• Windows as a service: Simplified and Aligned (Microsoft blog post)

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    From https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/windowsitpro/2017/07/27/waas-simplified-and-aligned/:

    “As we announced back in April, Microsoft is aligning our servicing models with twice-per-year feature update releases targeting March and September, and 18-month servicing timelines for each release.  While the first fully-aligned release will occur later this year with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update release and a corresponding Office 365 ProPlus release, we got a head start with the Windows 10 1703 release (a.k.a. Creators Update):  It marks the first of our semi-annual releases, each of which will be serviced for 18 months.

    As part of the alignment with Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus, we are also adopting common terminology to make it as easy as possible to understand the servicing process.  The two most important terms to understand:”

    Also see: Microsoft rationalizes and rebrands Windows 10, Office updates again.

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    • #126783

      From Overview of Windows as a service:

      ‘Going forward, these are the new terms we will be using:

      Semi-Annual Channel – We will be referreing to Current Branch (CB) as “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)”, while Current Branch for Business (CBB) will simply be referred to as “Semi-Annual Channel”.
      Long-Term Servicing Channel – The Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) will be referred to as Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC).’

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      • #126818

        I though Current Branch for Business was different than the Current Branch… Wait, I’m confused then what is the Long-Term Targeted Branch for Business? Because I though that was the same as the Long Term Servicing Channel for Business… Is the one you can select in windows updates (on pro) Annual Targeted Channel or just TSLB? What is the Semi-Current Branch? Does that let you delay updates? Is it 35 days or 10 days? Do I get that option if I upgrade to Anniversary Update (1151)?

    • #126867

      Am I the only one who finds that new terminology more confusing?

      The way this article describes who Microsoft expects businesses to test insider builds, then deploy to a few people, then deploy at large constantly seems to be at odds with how many time businesses wants to devote to manage Microsoft products.


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    • #127007
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      • #127050

        It looks so pretty and simple… what a nice overview…

        It just completely ignores the messes it makes with statements like, “Because app compatibility, both for desktop apps and web apps, is outstanding with Windows 10, extensive advanced testing isn’t required” Who lost their mind and thought that was so? Office problems have gone on for months…

        It also doesn’t address incompatibility issues with existing hardware.

        The whole reason people liked picking and choosing updates is that they didn’t work for everyone. Microsoft has made the system work beautifully for themselves (just read the article!), but ignores the trampled devices and incompatibilities for the customers. How nice… for them.

        It is much more difficult for a home customer to recover…

        Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

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    • #127350

      From The Windows Semi-Annual Channel and Targeted Deployment:

      “As you may have already seen on the Windows Experience blog, yesterday we announced that the Windows 10 Creators Update is ready for broad deployment. Additionally, we announced a transition from the Current Branch (CB) and Current Branch for Business (CBB) model of Windows releases to a more predictable, twice-yearly release cadence called the Semi-Annual Channel. With the Semi-Annual Channel, each year we are targeting the release of two Windows Feature Updates, one in March and the other in September, each of which with an 18-month servicing timeline. You can read more about this new Semi-Annual Channel at the Windows for IT Pros blog in Windows as a service: Simplified and Aligned.

      Along with this change comes some new terminology, specifically the terms targeted and broad deployment. While these terms roughly correspond with the CB and CBB nomenclature that we’ve used in the past, they are not an exact translation of these terms and are defined a little differently:

      Targeted deployment refers to the phase immediately following the release of a new Windows version when it is recommended to conduct your organization’s piloting process and to begin deployments to select devices, such as those with the most modern chipsets and capabilities. Surface devices make excellent candidates for these targeted deployments.
      Broad deployment refers to the phase that follows targeted deployment, where your organizations’ pilots and targeted deployments have provided successful feedback and Windows has been vetted for deployment to most or all of your organization’s devices.”


