Analysts compared LTS and its multiple branches to traditional Windows.
"My understanding is that there will be certain 'branches' that will be similar in concept to the release versions of products we've had in the past," said Gillen. "Call them Windows 10 Release A, Release B, Release C, etc. It could be that Release B will be supported for a 10-year lifecycle. That means that release D, E, and F may all be 'short term' support products. Enterprises would likely land critical deployments on Release B, and sit on it for several years."
"I'd liken [a new LTS] to a major release of the OS, or something like Windows 8.1, a new brand," said Miller of Directions.
"You don't need to be static for 10 years," added Silver. "Organizations will be able to take advantage of new features every few years by deploying a new LTS. That way they can get the benefits without getting functional improvements in dribs and drabs, having to test each update."
Money, money, money
Microsoft has said nothing definitive about what the branches or tracks will cost. But the experts were certain that LTS would come with a price tag. Again last week, Alkove implied a link between Software Assurance (SA) and the update options for businesses, using the phrase "full flexibility to deploy Windows 10" in describing SA.
There was little doubt among analysts that LTS won't be free to all comers. "It sure would seem [that LTS] will be connected to Software Assurance," said Miller, reading between the lines.
Silver, on the other hand, left no wiggle room. "LTS is going to be a major value proposition to sell SA," he said.
The closer-to-consumer tempo of CBB could also be a revenue generator for Microsoft, said Silver, who assumed that Windows 10 Enterprise users will have access to the track. PCs running Windows 10 Pro, too? Maybe.
"I think [CBB rights will be included with Pro], but I wouldn't be surprised if there was some fee or limitation to how it can be done," Silver said. "With Microsoft no longer receiving revenue from Windows upgrades and receiving less money from OEMs, it will be redoubling its efforts to show the value of SA and encourage organizations to buy it."
Miller echoed Silver on Microsoft's need to make up for Windows revenue declines on the consumer and consumer OEM sides. "It will be up for the enterprise to pick up the slack," he said.
"Requiring SA for CBB would be pretty heavy-handed [and] another, perhaps less expensive, program would add complexity to licensing," Silver added. "There will be some catch, but it's not clear what it will be. It won't be a free lunch."
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