Thursday, 25 June 2015

Windows 10 as a Service

For all the new editions check out our Windows 10 article, we look at all the new editions.

Now lets concentrate on the 'as a service' aspect. Windows 10 updates will include a little more than patches, bug fixes, security updates etc. They plan to deliver new features, improvements, new technology and the usual, all in the updates; And there will be plenty of them as well. Update Tuesdays won't disappear, in fact it will turn into something marvelous! You're copy of windows will be re-invigorated every Tuesday on the dot, sound good?

Many consumers today expect their devices to receive ongoing feature updates without having to take any action. However, Microsoft understands that businesses require more control in how updates are delivered, and at what pace.

For example, systems powering hospital emergency rooms, air traffic control towers, financial trading systems, factory floors, just to name a few, may need very strict change management policies, for prolonged periods of time. To support Windows 10 devices in these mission critical customer environments Microsoft will provide Long Term Servicing branches at the appropriate time intervals. On these branches, customer devices will receive the level of enterprise support expected for the mission critical systems, keeping systems more secure with the latest security and critical updates, while minimizing change by not delivering new features for the duration of mainstream (five years) and extended support (five years). On Long Term Servicing branches, customers will have the flexibility to deliver security updates and fixes via Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) or to receive these updates automatically via Windows Update.  WSUS  allows full control over the internal distribution of updates using existing management solutions such as System Center Configuration Manager.

Microsoft also learned from customers that while having control of mission critical environments is important; they also have many end user devices that are not necessarily mission-critical. Managing those devices as mission critical systems results in significant, unnecessary costs and complexity, while additionally depriving business users of access to the latest functionality. Many IT organizations have told Microsoft that they would like to get out of the business of managing end-user devices. They are looking for ways to keep devices up to-date with more discretion than simply treating them the same way they treat consumer devices.

To that end, Microsoft is introducing a new approach for business customers, which Microsoft is referring to as the Current branch for Business. By putting devices on the Current branch for Business, enterprises will be able to receive feature updates after their quality and application compatibility has been assessed in the consumer market, while continuing to receive security updates on a regular basis. This gives IT departments’ time to start validating updates in their environments the day changes are shipped broadly to consumers, or in some cases earlier, if they have users enrolled in the Windows Insider Program. By the time Current branch for Business machines are updated, the changes will have been validated by millions of Insiders, consumers and customers’ internal test processes for several months, allowing updates to be deployed with this increased assurance of validation. Enterprises will be able to decide if they want to receive updates automatically via Windows Update, Windows Update for Business, or via WSUS to have control through management tools over how the updates are distributed in their environments.

Businesses choosing to take advantage of connecting end user machines to Windows Update may experience a reduction in management costs, quicker access to security updates and critical fixes and access to the latest innovation from Microsoft on an ongoing basis.

Devices on the Current Branch will receive updates via Windows Update.  Current Branch indicates only the cadence of updates, not the content of the features.  Home, Pro and Enterprise editions will receive feature updates that are appropriate for the edition.  For example, a change to the Start Menu would be deployed to the Current Branch across all editions, however a new feature related to Enterprise Data Protection would only be deployed to Pro and Enterprise editions.

Devices on the Current Branch for Business (CBB) can receive updates in three ways: Windows Update, Windows Update for Business, or WSUS/third party deployment tools.  A device on CBB connected to Windows Update will receive the feature updates when Microsoft declares an update “Business Ready”.  Customers using Windows Update for Business or WSUS will be able to schedule the updates to deploy onto CBB devices.

Microsoft announced on May 4, 2015 that the following enhancements will be built to Windows Update:

  • Deferral of feature updates – customers will be able to configure Windows Update to defer feature updates for up to eight months. 
  • Ability to create internal deployment groups – customers will be able to stage deployment of updates by setting up enterprise groups in their environment.  
  • Bandwidth savings optimization – Customers will be able to have update caching and have fan-out distribution capabilities for updates

Keeping non-mission critical end user devices on the Current branch for Business, while receiving updates via Windows Update for Business, is a best practice for Windows 10 that we recommend for many enterprise users.

For more advice and help on deploying Windows 10 and the various Update models, please contact your Systems Assurance Account Manager or call 0114 292 2911.