Microsoft has kept its consumers well informed on what they can expect to see in Windows 10, which is predicted to launch in full later this fall. Now, it's beginning to shed some light on how the new OS will affect enterprise users.
The tech giant made clear that customers running Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 8.1 will have access to a free Windows 10 upgrade for one year after it hits the market. They will also receive feature upgrades and security fixes for their devices' supported lifetimes.
In a Jan. 30 blog post, Microsoft confirmed that users running Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8 Enterprise, and Windows 8.1 enterprise will not be eligible to download Windows 10 for free during its first year of availability. Those with paid Windows Software Assurance (SA) contracts can access the upgrade in accordance with their contract terms.
Microsoft's recent blog post turned its focus to upgrades with details on "Long Term Servicing branches," which will be introduced to provide businesses with more control over how they receive new feature updates on Windows 10. The company's plan is to provide enterprise users with greater security and the flexibility they need to adopt innovation at a pace that best suits them.
These branches will provide new critical and security updates to Windows 10 users, but will not deliver new features throughout periods of mainstream and extended support, each of which lasts five years. Through Long Term Servicing users can download security fixes through Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), which grants them control over how security upgrades are distributed automatically via Windows Update or through management solutions such as System Center Configuration Manager.
Microsoft is also releasing a "Current branch for Business" to accommodate Windows 10 enterprise users with end-user devices that are not necessarily mission-critical. In addition to regular security updates, participants will receive feature upgrades "after their quality and application compatibility has been assessed in the consumer market." IT departments will have time to verify these updates before employees download them.
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Businesses can choose to download Current branch for Business updates through WSUS or automatically via Windows Update. In its blog, Microsoft recommends automatic Windows Update fixes for enterprise users with non-mission-critical devices. It notes that this program is designed to reduce management costs while providing quicker access to security updates and critical fixes.
Microsoft also notes that IT professionals can switch user devices from a Long Term Servicing branch to a Current branch for Business, and vice versa. It plans to deliver the first Long Term Servicing branch "in the same time frame as Windows 10 market availability."
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