Are you ready for a new Windows OS release every year?
A couple of months ago during the BUILD conference in San Francisco, Steve Ballmer publicly said that rapid release is going to become the new norm for Microsoft. This represents a radical departure from the way that Microsoft has released its flagship products over the last decade or more. Where there used to be a gap of two or three years between Windows releases, Microsoft is planning on releasing new operating systems much more frequently.
Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 serve as strong evidence of Microsoft’s commitment to the rapid-release cycle. Both operating systems are being released roughly a year after the previous operating system.
Obviously, Microsoft developers have their work cut out for them, but they aren’t the only ones who will be feeling the pressure. IT pros in shops where Microsoft products are used are also going to be feeling the heat and will have to rethink the way the way they deploy new releases. There are some things that will have to be considered.
It is commonly repeated wisdom that it is a bad idea to deploy any new Microsoft product until the first service pack is released. The idea behind this philosophy is that by the time the first service pack comes out, the most critical bugs will have been discovered and fixed. Waiting for the first service pack theoretically means a stable product and an easier migration.
The problem is that Microsoft is poised to release Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 within the next few weeks. The first service packs have yet to be released for Windows Server 2012 or for Windows 8.
Microsoft isn’t doing away with service packs altogether. There have been recent service pack releases for some other Microsoft products. Microsoft has released service packs for SQL Server 2012 and System Center 2012. If Microsoft’s goal is to perform rapid releases, then it is going to be stretching its development team thin. There might not be enough resources available to create new operating systems and new service packs for old ones.