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    • #127353

      From Microsoft Refines Its Windows 10 Update Release Model:

      “The naming discrepancy — CBB versus semi-annual channel — has an explanation of sorts. CBB and semi-annual channel are the same thing. Microsoft just changed the nomenclature.”

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    • #127359

      My take: Microsoft wants businesses to put less emphasis on relying on when Microsoft designates status “Current Branch for Business” (err, I meant “Semi-Annual Channel”). Instead, businesses should deploy “Semi-Annual Channel (targeted)” releases in a targeted manner and then later deploy more broadly when they feel the quality is good enough. Evidence for my take: from the link in the first post: “With each Semi-Annual Channel release, we begin deploying right away to targeted consumer devices and gradually ramp up to full deployment based on the telemetry that we receive.  As John Cable discussed on the Windows Experience blog, we recommend that enterprises follow the same approach. Start with targeted deployments to validate that apps, devices and infrastructure used by the organization works well with the new release.  When that validation is complete, begin broadly deploying.”

      Unfortunately, in some places where Microsoft is using the phrase “Semi-Annual Channel,” they actually should have used the phrase “Semi-Annual Channel (targeted).” Confusing enough, eh?!

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      • #127360

        A example possibly showing Microsoft misusing its own terminology: From the link in the first post: “Starting as soon as a new Semi-Annual Channel feature update is released, begin targeted pilot deployments to a targeted group of machines (we typically suggest around 10%) to validate app, device, and infrastructure compatibility.” But I believe this should have been: “Starting as soon as a new Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) feature update is released, begin targeted pilot deployments to a targeted group of machines (we typically suggest around 10%) to validate app, device, and infrastructure compatibility.”

        • #127700

          Microsoft explained in this thread why they wanted to get away from using the terms Current Branch and Current Branch for Business.

          It seems that the phrase “Semi-Annual Channel” is now an overloaded phrase that can mean two different things, depending on the context. The Microsoft quote in post #127360 may not have been a mistake after all. Ugh!

    • #127402

      According to Overview of the upcoming changes to Office 365 ProPlus update management the release frequency for “Semi-annual Channel (Targeted)” is “Twice per year, in March and September,” and the release frequency for “Semi-annual Channel” is “Twice a year, in January and July.”

    • #127424

      Thanks for the clarifications, MrBrian.

      But what happens if apps, devices, or infrstructure don’t validate compatibility and semi-annual channel arrives and you just have to install it? 😉

      Also, to me, it doesn’t make much sense to start testing what it the equivalent of the early barely out of beta version that is the targeted version. I don’t want that version at all. I just prefer to wait until most bugs are ironed out, test the semi-annual channel version, then install it as far later as possible in time after. Let the poor forced beta testers folks at home test most of it for me.


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      • #127431

        You’re welcome :).

        I’d guess that if businesses do targeted production use of Semi-annual Channel (Targeted) builds, Microsoft can get feedback (via telemetry or other means) about compatibility issues earlier than would otherwise occur.

      • #127810

        Is it just me that thinks even and if M$ gets the Win10 O/s to be at least a stable one in the Home version that that does not mean that it will fly in the Business world, as their platforms/Software environment are like chalk and cheese to the Home user platform and uses.

        I think the Business world is going to become a portion of Beta testers themselves until the “Telemetry” gets back to Redmond and they respond to fix WHEN they can.

        That I think from a Business point of view will be a very hard pill to swallow.

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        • #127857

          I think the Business world is going to become a portion of Beta testers themselves until the “Telemetry” gets back to Redmond and they respond to fix WHEN they can.

          That indeed is what Microsoft is advocating in the first post in this thread.

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    • #127644

      Speculation on my part: In a future Windows 10 feature update, Microsoft will get rid of the concept of Current Branch for Business. I hope Microsoft does this, because I think this concept adds complexity without much benefit, since Microsoft seems committed to giving Current Branch for Business – oops, I mean Semi-Annual Channel – designation anyway in January and July (see post #127402).

