18 Sep

Microsoft has listened to corporate SaaS Windows 10 clients and slowed down the rate of patches and updates that it is sending out, thereby giving company admins more time to catch up.

What’s The Problem?

For many enterprise / corporate customers, two feature upgrades for Windows 10 a year is proving too much to keep up with, resulting in many admins now saying that they’ve barely got the time to deal with one upgrade before another one comes along, thereby leading to the temptation to skip every other update.

Those tasked with managing the updates also say that the updates themselves often create more bugs and problems, and that having to spend time managing these additional problems actually distracts and diverts resources away from the focus of the business, thereby creating an opportunity cost that is too high. Many companies also resent having to fit-in with Microsoft’s schedule rather than their own.

Illustrated By Survey

The feelings of 1,100 company admins about the Windows 10 upgrade schedule are illustrated by the results of a survey conducted by Susan Bradley, who moderates the PatchManagement.org mailing list. The results show that 78% of those charged with carrying out servicing Windows for their firms said that Windows 10’s feature upgrades should be issued no more than once a year.

Only 11% of those surveyed said that they would prefer a twice-a-year release, and only 1% wanted more frequent upgrades than that.

What’s Been Happening?

Currently, the feature upgrades take place twice a year. This hasn’t always been the case, with four being envisioned but two being released in 2015, one upgrade (1607) being issued in 2016, and then a formal announcement by Microsoft that there would be a twice-yearly upgrade schedule. This meant that there were two in 2017, (1703 in April and 1709 October), and there’s been one (1803) in April this year, with another one scheduled for October.

Also, Microsoft has changed the extending of its support from 18 months to 24 months for Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education, and then moved it back to 18 months again in April. This has caused problems for some customers with their patching schedule.

What Now?

It appears that Microsoft has listened to its customers and to the results of the survey, and Microsoft will now be taking some of the pressure off by offering companies 30 months (two and a half years). This new, extended deadline will apply to Enterprise and Education editions of the Windows 10 OS and applies only to the Autumn/Fall release. The Spring update will stay at 18 months e.g. after Redstone 5 next month, this will be supported until Spring 2022.

However, for the 19U1 update six months later, it will only have 18 months support (until autumn 2021). In essence, this means that customers can now upgrade at least every two years, with six months to play with if necessary between updates. Home and Professional editions will continue an 18-month cycle.

Support For Windows 7 – For A Price

Microsoft has also listened to the fact that 40% of the world’s computers, mostly in corporate environments, are still running Windows 7. Even though it was initially thought that it would reach end of life (EOL) on 14th January 2020, Microsoft has announced that it will carry on supporting Windows 7 for users willing to pay.

What Does This Mean For Your Business?

Businesses have been telling Microsoft for the last two years that they have been struggling to keep up with the schedule of feature updates / upgrades that Microsoft has set, so it is good news that the tech giant appears to be listening to its customers by giving them a longer grace period. This latest move from Microsoft will also mean that many enterprise customers will not need to consider opting for LTSB i.e. receiving only security and hotfixes, and no new features for ten years.

It is also good news for many companies that have not yet made the upgrade to Windows 10 and are still running Windows 7 that they will at least have the prospect of extended support, even though (as may be expected) they will have to pay for it.