Windows Update for Business: Will it make life easier?

27
Jul
Philip Magson

Written by Philip Magson, 27 July 2015

Windows Update for Business (WUB) is an entirely new product for business users who want to implement Operating System (OS) updates within their environment.

Microsoft claims WUB, which will be offered free to Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise users, will create a more nuanced update process, with much greater control given to admins, essentially by allowing them to decide which devices in their deployment receive upgrades and when. Those new features are being packaged as 'Distribution Rings' and 'Maintenance Windows' - and are amongst a number of new features included in the WUB package - which is as follows:

  • Distribution rings: allows businesses to create update 'fast lanes' and 'slow lanes' (or 'rings'), controlling which devices in their deployment receive updates first - or, alternatively, delay those updates until problems can be resolved.

  • Maintenance windows: allows a timetable and schedule for updates to be worked out for all devices in a deployment - no more annoying downtime during working hours or productivity dips.

  • Peer to peer delivery: efficient delivery of updates to locations with even limited bandwidth.

  • Integration: WUB integrates with existing tools like Enterprise Mobility Suite - ensuring simple management of all system branches is maintained.

WUB will allow admins to update specified devices running Windows 10 - like employee tablets and smartphones - but hold back updates for others until testing has ironed out the kinks.

How will this affect your business?

WUB will overhaul the 'Patch Tuesday' update culture of previous Windows versions - when everyone one braced for a package of updates and security fixes once a month and the hit to productivity that often caused. Since we know Windows 10 is moving us away from the idea of 'versions' and towards 'Windows as a service', updates will come in smaller packages and much more frequently - potentially becoming a 24/7 process.

Simpler... and more complicated?

There's something paradoxical about Microsoft's stated aim of creating a 'unified experience' for everyone running Windows 10 by introducing such a complicated infrastructure for business. While Microsoft are developing Windows as a service as a way to reduce 'system fragmentation', there are so many iterations of the OS on the horizon that you'd be forgiven for losing count: Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows 10 Education, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Enterprise - and that's before business users choose LTS or CBB...

Fortunately, it looks like the complexity is superficial. Once you've set up your preferences as a business, WUB should let you empower employees at an end-user level while simultaneously protecting system-critical computers. Ultimately, WUB should mean more flexibility and more opportunities to take advantage of the capabilities of the new Windows. It's in Microsoft's interests to make this work: let's not forget, the company is betting Windows 10 will be around for a long time...

In the past, the choice was binary - either you updated or you didn't. Now there's a middle-ground which might take some time to get used to... but will help in the long run.

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