Microsoft Declares Windows 10 Creators Update Ready for Business; Confirms new Release Channels

Microsoft Declares Windows 10 Creators Update Ready for Business; Confirms new Release Channels

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that the Windows 10 Creators Update, which was first made available back in April of this year, is now being pushed out to all Windows 10 customers with compatible hardware.

According to John Cable, the Director of Program Management for Windows Servicing and Delivery, the update will begin showing up on Windows Update for those eligible devices.

Alongside of this wide scale release, Microsoft declared the the Creators Update was ready for broad deployment by business and enterprise customers. The Redmond company also confirmed the naming changes around their servicing branches for Windows 10 that were previously discussed.

Before we discuss how this impacts commercial customers, let's talk about the naming changes that have been made.

Current Branch (CB) and Current Branch for Business (CBB) now become the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC)

"These are the twice-per-year feature update releases, targeting March and September, designed for the broad population of general-purpose PCs used throughout organizations.  Each of these releases will be serviced for 18 months from the date of release."

Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) becomes Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC)

"These are less frequent releases, expected every 2-3 years (with the next one expected in 2019), designed for special-purpose PCs such as those used in point-of-sale systems or controlling factory or medical equipment.  Each of these releases will be serviced for 10 years from the date of release."

Office 365 will also be released on a semiannual basis, targeting March and September, in conjunction with new Windows 10 feature updates in the Semi-Annual Channel.

Microsoft will make new feature updates in the Semi-Annual Channel available to targeted consumer devices immediately following its release and that same update will be available to commercial customers at the same time.

Following a feature update release, Microsoft monitors consumer upgrades across the globe to keep an eye out for any issues relating to specific hardware or other snags. They then proactively control what devices might see the update from Windows Update until those installation/upgrade issues are resolved.

Under the new Semi-Annual Channel process, Microsoft recommends that commercial customers take the same approach by upgrading a pre-selected collection of devices to test app, hardware, and network compatibility. After your organization confirms everything is ready to continue then roll that update out to all your end points.

They summarize this process in a graphic which they recommend as a cyclic approach to Windows as a Service in businesses:

Windows as a Service Cycle

Image via Microsoft

In this announcement, Microsoft used the term empowering organizations when they discussed making the decision when and how to deploy a new feature update to Windows 10.

In the past, including this week's announcement around the Creators Update, they have normally declared an update ready for businesses. Even with that endorsement from Microsoft, it was still up to these businesses and organizations to make the final decisions to proceed with a broad deployment of any update.

That does not change with this shift to Semi-Annual Channel updates and it would seem that Microsoft may no longer make these declarations of readiness anymore in the future.

Even if an organization takes three months for evaluating a new feature update, Microsoft will have collected telemetry and issued three monthly cumulative updates in that time frame to stabilize the system by addressing lingering bugs or performance issues.

Each Semi-Annual Channel release will be supported for 18 months so commercial customers could still choose to only take onboard one feature update per year and still stay within the support window for updates, etc.

In addition to all the news about WaaS, Microsoft also confirmed that Windows 10 Version 1511, the first feature update released for the OS back in November of 2015, will see its support end on 10 October 2017 - that month's Patch Tuesday. The end of servicing date, as Microsoft calls it, means a final set of patches will be issued for Windows 10 Version 1511 on that day and then nothing starting in November 2017.

You can read more about these announcements and changes with these resources:

Windows 10 Creators Update fully available for all Windows 10 customers

Windows as a service: Simplified and Aligned

Updates to the Windows as a Service Model (Video)

Windows and Office align feature release schedules to benefit customers

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But, wait...there's probably more so be sure to follow me on Twitter and Google+.

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