Windows as a service provides a new way to think about building, deploying, and servicing the Windows operating system. So, if you often find yourself wondering, “Are Windows updates necessary?” Consider this new approach. The Windows as a service model is focused on continually providing new capabilities and updates while maintaining a high level of hardware and software compatibility. Deploying new versions of Windows is simpler than ever before. Microsoft releases new features two to three times per year rather than the traditional upgrade cycle where new features are only made available every few years. Ultimately, this model replaces the need for traditional Windows deployment projects.
Prior to Windows 10, Microsoft released new versions of Windows every few years. This traditional deployment schedule imposed a training burden on users because the feature revisions were often significant. That schedule also meant waiting long periods without new features. This scenario doesn’t work well in today’s rapidly changing world. A world in which new security, management, and deployment capabilities are necessary to address challenges. Windows as a service will deliver smaller feature updates two times per year, around March and September, to help address these issues.
Deploying Windows 10 is simpler than with previous versions of Windows. When migrating from earlier versions of Windows, an easy in-place upgrade process can be used to automatically preserve all apps, settings, and data. And once running Windows 10, deployment of Windows 10 feature updates will be equally simple.
One of the biggest challenges for organizations when it comes to deploying a new version of Windows is compatibility testing. Whereas compatibility was previously a concern for organizations upgrading to a new version of Windows, Windows 10 is compatible with most hardware and software capable of running on Windows 7 or later. Because of this high level of compatibility, the app compatibility testing process can be greatly simplified.
Traditional Windows servicing has included several release types:
Major revisions (e.g., the Windows 8.1, Windows 8, and Windows 7 operating systems), service packs, and monthly updates. With Windows 10, there are two release types: feature updates that add new functionality twice per year, and quality updates that provide security and reliability fixes at least once a month. Are Windows updates necessary?
As part of the alignment with Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus, Microsoft is adopting common terminology to make it as easy as possible to understand the servicing process. Going forward, these are the new terms they will be using:
There are many tools with which IT pros can service Windows as a service. Each option has its pros and cons, ranging from capabilities and control to simplicity and low administrative requirements. The following are examples of the servicing tools available to manage Windows as a service updates:
System Center Configuration Manager provides maximum control over quality and feature updates for Windows 10. Unlike other servicing tools, Configuration Manager has capabilities that extend beyond servicing, such as application deployment, antivirus management, software metering, and reporting. Configuration Manager can effectively control bandwidth usage and content distribution through a combination of BranchCache and distribution points. Microsoft encourages organizations currently using Configuration Manager for Windows update management to continue doing so for Windows 10 client computers.
You can use Configuration Manager to service Windows 10 devices in two ways. The first option is to use Windows 10 Servicing Plans to deploy Windows 10 feature updates automatically based on specific criteria, similar to an Automatic Deployment Rule for software updates. The second option is to use a task sequence to deploy feature updates, along with anything else in the installation.
Windows servicing is changing. For disaster recovery scenarios and bare-metal deployments of Windows 10, you still can use traditional imaging software such as System Center Configuration Manager or the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit. Using these tools to deploy Windows 10 images is similar to deploying previous versions of Windows. With each release of a new feature update for CB, Microsoft makes available new .iso files for use in updating your custom images. Each Windows 10 build has a finite servicing lifetime, so it’s important that images stay up to date with the latest build.