      • #127692

        And that rigidity probably explains where CU got granted that status although there was a big list of patches waiting around the corner. The need to meet a stupid rigid deadline is probably the reason CU couldn’t be granted that status later.

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    • #127741

      From Demystifying Windows as a Service – wake up! please.:

      “Every change and preparation can be simplified to this little information – Windows 10 needs to be upgraded in a more frequent manner. By speaking of more frequently this should be 2 times a year and every new Windows Version comes also with new and modified features. Why did we change this? Well there are dozens of arguments, but I will state the most obvious ones. This is actually nothing new – it is simple agile software development. Agile software development will result into higher quality. (agile software development is a status quo today – the only change here is that Windows is an OS) We will be able to react on customer needs much faster – this also means that security features, which will be a reaction to current threats can be integrated into the OS just in time. Another point (for discussion) is that the migration costs and workload can be integrated into the operating and daily work (if WaaS is handled correctly):”

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      • #127756

        Oh, that is scary! When the text to explain how to be agile is longer and less inspiring than just installing Windows 7 and run it for 10 years with just security patches, it doesn’t look good for the future.

        So, basically, WaaS is great because it is an application of the agile paradigm? It will bring so much value and I believe in it as a lead software engineer at Microsoft because I believe in agile computing? And if others don’t follow like most of the people I meet, it is just because they do it wrong and don’t understand how to do it well?

        It reminds me of what Dedoimedo often complained about Linux on the desktop. Just when they nailed it and got something very right, devs get bored and move to a new version of the UI because nobody likes to maintain code (he cites Plasma as example). This create a new Linux version which gets out offering a lot less than the previous version in terms of stability and basic stuff just working, until they work long enough for it to make it as good as the previous version. But in the meantime, who wants to be stuck with that less than before version? So Linux Desktop was almost there for the masses, then not at all, then maybe again close and the cycle go on? Is this what we want to emulate here?



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        • #127765

          KDE 4.x was/is right pretty when it is tweaked just right, the “new” UI is dull and boorish.

    • #127903

      From Update to the Windows as a Service Model:

      ‘The Windows as a Service model has been simplified. Every OS Version is 18 months supported and the releases will be published twice a year in March and September. The naming convention will be changed into “channels” – so we will release in a semi-annual channel. The LTSB will be renamed into Long-Term-Servicing-Channel (LTSC). CB will be simply renamed to the OS release and CBB will be published as ready for broad deployment between 3 to 5 months after the official OS release and it does not have any impact on the supportability times – they will always stay at 18 months for each OS version.


      You should also recognize that skipping one OS-Version seems to be theoretically possible, but keep in mind that you will have nearly no time buffer if you take a look at a dedicated machine and want to deploy it at the same timespot as before:’

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    • #128610

      From comments in the link in the first post:

      ‘[Question] Will the group policies for CB and CBB be removed or are they ignored in the near future?

      [Answer by Microsoft employee Michael Niehaus] We expect the group policies to be changed to “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)” and “Semi-Annual Channel” (for what used to be “Current Branch” and “Current Branch for Business” in the next feature update when it comes out later this year.’

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    • #128713

      From #WaasInANutshell (August 9, 2017):

      ‘Our goal overall with the changes that we made to the Windows as a service terminology had one goal primary goal:  Make it easier to understand.  As for the old “Current Branch” and “Current Branch for Business” terms, just forget them and focus on these simple ideas:’

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    • #129219

      From Automating Windows as a Service (August 12, 2017): “Automating the Windows as a Service Model is possible and I actually recommend doing this for EVERY enterprise customer. You will need some time in the preparation phase and setting up the whole process, but in the end you will save a huge upcoming and recurring workload. I will start with a short intro – moving on to the procedural automation and later on to technical adoption with automation.”

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      • #129416

        Oh wow, they are crazy in there. It is not just marketing that is disconnected.

