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Microsoft touts new update service as way for enterprises to go slow on Windows 10

Gregg Keizer | May 6, 2015
Windows Update for Business to be free for Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise editions; will let corporations take changes at their own pace.

Still unclear is how different the various rings in WUB will be. While Gartner has long maintained that the CBB would let enterprises delay updates for as long as 120 days, Microsoft has not yet confirmed that. The Redmond, Wash. developer has, however, said that Office 2016, which will also receive feature and functionality upgrades over time, can be dialed down to just three refreshes a year, the same 120-day interval Gartner has claimed.

Microsoft may fill in details of Windows 10's CBB tempo during the remaining days of its Ignite conference, perhaps as early as today.

WUB and its presumed CBB ring will let businesses keep pace with Windows 10 changes, but on a more leisurely schedule than consumers. "It gives them a chance for some extra breathing room when an update comes out," Kleynhans said. "Consumers will test it out, but enterprises can control the roll out and decide when it will show up on their devices."

Microsoft has already explicitly told its business customers that consumers -- who will for the most part receive updates when they're released -- will serve as guinea pigs, who will turn up bugs and problems in each Windows 10 update months before enterprises have to commit to the fixes.

WUB, and thus the CBB tempo, will be available for free to any device running Windows 10 Pro or Windows 10 Enterprise. The former is a business-grade edition sold at retail and pre-installed on business PCs; the latter is a version that, until recently, was available only via volume licensing and limited to customers with Software Assurance (SA), the annuity program that gives customers the right to upgrade to any new OS.

The second corporate Windows 10 cadence, called "Long-term servicing branch" (LTS), lets businesses lock down selected devices so that they receive only security updates and critical fixes, but none of the new features, user interface (UI) changes or user experience (UX) improvements. Myerson did not elaborate on how LTS would be implemented.

That lack of clarity signaled that Microsoft intends to limit LTS to Windows 10 Enterprise, said Kleynhans.

"We can safely make the assumption that long-term servicing is something only available to Enterprise," Kleynhans said, reiterating Gartner's long-time opinion that Microsoft would make companies pay to keep updates at bay.

Nor was Kleynhans quite ready to say that as long as businesses stuck to CBB with WUB, they would receive Windows 10 updates and upgrades free of charge for the full 10 years of expected support. "We don't have all the details yet," he said.

Although Myerson made a point to say that WUB would integrate with other update management software, including Microsoft's own System Center and Enterprise Mobility Suite, Kleynhans expected that another standard corporate tool, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), would eventually be retired.

"Windows Update for Business is pretty much the long-term replacement for WSUS because it essentially does the same thing," said Kleynhans.


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