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What 'Windows As A Service' Brings For IT Professionals?

By Victor Thomson , Feb 20, 2017 07:03 AM EST
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The introduction of "Windows as a Service" by Microsoft means difficult changes for IT professionals. (Photo : IT Channel 9 / YouTube)

Microsoft's "Windows as a Service" for Windows 10 means more difficulties for most of the power users and IT professionals. The new rules of deployment for tech giant's latest operating system make managing a Windows-based organization much more confusing.

Microsoft's ‘Windows As A Service'

According to Microsoft's blog, the company introduced a new way to build, deploy, and service Windows alongside its Windows 10 operating system. This new feature is called "Windows as a service." Microsoft claims that the process aims to maintain a consistent Windows 10 experience for its customers and to simplify the lives of IT pros, but the latter are, in fact, encountering difficulties with Windows deployment.

According to ZDNet, even if Microsoft has published several of technical articles covering the new rules, over time some of those details have shifted. For instance, the maximum interval for deferring feature updates was reduced to 180 days in the July 2016 Anniversary Update after being set to eight months when the feature debuted in November 2015. Even for those IT professionals who keep up with deployment news and regularly attend IT-focused conferences, in this new era, it can be difficult to manage a Windows-based organization.

The changes can appear unexpectedly for those who are simply using Windows for day-to-day business. And some IT pros are disturbed by the realization that tried-and-true workflows no longer apply. Longtime Windows admins and users have started to complain because they are losing control of their desktop PCs because of "Windows as a service."

Upgrade Cycles That Are Too Aggressive

In the past years, it used to be possible for users to install their preferred version of Windows and keep it unchanged for nearly a decade. For instance, someone who deployed Windows 7 Service Pack 1 when it was released in February 2011, did not need to bother with updates. The feature set of the Windows 7 Service Pack 1 has been constant for the past six years and, for the remaining three years of its supported life, it is also expected to remain unchanged.

Thanks to feature updates, that upgrade cycle has been reduced now to roughly 18 months. And, even if they can be deferred, those updates cannot be refused. For instance, if you upgraded to Windows 10 Pro one year ago, you got the version 1511 latest release in February 2016. Just six months later, has been released the version 1607 Anniversary Update. Less than a year and a half after the initial deployment, in July 2017, IT admins will be forced to upgrade to version 1607 or later.

In the near future, the upgrade cycle is going to get even tighter. The Group Policy to defer updates has been reduced from eight months to only 180 days in version 1607. From now on, IT pros should expect to upgrade every PC in their organization roughly once a year.

In the past, users could pick and choose from each month's Patch Tuesday collection of individual updates. However, the new Windows Update model packages all those reliability security fixes into cumulative updates. They are updates that allow all or nothing and cannot be unbundled.

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