Microsoft slows down Windows 10 update pace for businesses following complaints

Microsoft is altering its support cycle for businesses running Windows 10. The software maker currently releases two major Window 10 updates per year, and businesses have 18 months before they need to move from one to another more recent update. It’s all part of Microsoft’s “Windows as a service” push, and it’s designed to ensure Windows 10 gets new features instead of the previous three-year cycle for Windows releases. But it’s been a little too fast for some businesses.

Some businesses have complained that they need more time and flexibility to update Windows 10, and IT admins are tasked with ensure apps work with the latest update. Microsoft is releasing new cloud-based tools to ease app compatibility testing, and the company is also giving IT admins more time to update. All currently supported feature updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education editions will be supported for 30 months from their current release. The existing policy is 18 months, so this bump brings support closer to what IT admins were used to in the Windows 7 and earlier days.

There are some slight catches, though. All future updates of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education that are released every September will be supported for 30 months, but the March updates will be limited to 18 months. Microsoft says this “retains flexibility for customers that want to stay current.” The changes do mean businesses now have an extra year to apply the latest feature updates of Windows 10 if they stick to the September cycle, and that will be a welcome change to those who have complex environments.

“You’ve been talking, and we’ve been listening,” says Jared Spataro, corporate vice president of Microsoft 365. “We recognize that it takes time to both upgrade devices and operationalize new update processes. Today’s announcements are designed to respond to your feedback and make it easier, faster, and cheaper to deploy a modern desktop.”

Windows 10 Pro and Home, the versions typically used by most consumers, are unaffected by today’s changes. Feature updates for these operating systems will continue to be supported for 18 months.

Comments

This is welcomed news.

I’ve never worked in an enterprise environment despite being a Software Engineer for almost 10 years. I’ve don’t understand why they are so much opposed to upgrades.

I’ve always wondered what is so complex that they need up to 30 months to test things. Is it simply because the IT managers don’t have enough resources or is it more of a financial issue?

I’m glad I’ve always worked in shops where no one cares what platform / operating system / version you’re running as long as you get your job done. I couldn’t imagine not having the right to choose my own set of tools and be productive at the same time.

Sure that works (or at least should work) for highly skilled people like you.

It absolutely doesn’t work across an entire large organisation where everything needs to be very tightly controlled to allow people to actually get work done.

I think you mean NOT get work done. I know at my work the computers are so locked down that we can’t even open the task manager when a program hangs so we have to wait about a half an hour for the program to fail by itself which brings us down from two computers to one.

There is a middle group – I agree it’s certainly possible to lock things down too much

Yeah, my works like that. Everything super locked down, and we are forced to use Internet Explorer. We are also still on The first version of Windows 10 build 1511.Being so locked down definitely can be a problem. Especially for Software Devs.

Sure, I’ll try and shed light:

It’s very difficult to maintain reliable performance and compatibility, especially in environments where business units have dozens of unique desktop apps (regardless of delivery, be it via the browser, Citrix or a "fat client"), when there are constant changes to the OS being produced by Microsoft.

The irony is that keeping systems secure is another important mission of any world class IT unit and constant patching is a cornerstone of security and compliance. So in actuality the goal should be to find the middle ground. Patch systems on a schedule with proper release management practices (ie: don’t push all updates out at same time) and secure the perimeter as much as possible to reduce risk during the times in which systems don’t have all the current patching.

I get that IT administrators need to test things to make sure everything works smoothly, but do they really need up to 2.5 years for that testing? I obviously have no experience with this but I feel like even just 1 year should be more than enough for this kind of testing.

Some times there’s an critical application that doesn’t work, and the vendor of said software will drag their feet on resolving the issue. So it’s not always something they IT Department can handle themselves. Large organizations have dozens of different software titles used across different departments.

Not to mention, we had an issue where we had to delay the 1709 rollout because of a McAfee compatibility issue.

but do they really need up to 2.5 years for that testing?

Some do, yes. Being under resourced means you push these projects out again and again. This is more common than it should be.

Sometimes there is software or hardware that’s not supported for newer builds of Windows. It can take a lot of time and/or money to switch to another solution.

It’d be ok if we could assume all software would work, but it doesn’t and in many cases critical business applications will take months to support a Windows build following Microsoft releasing it to market. I’m working in a hospital and one system I manage is ‘working towards’ getting a 3 month window following an update being offered for broad adoption (which itself is well after the builds gold). Thats one system. We have dozens and dozens of applications and Healthcare isn’t entirely unlike some other sectors where you may still find systems that were designed two decades ago and are being band aided along the way to retain support. They’re solid if the environments stable, but Windows 10 updates can and do break things.

Hell 1709 had a KB stating ‘some x86 apps may be unstable and randomly crash’ and not much else for MONTHS following release. That makes people pretty nervous when an apps critical and MS itself doesn’t know the issue but its bad enough for them to raise a KB to alert people. If MS can’t tell you what the issue is with something as broad as x86 software, imagine what that does to an IT teams testing.

If you’re just running Office, web browsers and one or two apps then I’m sure its easy to push updates out. It’s different when it’s 100’s. Never mind the logistics of the OS updates itself, updating apps that need updates to support the OS and the like.

I’ve always wondered what is so complex that they need up to 30 months to test things

When you have too many projects and not enough resources to do them.

Not everyone spends what they should on their IT budgets.

It’s hard to balance both consumer and corporate customer needs at once.

It shouldn’t be Microsoft considering how they are one of the few who should be able to balance both considering they are an old company, and have been established in both arenas for decades. This should be something they already have done.

I don’t think they’ve ever kept their corporate customers upgrading at such a pace as this.

I’m also thinking how slow corporate customers are to upgrade … from Windows 7, for example, or to use Ribbon … how long it took them to get off IE6 … Microsoft’s experience in this arena has amounted to "OK, you pay higher rates (including extended support for unsupported products) so you can upgrade as slowly as you want".

It’s hard to balance both consumer and corporate customer needs at once.

I don’t see how. My needs at work and at home are exactly the same.

Do you work in IT?

Yes but that isn’t what I use my home PC for.

Does all the PCs in your company run the latest version of windows?

No, we evaluate every second release so are on 1709 at the moment.

That said for my home usage there is no difference between 1709 and 1803 (aside from the ‘Fix blurry apps’ popup every time I wake my HTPC up)

If your computing needs "exactly the same", you belong to a very small minority.

Explain why you think so.

I need a stable environment that allows me to run whichever applications I need to. I don’t see how that is in any way niche.

What do you do? (what is your job).

I’m a business analyst at a small (~80 seat) government agency

We are an almost entirely MS shop on SA and run a variety of apps both web and deployed

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