Individual users who download Microsoft's latest operating system -- Windows 10, being released starting Wednesday -- will have to agree to automatic, ongoing and "without any additional notice" future software updates. But enterprise users will retain more control over when and how their systems are updated -- for a price.
The new OS upgrade will be free to consumers and small-business users as part of the Windows shift to an as-a-service delivery, but the update is being handled differently for enterprise customers, who will begin seeing Windows 10 on August 1.
The transition to Windows-as-a-service means home and small-business users will no longer have the option of updating when they want by buying individual licenses to a new version of the software. That's why Microsoft has described Windows 10 as the "last" version of its OS. Enterprise users who make the move to Windows 10 will have different options for managing updates, however.
"[T]he general update story doesn't change for the enterprise, except for a few new options like Windows Update for Business, and the Long Time Servicing Branch being available," said Johan Arwidmark, a Microsoft MVP in system center cloud and data center management. "I'm happy with the options for updates that are available for the enterprise."
However, one leading Windows expert noted that the new software rollout will also affect how enterprises have traditionally paid for accessing and managing Windows updates.
Paying Not To Get Updates
"Most enterprise users will get updates automatically, just like consumers, but unlike consumers many enterprises are very fussy about updates," Paul DeGroot, a Microsoft licensing expert and principle consultant at Pica Communications, told us.
Those more finicky enterprise users, typically turn off automatic updates for all PCs in their organizations, DeGroot said. Instead, as updates roll out, they are collected by a Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) device so IT personnel at the enterprise can test each one first.
"[I]f it's benign and relevant, they may schedule it for patching," DeGroot said. "If it breaks anything or is of questionable utility (e.g., it affects an older version of a product they're not using anymore), they won't apply it."
That system was enabled through Microsoft's previous Software Assurance (SA) offering, a paid service that gave enterprises rights to new versions and upgrades for Windows. That system will change with the latest update rolling out starting this week, however. "With Windows 10, they have to pay Microsoft extra to not get updates," DeGroot said.
A '180' for Software Assurance
"Since Microsoft is giving many customers free updates to Windows 10 . . . the company has blown a hole in the primary reason to buy SA," DeGroot noted in a recent blog post for the Microsoft-focused Software Licensing Advisors. "To patch that hole, Microsoft is making a 180. In the future, customers will have to purchase SA to not get updates."
"Got that? If you pay Microsoft extra, they agree to give you less, or at least, you get the choice not to take the updates that might break your systems," DeGroot added.
"We have too many mission-critical applications and legacy hardware components that don't always play well with updates," a commenter noted here yesterday. "You only have to be burnt once to become very paranoid about updates."
Enterprises that need to be especially careful with how they manage updates include companies in industries such as financial services or healthcare that must meet strict regulatory guidelines.
"The smallest change -- just a different date on a DLL, for example -- can break the application or require a $100,000-plus re-certification exercise," DeGroot said last week. "There are some very serious issues related to Windows 10 for enterprise users, and generally the larger the enterprise the more serious it becomes," he told us.
Posted: 2015-07-28 @ 1:15pm PT
I'm sorry but this article to me is misleading. MSFT has been doing the same practice since I can remember for Windows. They give us tools as part of the SA to help us manage updates and other polices in our domain. So that has not changed at all the changes happen to the consumer SKUs. They are free for a limited time and according to the ULA home versions cannot be used for production. For small businesses if they pay (and they should) for an IT he/she can manage updates as they can now. If they don't have an IT and purchase their computer from a store then they should get all updates. Users that turn off updates become victims for costly viruses, malware, ransomware, etc. So the only thing that has change on the retail SKU people that buy from a Bestbuy, Frys, Walmart, Etc they can't turn updates off. The only negative thing I see here is Microsoft is drivers. If they are forcing drivers they should make sure to test them. Hopefully the fast ring insiders can help with this.
Posted: 2015-07-28 @ 12:55pm PT
Ridiculous. Time to switch to a POSIX-compliant operating system. Microsoft keeps fading into irrelevance.