Microsoft To Push Harder With Windows 10 Upgrade

Microsoft has reportedly made public a decision to take much greater control of the Windows 10 updates, and a how these updates are received. A recent Computer World article highlighted the main points of this latest chapter in the Windows 10 story.

In the Past

In the past, how Microsoft updates and patches were received has been left very much down to IT Departments. This has meant that IT Departments have been able to test out the updates first in their own environment and in their own time before deciding to deploy. The thinking was to discover whether adding the update would cause any conflicts or other issues and allow a plan to address the issue to be made before deployment. 

The Change - Greater Control to Microsoft

What this latest change to a new service-and-update strategy means is essentially more control for Microsoft that may not be noticed by many consumers but will be noticed by IT Departments. It marks a major change in enterprise environments in the deployment, updating and managing of Windows.

This new ‘branch model’ system from Microsoft means that security and feature updates are tested internally and are made available to Windows Insiders. 

For consumers, devices are known as ‘Current Branch’ (CB) when Microsoft is satisfied that the updates are ready they are then pushed to the devices where consumers receive them as immediate Windows updates. 

For Businesses and enterprises who are the Current Branch for Business (CBB) their hardware can receive the updates immediately but they can also defer for a period of time. This means that many issues will have been identified by Microsoft Insiders and by consumers (CB) so that IT Departments still have at least some scope (but less than in the past) to develop strategies to counter problems before the updates are mandatory.

Problems

The fact that the changes are new to IT Departments means that there is uncertainty about how things are going to actually work in practice, plus Windows hasn’t completed the Windows Update for Business (WUB) tools for organizations that have adopted the CBB update pace.

This large shift of power towards Microsoft is reported to be causing unhappiness and concern in IT Departments, and there is currently a 5000+ name petition on change.org asking for more information from Microsoft and requesting a change to how updates will be delivered.

Not Unusual Today

This may mark a more aggressive approach from Microsoft but it’s not unusual in the broader marketplace. iOS, Android and Chrome OS all limit IT's ability to manage their update processes to varying degrees. Chrome for example is essentially updated by Google across all of the devices running it. iOS and Android were originally met with some scepticism and / or hostility by many IT departments. In the case of iOS, IT Departments are already dealing with an update process that gives them very short lead times e.g. approximately 3 months for big updates.

Better Lead Times With Windows

At least in the case of Windows 10 there is still the opportunity for IT Departments to defer updates allowing some time for testing, even though Windows deployments are likely to be more complicated than iOS or Android and are likely to involve a lot of PCs. 

Inevitable

Enterprises can of course choose to delay the transition to Windows 10 to allow them to learn how to manage the update process but the move is going to become a reality in the not too distant future. Putting feelings about it aside, preparation by IT Departments does seem to be the best course of action in order to make the transition as painless as possible.