on March 17, 2015 enjoying 75,872 pageviews since, here’s the gist:

In a post on the official Microsoft support forums, we have learned that this issue stems from the Windows Store failing to acquire a new license for the apps.

“There was an issue with the Store Licensing Service which meant that the Preview Apps were given a license that timed out far too quickly. This was fixed on 2/23. Unfortunately, this exposed another issue whereby the Store would fail to acquire a new license if one already existed – regardless of whether the license had expired. Removing an app and installing again doesn’t clear the cache, so even if you do this the app still fails to acquire a new license on startup. So basically if you installed the app prior to 2/23 then you would hit this issue and removing and reinstalling the app won’t fix the problem.”

Number 5: The 5 best Windows 8.1 mini PCs of 2015, perfect for students, parents, and movie watchers

Coming in at 65,408 pageviews, our number five most-popular post of 2015 covered a mini-review of five excellent Windows 8.1 mini-PCs that were good choices for those with little space, little money, or little in the way of required resources. Although published back on May 26, 2015 and prior to the release of Windows 10, we’re willing to be that these machine (or their successors) would likely make for decent buys today.

Here are the machines we featured:

Number 6: Windows 10 “Threshold 2” update now slated for November release

Our number six most popular story, published on September 5, 2015, dealt with Microsoft’s “Threshold 2” update to Windows 10. It’s no surprise that the story attracted 59,822 pageviews given that Windows 10 has in just a few more months already exceeded 200 million users. Clearly, people care about Windows 10, and its continuous improvement as a service is an important topic.

Although there have not been any branding decisions made regarding the update, I understand Microsoft is now referring to Threshold 2 as “Windows 10 Update for November” or “Windows 10 November Update” internally and with close partners, whether one of those names ends up as being final remains to be seen, but November is definitely looking more likely now. Microsoft could very well opt to not give this update any name or identity, and simply release it as another standard Windows 10 update for consumers. We’ll see.

And see we did: Threshold 2 was indeed released as Windows 10 1511, or November 2015 Update.

Number 7: Microsoft begins pre-downloading Windows 10 on reserved PCs

Number seven, at 51,670 pageviews, demonstrates again just how excited people have been about Windows 10. Published on July 28, 2015, or just a day before Windows 10 was officially released, Microsoft started pushing the installation files to machines whose users had reserved their free upgrade. As storage devices around the world started getting a little more full with the Windows 10 bits, people noticed, and it was the beginning of a pretty exciting time.

Some eagle eye’d users have found that the GWX folder is now filling up with Windows 10 bits, and many already have the .ESD which contains the entire Windows 10 operating system for installation starting July 29th. It was revealed a couple of months ago that Windows 10 would automatically be pre-downloaded before the launch date to avoid day one server struggles.

Number 8: How to bring back the old resizable Start Menu running Windows 10 build 9926

Our number nine most popular story, at 50,730 pageviews, goes all the way back to January 24, 2015, with people expressing some displeasure of how Windows 10 January Preview (a.k.a., build 9926) mucked around with the Start Menu. The fix was an easy one, fortunately, and things were resolved not too much later, and so this was just another of Microsoft’s flash-in-the-pan controversies–inevitable when you’re making so many deep and strategic changes to such a large and established organization.

With the recent arrival of the new Windows 10 January Preview, a number of new features and changes came included. One new change is the Start Menu, which for some has become a pain to use with the new Continuum mode. Luckily, the code for the old-style 9879 Start Menu is still present, meaning it can be re-enabled with one simple registry tweak.

Number 9: Windows 10 RTM candidate build 10176 has been compiled — sign off imminent

Once again, the progression of Windows 10 was an important topic to our readers, and our story published on July 6, 2015 was viewed 50,253 to come in at number nine. While Windows 10, as a service, didn’t have the same kind of “release to manufacture” or RTM build as typical software releases, there was a point where a Windows Insider build transmogrified into the code that would be pushed in the official release. Build 10176 was just that build, and there was plenty of excitement as Insiders got a taste of what their non-Insider friends and family would soon enjoy.

The Windows 10 RTM will be a build of Windows 10 that is stable and not buggy, it will be missing a number of features that will be coming in later builds of Windows 10 as that is simply the nature of WaaS (Windows as a Service). As Terry Myerson put it recently, “we will never be done” as the software will always be updated. So this time round RTM is just a milestone, a starting point for OEMs and consumers if you will.

The story also provided some guidance on how the whole build staging process works:

​If you are unaware how the sign off process works, Microsoft will compile a number of builds they consider ‘worthy’ of RTM, these are called RTM candidates. These builds will be tested, and if the builds are found to have no bugs or issues, will be then voted on by employees. The build which is voted for the most is then selected as the RTM build, and recompiled into the winmain branch. The build number then usually jumps to a number which is divisible by 16 and 100, like 10400.

Number 10: Windows 10 How To: manually trigger reserved Windows 10 update

Finally, our number ten most viewed story, at 47,080 pageviews, was once again related to Windows 10. This time, on Windows 10’s official released date of July 29, 2015, we passed along a tip on how to give the Windows 10 update process a little nudge. Since this story had a very short lifespan, it was clearly helpful to a number of people who were just a tad impatient to get Windows 10 installed.

Before you kick off, make sure you’re ready to install the Windows 10 upgrade. You can check out our guide on how to prepare your system for Windows 10. Head over to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\Download and delete the contents of the folder. Next, make sure your system can automatically download and install Windows Update. After you’ve enabled automatic Windows Update, open Command Prompt as an administrator and type “wuauclt.exe /updatenow“. This should start the Windows 10 download on your system. If it doesn’t start right away, head over to Windows Update to see if the update is available for you.


So, there you have it folks: the top ten most popular WinBeta stories of 2015. Although Microsoft is transitioning to a “cloud-first, mobile-first” company focused on building out a new productivity platform, the Windows platform remained the single most important topic to WinBeta readers throughout 2015. Because Microsoft is such a complex company with so many different products, services, and circumstances, we covered a ton of other topics as well, including:

Thanks again for making WinBeta such a blast. Without our readers, this site would be nothing but a lot of hot air, digitally speaking, and we appreciate you more than we can express. As we head into 2016, please keep the tips coming and the comments sections hopping. We have lots of new stuff planned for the new year, so stay tuned, and as always, let us know what you want us to cover. Because ultimately, it’s what you want to know that drives the content of this site.