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Microsoft risks IT ire with Windows 10 update push

Ryan Faas | Nov. 9, 2015
Its OS-as-a-service could create headaches for shops used to a slower upgrade pace.

IT pros aren't happy

This marks a massive transition in how Windows is deployed, updated and managed in enterprise environments. Many longtime IT pros won't be comfortable ceding this much control to Microsoft. Susan Bradley, a computer network and security consultant known in Windows circles for her expertise on Microsoft's patching processes, has become a voice for those IT workers.

In August, Bradley kicked off a request on the matter using Microsoft's Windows User Voice site asking for a more detailed explanation of the Windows 10 update process. Last month, she upped the ante by starting a Change.org petition demanding additional information from Microsoft as well as a change to how it will deliver updates. As of this week, the petition has more than 5,000 signatures; some signers have noted that they will refuse to move their organizations to Windows 10 unless changes are implemented.

Change.org petition for Windows 10
A Change.org petition that has collected 1,600 signatures asks Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to make his Windows 10 team provide more information to users about updates, and give customers more control over what they install on their PCs. Credit: Change.org

The impact of the petition remains to be seen. Microsoft has already established that it views its new Windows-as-a-service model, with frequent incremental updates using the branch system, as the future. Windows 10 has already passed the 132-million PC mark and Microsoft appears unapologetic about its plans to pressure users into upgrading to the new OS. All of these factors make it unlikely the company is going reverse course.

This isn't entirely new territory

The new approach to update management is striking compared to the process for previous Windows releases, but it isn't exactly a new model. iOS, Android and Chrome OS all limit IT's ability to manage the update process to one degree or another.

Apple has always placed the user at the center of the iOS upgrade process. When an update becomes available, users can download and install it on day one. iOS 9 introduced the ability for IT to take some control over the process, but only in the opposite direction -- allowing IT to require that devices be updated, a move designed less to ensure IT management of the overall process and more to ensure that iPhones and iPads are running to latest, and therefore most secure, version of iOS.

Things are a bit murkier with Android because each manufacturer and carrier generally has to approve the updates and make them available to users, though ultimately it remains up to the user to upgrade when an update becomes available. The update challenge for Android in the enterprise is less about preventing an update and more about the uncertainty of when (or if) devices can be updated.

 

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