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Microsoft risks IT ire with Windows 10 update push

Ryan Faas | Nov. 9, 2015
Its OS-as-a-service could create headaches for shops used to a slower upgrade pace.

Chrome OS is essentially updated by Google across all of the devices running it. This is the most apt comparison to Microsoft's plans for Windows 10. The big difference is that Chromebooks are little more than the Chrome browser and are designed primarily for working with data in cloud-based services. Although the devices do have local storage and support for some peripherals, they are extremely uniform compared to any other major platform (which makes them easier to manage than rivals).

This isn't to say that IT professionals have always been happy about these platforms or their upgrade processes. iOS and Android were met with skepticism and even hostility by many IT departments. As the platforms have matured into true enterprise tools and it's become clear they are a necessary part of the enterprise computing landscape, IT has had to adapt to the realities associated with supporting, securing, and managing them.

Part of that adaptation is to the way these platforms get updated.

iOS is a great example of how IT departments already deal with being shut out of a platform's update process.

With iOS, IT gets very limited lead time about major updates (typically about the three months between Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference in June and the public release later that same fall). Many IT shops now realize that the next version of iOS will arrive for their organizations the day it's released. As such, it's common practice to download and test the developer preview builds through that period to ensure smooth operation on day one. Similarly, many IT departments keep up to date on the previews of minor iOS releases throughout the year.

Microsoft's update process is going to require a similar adjustment. If Microsoft won't back down on its position that regular cumulative updates of Windows is the future, IT will need to take a similar approach to Windows that it uses with other platforms.

Windows is not iOS

One major difference between iOS and Windows 10 is that Microsoft still allows updates to be deferred by IT. This means that IT departments have greater lead time for testing and developing plans to address potential pitfalls. Even if IT shops rely solely on the CB release, there is expected to be up to eight months to prep before an update becomes mandatory for CBB PCs and devices. Windows Insiders will get an even longer lead time, since they will have access to updates before public release. In effect, Microsoft is striking a middle ground between Apple's approach and the approach used in previous Windows versions.

That longer lead time, of course, isn't a luxury. Windows deployments can be significantly more complicated than those for iOS or Android and almost universally there are more PCs than mobile devices in an organization. Still, using an iOS update strategy as a blueprint is a good starting point for figuring out how to approach Microsoft's planned Windows 10 update process at work.


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