The complicated upgrade path to Windows 10 revealed
Windows 10 is purported to be the last version of Windows that Microsoft will ever issue. The reason for this is that upgrading Windows will follow in the footsteps of Office 365 and be pushed out to all computers from Microsoft when needed. The pros and cons of this “Always Updated” approach, however, is the subject of another blog.
This blog is dedicated to the upgrade paths for users to move from an earlier version of Windows to Windows 10. The information in this blog is preliminary and subject to change before the launch of Windows 10; however, this information is accurate at the time of writing.
Microsoft has three service branches for Windows 10. The differing versions of the operating system will have access to different branches. This is illustrated below:
Current Branch (CB)
Customers using the Current branch (available to all versions of Windows 10) will not have a choice regarding upgrades. That means that CB users will have to take any new features, fixes and security updates that Microsoft pushes to them via Windows Update. They have no choice. If that breaks software as a result of the update, so be it. You cannot use any Microsoft update service to manage the CB.
Current Branch for Business (CBB)
Businesses can elect to put people on the CB or the CBB. Windows Pro users allocated to the CB branch will be subject to the same restrictions as Windows Home users. Windows Pro users on the CBB branch will be able to defer one version of upgrade (N-1). This may be for a set period of time until the next version of an upgrade to Windows 10 – it is not clear at this time. Business users can also use deployment tools such as Windows Update Services (WSUS) or the new Windows Update for Business (WUB) both of which allow more feature rich scheduling of updates.
Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB)
Only Windows Enterprise can take advantage of this branch. This branch allows users to take only security fixes and defer taking any new features and to handle them via Windows Update for Business and/or WSUS. Windows Enterprise users will be the only ones that can refuse feature updates for Windows 10. Businesses can also stream enterprise users into the CB or CBB branches with the same effect as mentioned above.
It will be interesting to see how this will all play out for small and mid-sized businesses that typically purchase OEM versions of Windows with their computers and whether these versions of Windows will be subject to the same update issues.
Microsoft intends to provide free copies of Windows 10 in the first year of release. All free copies will be on the CB.
Charles Bennett is the Principal Consultant at Triella, a technology consulting company specializing in providing technology assessments, consulting, maintenance services and CIO-related services to small and medium sized firms. Charles can be reached at 647.426.1004. For additional articles, please visit http://www.triella.com/publications.html. Triella is a Citrix Partner, VMware Partner, Microsoft Small Business Specialist, Microsoft Silver Partner, Dell Preferred Partner, BlackBerry Alliance Partner and Authorized Worldox Reseller.
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