This article describes the new servicing options available in Windows 10, and how they enable enterprises to keep their devices current with the latest feature upgrades. It also covers related topics, such as how enterprises can make better use of Windows Update, and what the new servicing options mean for support lifecycles.
Several of the figures in this article show multiple feature upgrades of Windows being released by Microsoft over time. Be aware that these figures were created with dates that were chosen for illustrative clarity, not for release roadmap accuracy, and should not be used for planning purposes.
In enterprise IT environments, the desire to provide users with the latest technologies needs to be balanced with the need for manageability and cost control. In the past, many enterprises managed their Windows deployments homogeneously and performed large-scale upgrades to new releases of Windows (often in parallel with large-scale hardware upgrades) about every three to six years. Today, the rapid evolution of Windows as a platform for device-like experiences is causing businesses to rethink their upgrade strategies. Especially with the release of Windows 10, there are good business reasons to keep a significant portion of your enterprise's devices current with the latest release of Windows. For example, during the development of Windows 10, Microsoft:
•Streamlined the Windows product engineering and release cycle so that Microsoft can deliver the features, experiences, and functionality customers want, more quickly than ever.
•Created new ways to deliver and install feature upgrades and servicing updates that simplify deployments and on-going management, broaden the base of employees who can be kept current with the latest Windows capabilities and experiences, and lower total cost of ownership.
•Implemented new servicing options – referred to as Current Branch (CB), Current Branch for Business (CBB), and Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) – that provide pragmatic solutions to keep more devices more current in enterprise environments than was previously possible.
The remainder of this article provides additional information about each of these areas. This article also provides an overview of the planning implications of the three Windows 10 servicing options (summarized in Table 1) so that IT administrators can be well-grounded conceptually before they start a Windows 10 deployment project.