Microsoft Adjusts Windows 10 Update Schedule for Businesses Again

Posted on September 6, 2018 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 14 Comments

Microsoft today announced that it is once again extending the Windows 10 version support lifecycle in order to meet the demands of its biggest business customers.

“Today we are evolving our servicing approach [again] to provide even greater flexibility at no incremental cost for customers who need more time to test and deploy Windows 10 Enterprise and Education feature updates,” Microsoft corporate vice president Jared Spataro explains.

The new support schedule is a bit confusing, but of course it is, this is Microsoft.

The short explanation is that Windows 10 Enterprise/Education is moving to an R2-type servicing model where feature updates scheduled for March will continue to be supported for 18 months, but those scheduled for September will be supported for 30 months. (Some might argue this is an LTSB, or long-term servicing branch, type model. Same idea. I just mean R2 from a servicing perspective.)

Microsoft originally tried to jam a new version of Windows 10 down businesses’ throats every 18 months. But as I had predicted, that schedule was beyond ridiculous given that most enterprises rarely update at a pace faster than once every several years. So they “adjusted” that schedule back in February. And they are adjusting it again, this week. And they will absolutely make further changes.

But, only for businesses. And only, really, for the biggest of businesses. The enterprise.

And it is this pay for pay strategy that really bothers me. Most consumers can’t do a thing to prevent a Windows 10 feature update—which is really a major version upgrade—from installing on their PCs. Windows 10 Home literally provides no formal way to do this. But Windows 10 Pro is a bit more permissive, as it lets users pause Windows 10 feature updates temporarily.

In Microsoft terminology, the support lifecycle for Windows 10 Home and Pro is unchanged: In both cases, any given Windows 10 version (1803, 1809, etc.) is supported with security and bug fixes for 18 months. Not that it matters to Windows 10 Home users, since most will be pushed—willing or not—to a new version every six months.

You know. Because Windows is a service.*

* He says sarcastically.


Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (15)

15 responses to “Microsoft Adjusts Windows 10 Update Schedule for Businesses Again”

  1. mikemeltz

    Hi Paul - Do you have the link to the Microsoft post about this change?

  2. pargon

    Android phones update yearly without any option. In fact, my nexus 6p will keep the "install new update" on the notifications list until I install it. Can't get rid of the thing. Windows 10 clearly is a service and has gotten drastically better since launch. I think maybe it annoys you much more than the average user because you're always installing new builds, getting new computers to test and constantly updating one of the many PC's in the house. Of all the 6 PC's in my house, including 5 year plus high end and super budget machines that I am responsible for, only once over the years has there been an issue updating....a quick bios flash fixed it after the original November Update.

    • eric_rasmussen

      In reply to Pargon:

      As much as I criticize its flaws, I have to agree that Windows 10 has gotten much better over time. I love the new "Fluent UI" changes that they have been making. One of my biggest gripes about Windows 10 has been the weird mixing of old and new UIs that leads to inconsistencies all over the place. I recently had to bring an old Windows XP machine back online to recover some old files, and I hate to say it but the experience was actually kind of refreshing. Everything was internally consistent UI-wise, and the whole thing felt snappy for being on an old PC. I think Windows 10 will get there, but as it is today it still feels a bit like a work in progress. For the parts that have been updated, they're beautiful - major kudos to the UI/UX teams within Microsoft who came up with this design!

      • pargon

        In reply to Eric_Rasmussen:

        Agreed, and much of the changes are useful. I use the nightlight feature and have used paint 3D for some simple engineering assignments to make a lab safety poster or just to play with. The major updates to me that are worthwhile is the under the hood stuff, updates take far less time now, restarts are less often, settings has more functionality easily searchable. Edge may actually be ready for prime time for me at this point, my surface pro 3 chews through the battery with Chrome and lasts much longer with edge.

        The UI has gotten substantially prettier and more consistent though it's an ongoing issue. I for one haven't had any blue screens or issues with updates in years, I'd say the majority of people with modern PC's probably feel the same. Not sure why we give google and apple a pass when they brick phones every few months with an update. Android is just as complicated as Windows in many respects....yet Microsoft is the only one that isn't able to provide SAAS without infuriating the bloggers.

        When I was growing up I'd wipe my Windows 98 SE machine every 3 months, it was so bogged down by windows rot. With a 5 year old Core i5, I have not experienced any noticeable slowdown and never worry about needing to "refresh the PC". I only reboot my PC every 3-5 months outside of an update that requires a reboot. My Android phone though, couple months and it's significantly slower and I restart it much more frequently to clear out RAM being held hostage by apps.

  3. skane2600

    Of course forced updates can be as big a problem for consumers as it is for enterprises, but the former group has little leverage.

  4. Intara

    Yes, this is an interesting kind of service: you have to pay in order not to be bothered by it. Which then again is to be considered a service.

  5. OldITPro2000

    This will change again for sure. I suspect Pro will go out to the exact same timeframes as Education/Enterprise for September releases next (30 months). It would eliminate confusion and help the majority of businesses that are on Pro.

  6. mbouchar

    No wonder, Windows 10 updates doesn't work at all in simple one user setup (my wife). It sure can't work in a complex enterprise environment. If the updates were working correctly (as in Google Chrome update), that would be OK, but I don't think business users would be happy about broken printer or wireless drivers, lost network connections, uninstalled programs (for no reason), unterminable update times (with constant rollbacks), broken mouse, unable to open the startup menu, etc.

    • wright_is

      In reply to mbouchar:

      Complex enterprises uses SCCM and WSUS to manage update rollout and can block PCs from checking Microsoft for updates, only rolling out approved updates. We use WSUS, but not SCCM, and we control what updates get applied when - with Group Polciy you can also stop Windows 10 phoning home for missing updates and only use WSUS.

      That means a test group that gets everything as soon as it is released and then, once everything is running smoothly, we can push out the updates to the other groups - and certain groups get no or only critical updates, if they are running legacy software, for example.

      It also means we can delay updates on production servers, for example, to see if there are any major issues with the update, before they get rolled out.

      We aren't even a big company, big companies have even more options (additional configuration tools that cost money) open to them.

      That said, I have updated over 200 machines to the 1803 update so far and haven't had a single issue with updates rolling back or application being uninstalled, broken drivers etc.

  7. wright_is

    If you are a small business using WSUS and a Domain, you can set the group policy to only accept updates over WSUS and not to occassionally look at Microsoft's servers for missing updates - in the standard configuration, Windows 10 Pro / Enterprise will take its updates from WSUS, but still check Microsoft's server every few months, to see if anything "critical", like the bi-annual updates, are outstanding; so it is important to ensure that both options are set.

Leave a Reply