Microsoft’s latest Operating System, Windows 10, has been around for a while now and is their official ‘Windows as a Service’ offering. This means that they will continually update that Operating System, in situ, rather than release new full versions as they have done in the past.
What do you need to know?
Firstly, Microsoft have made the move to predictable releases, twice per year. These are called Semi-Annual Channel Releases and they will be released every Spring and Autumn of each year from now on. The target for those is generally around the March and September timeframe although the exact timing of that can vary depending on when those new releases are ready.
Each of the new releases will be serviced by Microsoft (meaning they will support it and continue to release security updates for it) for 18 months from the date of release. So, a version released in Spring 2018 will be serviced until Autumn 2019. You are then into a constant cycle of 6-monthly releases of new versions and 18-monthly end of support for previous versions. Businesses will need to continue to move forward and continue deploying these new feature updates so you continue to stay serviced, supported and secure.
Some new terms have been introduced as part of Windows as a Service, so you should know what these terms mean: –
· Feature updates will be released twice per year, around March and September. As the name suggests, these will add new features to Windows 10, delivered in bite-sized chunks compared to the previous practice of Windows releases every 3-5 years.
· Quality updates are released monthly, delivering both security and non-security fixes. These are cumulative, so installing the latest quality update is sufficient to get all the available fixes for a specific Windows 10 feature update.
· Insider Preview builds are made available during the development of the features that will be shipped in the next feature update, enabling organisations to validate new features as well as compatibility with existing apps and infrastructure, providing feedback to Microsoft on any issues encountered.
· Servicing channels allow organisations to choose when to deploy new features.
o The Semi-Annual Channel receives feature updates twice per year.
o The Long-Term Servicing Channel, which is designed to be used only for specialised devices (which typically don’t run Office) such as those that control medical equipment or ATM machines, receives new feature releases every two to three years.
It’s important to note that if a computer running Windows 10 is not updated within the 18-month service period, it will not receive further updates. To stay current, secure and protected it is imperative that the Operating System is kept up to date.