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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

CBB, as the name implies, targets businesses, but anyone with a PC or other device running Windows 10 Pro — the more expensive and more capable retail and pre-installed SKU — can adopt this branch. That will include those who take the free upgrade from Windows 7 Professional or Windows 7 Ultimate, or from Windows 8.1 Pro.

(Microsoft's not actually said as much, but unless the company pulls out some magic, a Windows 10 Pro device is a Windows 10 Pro device, no matter where it happens to sit, whether inside a company or on a consumer's dining room table.)

CBB will rely on Windows Update for Business (WUB) — tired of the acronyms yet? — a new service that Microsoft announced in early May at its inaugural Ignite conference. WUB is the business-grade version of Windows Update, and like the latter, will insure that all users get each update.

Consumers with a Windows 10 Pro-based device will receive each update about four months after it's been issued to consumers on the CB. Microsoft figures that the four months will shake out even more bugs — consumers as testers, deux — so that business users, or at least those running Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise — will see a more stable update with a correspondingly lower risk of something breaking.

That's the theory, anyway.

Anyone who relies strictly on WUB for CBB updates must install said updates within four months — before the next one appears, in other words — or be bumped off Microsoft's security patch list.

So, with CBB, consumers with Windows 10 Pro can postpone an update for up to eight months: the four used by CB plus the four for CBB on WUB.

Confused yet?

When do security updates reach me? As part of my CB or CBB updates? No. Security updates are a horse of a different color.

Think of the CB and CBB updates as delivering feature, functionality, UI and UX changes only. Security updates — the vulnerability fixes that since 2003 have been issued the second Tuesday of each month, or "Patch Tuesday" — are not associated with these updates.

Instead, Microsoft will issue patches on an ongoing basis, security experts have concluded in the absence of clarity from Redmond. Rather than hold completed fixes until the next Patch Tuesday, Microsoft will release them as work concludes.

Microsoft may not have spelled it out yet, but assume that patches will be automatically downloaded and applied to CB-managed devices immediately, not every four months as will be feature updates. It's unclear whether Current Branch for Business devices will receive them simultaneously through Windows Update for Business — again, Microsoft has made much of how consumers will be the test group — but it would be very odd if they were not.


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