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FAQ: How Microsoft will update Windows 10

Gregg Keizer | June 16, 2015
It's a complicated process, different than past decades, but offers more options for some customers

Microsoft will create rings — there's that word again — within CB that deliver updates on varying timetables. The company hasn't said how many rings CB will offer or what they will be named, but the Windows Insider program — the current preview program that will continue after Windows 10's launch — has a "fast" ring and a "slow" ring. Expect those two at least.

Customers on the CB fast ring will receive the every-four-months-or-so updates first, probably as soon as Microsoft greenlights the refresh. Those on a slow ring will get it later. It's unclear how much later, but one CB update must be distributed before the next arrives, and since it's likely that updates will arrive every four months, logically a slower ring will deliver the update before that span ends.

Why would I want to delay a CB update? I like new stuff! Good for you. But there is a solid reason why a slow CB ring might be smart.

Whether it's because Microsoft wants to expand feedback (its rationale) or simply wants to shift the testing burden from its engineers to users (the cynic's view), the company will employ customers to shake out bugs more than ever before.

The company hasn't been shy about saying so. "Enterprises will be able to receive feature updates after their quality and application compatibility has been assessed in the consumer market," Jim Alkove, director of program management for Microsoft's enterprise group, said in a January blog post [emphasis added].

If you'd prefer others to put on the lab rat fur, so you receive the update only after Microsoft's identified and fixed some of the bugs, adopt a slower CB ring.

I'll say it again ... I like new stuff. Again, good for you.

If you enjoy the bleeding edge, you can remain in, or register with, the Windows Insider program, which will continue serving changes as soon as Microsoft approves them for the previewing public. Windows Insiders will be the first line of outside testers — Microsoft says it runs updates internally first — and get updates before any other customers.

Windows Insider will not be shut down after Windows 10's release — that's what Microsoft has done in the past with beta programs — but will continue indefinitely as the OS's fastest update branch.

You can join the program at this website.

So that's it? CB or nothing? No, even if you use a home-based Windows 10 device.

Microsoft's second branch, dubbed Current Branch for Business (CBB) offers more flexibility in update timing, although like CB, it's an automatically-delivered deal that doesn't let you parse updates into take-some-leave-some pieces.


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