Windows 10 is a service not a product

Microsoft has made a fundamental change to the desktop version of Windows with Windows 10, with Microsoft stating it is a service, not a product.

How does this change in the fundamentals of windows desktop operating systems change the way enterprises deploy and update Windows 10 as compared to previous versions like Windows 7 ?

(link to the MS technet article https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/itpro/windows/update/waas-quick-start )

Some variations or Servicing Branches.

Windows 10 will come in a few what Microsoft call “Servicing Branches” or release cycles. For enterprises, the following Windows 10 branches will usually be considered

  • Current Branch (CB) – functionally equivalent to the consumer or retail version, feature updates are available as soon as Microsoft releases them. Ideal for devices used for testing and developing against the latest features,
  • Current Branch for Business (CBB) – more stable, updates go through more thorough testing before release. Ideal for much of enterprise usage, and
  • Long Term Service Branch (LTSB) – very long term stability designed for single task systems (ATM’s & Point of sale equipment) that do not require frequent updating.

Further Enterprise vs Pro licensing needs to be considered (the “Home” edition cannot be used for business purposes), both are available as either Current Branch or Current Branch for Business, Long Term Service Branch is an Enterprise license only.

Windows 10 is, unless it is LTSB, designed for rapid updates, or to use the term commonly used for “as a service” environments – evergreen.

Every update is a cumulative update rather than a set of individual patches that needed to be pushed through or approved for deployment individually.

Managed by like a mobile device.

One of the “under the hood” changes for Windows 10 is the introduction of a more comprehensive management API that all MDM/EMS vendors can take advantage of to manage the installed OS and offer such things as enterprise application stores and other capabilities that were first seen on mobile platforms like smartphones and tablets.

With this change the ability to bootstrap configuration of a new Windows 10 device, in the field, has be substantially enhanced and this is the way that Microsoft recommends deployment of new Windows 10 devices.

This leads to the key difference that enterprises will see with Windows 10 deployment. You no longer need to build a SOE (standard operating environment) or image and essentially wipe and replace what comes on your PC’s with that image.

This reduces considerably the overhead of an SOE (as it’s no longer needed) though some of this effort needs to be redirected to ensuring all the business layers appropriate for the enterprise are maintained – these business layers are the default sets of applications installed for each part of the business – e.g. HR apps are different from the Sales apps.

Deployment – Out of the Box.

When a new Windows 10 device is deployed, just like a smartphone or tablet, the device gets unpacked, then enrolled by the user providing their enterprise credentials, in either AAD (Azure Active Directory) or the enterprise Active directory which then installs the MDM/EMS of choice, which then starts installing and configuring all the base security, applications and policy settings on the device, with minimal or no user intervention.

This can be down to the individual with such things as their settings in some applications, their files, and other backed up data being brought down or configured for access on the device.

A better experience.

Windows 10 is different in many ways than its predecessors, the whole deployment and update cycle has been re-engineered to both modernize the experience and reduce the IT cost burden on the enterprise of deploying, managing and maintaining an extensive fleet of Windows 10 based devices.

Thanks for reading.