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Microsoft to deliver Windows 10's business update service in stages

Gregg Keizer | Aug. 28, 2015
Signals that Windows Update for Business won't be complete until 2016.

For longer postponements, customer IT staffs must use something other than WUB to process upgrades and updates, specifically Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager (dubbed "Config Manager"), or a third-party patching product. Harmetz made that clear in April, but in last week's video, Niehaus only said -- several times -- that customers on the CBB will be able to delay an update/upgrade for up to 12 months.

The dozen months is a combination of the four-month stretch during which PCs on the CB must adopt the upgrade plus the four-month maximum delay of the CBB plus another four-month delay available to businesses that rely on WSUS, Config Manager or another patch management platform. Harmetz had explained that last third of the 12-month span, but Niehaus did not. In itself, that wasn't surprising, since Microsoft has been hesitant to disclose information about some of Windows 10's underpinnings, a trait it's taken heat for from analysts and customers.

WUB, critical to the middle third of the 12-month term, is only partially complete at this point, Niehaus acknowledged. Among the pieces included in the initial release, he said, are an optional peer-to-peer delivery mechanism -- which has come under fire for its bandwidth sharing -- and the "Defer upgrades" option that drops a PC into the CBB.

More is to come, Niehaus pledged. "We do expect to provide additional features over time to let you define your own rings, to let you do scheduling and maintenance windows, and other capabilities like that," he said in the video. "We will be beefing up that as we move forward down the line."

"Rings" is another term that Microsoft recently added to its update lexicon. The CB and CBB tracks will be further subdivided into multiple tempo rings -- Fast and Slow are best known from the Windows Insider preview channel that's been running nearly a year -- but it's declined to specify the number, name and cadence of those rings.

Niehaus did not illuminate customers there, either, but his mention of rings hints that Microsoft might not define standard rings in WUB for the CBB deployment schedule, and will instead give IT administrators tools so that they can craft their own rings to segment their PC populations into discrete groups.

"We want to enable capabilities where you can build your own rings inside of [Current Branch for Business] and be able to do a phased deployment inside of your organization," said Niehaus.

His commentary also touched on Microsoft's WUB philosophy, and in some ways confirmed analysts' earlier expectations that the service would eventually replace WSUS and Config Manager. "A longer term goal, is really to provide kind of a cloud-based equivalent to what you would do today using WSUS or Config Manager," he said. "We will be adding more capabilities to Windows for Business to make it roughly the equivalent [of WSUS and Config Manager], but without you needing the infrastructure yourselves."


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