Windows 10: Windows as a Service

July 17, 2015   //   Microsoft Windows,

With the release of Windows 10 fast approaching, clients are asking about Windows as a Service. This new concept can be confusing when compared to Microsoft’s traditional update model.

What is Windows as a Service?

Windows as a Service is about bringing new and enhanced Windows features to the consumer faster, while allowing enterprises to update at their own pace. Windows 10 has been rumored to be the last version of Windows. Therefore, instead of big product releases, Windows will receive continual security and feature updates much like Office 365 or Gmail.

Patch Tuesday will still exist and security updates will continue to be delivered. Also, Microsoft has no plans to charge for this service, just as it has not charged for the Windows Update service.

Why has the feature update process changed?

Microsoft recognizes that users want transparency when it comes to new features; they want to be part of the development process and for their feedback to be heard. Consumers no longer want to wait the typical three years between OS releases to take advantage of the latest technology. On the other hand, enterprises want stability, predictability, and flexibility. Enterprises have mission critical systems with long support lifecycles where new features may not be needed. These differences have led Microsoft to reevaluate how features are introduced into the market. Now, as features are developed, they will be released as branches of the OS.

How will Microsoft bring new features to the consumer?

A branch will be started under the Windows Insider Program. This is where users can test the latest features and provide direct feedback to Microsoft using the feedback app. Once finalized, it will be released to Windows Update as the Current Branch (CB).

How will Microsoft bring new features to businesses?

After four months of validation through Windows Update, the branch will be available in the new Windows Update for Business as a Current Branch for Business (CBB) service. Businesses using this service will have up to eight months to validate and deploy the CBB. To ensure compliance, Microsoft will be making security updates dependent on branches. Business have the flexibility to have different systems running different branches. Branches can even be skipped since they are cumulative.

How will mission critical systems and long support life cycles be handled?

A special Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) will be available for enterprises that want the latest security updates (much like a service pack) but don’t want to impact their mission critical systems with new features. Microsoft is committed to supporting each Long Term Servicing Branch for 10 years. The Long Term Servicing Branch will require Windows Server Update Service and Windows Enterprise edition.

What about my existing deployment tools?

Microsoft has stated that all existing update deployment tools, such as Windows Server Update Service and System Center Configuration Manager, will continue to work as expected. See how System Center Configuration Manager helps you manage your users.

A Summary of Windows Branches

Branch Description
Insider Branch Several million members of the Windows Insider program will be the first to receive the latest and greatest features Microsoft has to offer. These users will be allowed to test and provider direct feedback to Microsoft.
Current Branch (CB) Windows Update is used by hundreds of millions of users. As features are made generally available, users of Windows Update will be automatically opted into these new features.
Current Branch for Business (CBB) This branch will be distributed through Microsoft’s new Windows Update for Business (WUB). Microsoft will promote a current branch after four months and allow business eight months to prepare for broad deployment. Requires Windows Pro or Enterprise.
Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) Distributed through WSUS, this branch will contain security updates only. While security updates will continue to be deployed as they are released, this branch can be thought of as Microsoft’s traditional service pack model. Requires Windows Enterprise.

Conclusion

It’s exciting to see Microsoft bringing users closer to the development process and at the same time bringing new features to market faster.

How will the new Windows 10 and Windows as a Service impact your business? What should your implementation strategy be?

Give us a call at 630.572.0240 or send us an email and tell us about your business. As a Microsoft Certified Gold Partner and an award-winning multi-practice IT consulting firm, we have the breadth and depth to grow your business across a full spectrum of IT solutions.

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