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Microsoft swings security patch stick to keep customers up-to-date on Windows 10

Gregg Keizer | June 15, 2015
Microsoft has confirmed that it will use security updates — or more accurately, the refusal to serve them to customers — as the stick to keep businesses in line with Windows 10's accelerated tempo of feature and functionality upgrades.

Microsoft has confirmed that it will use security updates — or more accurately, the refusal to serve them to customers — as the stick to keep businesses in line with Windows 10's accelerated tempo of feature and functionality upgrades.

Experts had assumed that the Redmond, Wash. company would threaten Windows 10 users with a no-patches policy if they didn't keep up with the OS's constant updates and upgrades. Microsoft has often told customers that if they didn't do A or B or Y or Z — like migrate to Windows 8.1 Update or dump Internet Explorer 8 — they would not receive future vulnerability fixes.

"I think any vendor will find it's to their advantage to get users to upgrade, and they will also find a stick when time comes to get people to move," predicted Andrew Storms, vice president of security services at New Context, a San Francisco-based security consultancy, in a recent interview.

According to Helen Harmetz, a Microsoft senior product marketing manager who spoke during a 20-minute webinar on Windows 10 — initially made available to registered partners on April 30 — Microsoft will let customers who adopt the Current Branch for Business (CCB) postpone deployment of a specific build no more than eight months. Failure to meet that deadline will mean a patch cutoff.

WindowsITPro obtained a copy of the webinar, and first reported on Harmetz's comments.

"Customers who are embracing Current Branch for Business do need to consume that feature update within the allotted time period of approximately eight months or they will not be able to see and consume the next security update. So there is a consumption that has to happen here," Harmetz said.

Harmetz filled in some of the blank spots that exist in the execution of Microsoft's update and upgrade practice for Windows 10, which will be radically different than prior editions, like Windows 7 or even Windows 8.

Microsoft will offer several update tracks — it calls them "branches" — rather than the one-size-fits-all approach of the past, when it presented updates to everyone, whether consumers or massive corporations, at or almost at the same time.

The first to get feature and functionality changes will be devices on the Current Branch, the speediest of the three and aimed at consumers, although businesses can also select the track for some or all systems if they want to live on the edge. Microsoft has not said how frequently it will issue a new Current Branch, but most analysts have assumed that it could be as often as monthly.

At more-or-less regular intervals Microsoft will declare a Current Branch for Business release, which will follow the same-named Current Branch release by about four months, Harmetz said. During that four-month lag, consumers will be Microsoft's lab rats, testing the updates and filing complaints, which Microsoft will address.

 

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