Windows as a Service is the delivery of new operating system features using new and existing technologies. Microsoft are defining Windows users into several categories; consumer devices, business users and special systems.
A rapidly changing workplace environment means that users are working from more locations and are using more devices to do their work. As a result, the days of working 9-5 at an office on a single device are rapidly diminishing. Historically, IT departments have had difficulty adopting these new ways of working as managing these devices present their own unique challenges. Common concerns include:
- There needs to be sufficient time to test new updates
- Upgrades may break existing applications in the environment
- Deployments can be complex and expensive, particularly when rolling out a new operating system
IT departments often want to provide agility so that they can adopt new technology quicker while still maintaining control on how that technology is managed and updated. Microsoft are planning to address these types of adoption challenges in Windows 10 with the introduction of ‘Windows as a Service’.
Windows as a Service user types
Consumer devices are typically BYOD and CYOD and receive regular updates via Windows Update and a large and diverse user base allows for higher quality releases of new Windows features. On the other end of the spectrum are special systems which are critical systems that cannot be regularly updated and require greater control. These systems can be put on a ‘long term servicing branch’ ad will still receive regular security updates. Business users can have consumer devices and often use these devices to perform personal and business work, while often have stricter control as defined by the IT department.
Windows Update for Business
As a result, business users are often treated like special systems as company policies and requirements can enforce strict standard operating environments meaning that they can miss out on the latest technology. Microsoft are addressing this with Windows Update for Business which introduces the following features:
- Roll out rings (similar to the Windows Insider program)
- Maintenance Windows to control when these updates are released
- Peer to peer delivery of updates to reduce bandwidth usage
- Integration with MDT/System Center Configuration Manager
Roll out rings allow IT departments to define who gets new Windows feature updates and how often they’re deployed and Maintenance Windows allow the control of when these updates are installed.
Updates delivered via peer to peer technology which can be controlled via Group Policy
There are several internal and external roll out rings that provide significant testing of updates before they are released to businesses which greatly reduces the risk of issues being introduced into the environment. Organisations can then define their own internal roll out rings to provide more granular control of how these updates are delivered.
Companies can define their own roll out rings using Windows Update for Business
Special systems can join the ‘long term servicing’ branch which will provide security updates and fixes for up to 10 years delivered regularly on a monthly schedule via WSUS. Systems on the Long Term Servicing Branch can opt to skip Windows feature updates for the duration of the servicing branch.
Long Term Servicing Branch for special systems
This is just a small insight into how updates will be delivered to Windows 10. Stay tuned for more updates as we get closer to the final release.