        From the comments:
        “We have tried CBB lifecycle but :
        – User upgrade experience and satisfaction is bad : installation time is very slow ~ 2 hours. Users can’t work during the upgrade. Many users work with a laptop at a hot desk (when users don’t use theirs latops, laptops are in laptop bag…)
        – Usefulness of Windows 10 for our users ? For our users the added value in a computer, it’s softwares and business applications not operating system.
        – Each time we try a new build, we detected some incompatility with base softwares like antivirus, SSO Solution, screen sharing software in our meeting rooms…
        – In our everyday life, Windows 10 CBB costs more than Windows 7 (or Windows 10 ltsb) because it’s necessary to test our applications in each build..
        Microsoft is risking losing a lot of customers over this new service model WaaS. Business wants stability, you should spend some time at a real business…”

        The responses from the author are quite scary and are worth a read. Nobody wants WaaS, but they defend themselves by saying we are the last company to do it and that is how things are today. This doesn’t make any sense when you are about the only one on the desktop. What, you want to exchange your dominance to get Linux’s twice a year release successful market share? And they seem to not get there is too much interaction between their OS and the apps to prevent issues from happening, like the agile development of some standalone app that wouldn’t matter because of much less legacy support and third-party interactions. Maybe in the wonderful world of apps from the app store, this problem will be much less important, but if the current success of the app store is any indication, Microsoft has time to go bankrupt before people only run store apps.

        When the business guy in the comments says as I predicted earlier third-party vendors don’t follow, the MS guy just responds to talk to the vendors earlier, and basically treats everyone that doesn’t want to spend more resources and money to maintain Windows than before as idiots who just don’t get it. This is so condescending, arrogant and naive at the same time. And what about the small businesses who couldn’t care less about your bureaucratic process of maintenance?

        All of this blog post reminds me of some of those empty management ideas you would sometimes see in business school where they use fancy drawings and words to describe a more complicated way to do something simple.

        The fact that they call that automating is hilarious when parts of this automated process imply things like calling your third-party vendor to complain his products don’t work and hope he will fix it before the forced upgrade! There are so many non automated tasks in this automated process, it is a joke.


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        • #129418

          . . . . The fact that they call that automating is hilarious when parts of this automated process imply things like calling your third-party vendor to complain his products don’t work and hope he will fix it before the forced upgrade!

          This.  And it’s not (just) small third party vendors – we’re running into this right now with one of the largest, most expensive non-MS software vendors for workstation software I know about.  Afraid to mention the names (but those that have read some of my old posts might guess.)

          ~ Group "Weekend" ~

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      • #129570

        From the author of the blog post (in the comments):

        “The questions should be – Why? Why is it necessary to do this?

        IT [= information technology] is changing in a much faster way than it ever has. Hackers are improving their techniques daily – and staying on old operating systems was never a good idea from a security perspective. The new pace of two OS versions per year allows to react just in time on current hacker movements (like removing SMBv1 and PowerShell v2), aswell to bring up new technologies in place, without the necessity to roll out a complete new OS as a complete project (how it was done in the past and costed millions of dollars). Many defensive techniques are just working with plain lists and hackers improve their attacking vectors to graphs and bring in AI.

        The article describes this one-time job to create an appropriate adoption plan – procedural and technically – to allow pushing out new Windows 10 Versions just aside the operational work.
        It is ok to not like this approach, but from a technical perspective this is a proper approach with good arguments and in the end – no one will change the continuation of WaaS. I cannot change it – you cannot change it and Microsoft won´t change it (for a good reason).

        (not directed to you directly) So – stop grumbling and ignoring WaaS and stick your resources together to adopt it in a good way, because this will save you money and nerves in the future.”

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        • #129590

          I agree with that this shows WaaS won’t stop anytime soon. The technical reasons they evoke just shows me even the engineers think it is the way to go.  This is depressing to me.

          I don’t agree though with the assessment it is a necessity to develop an OS that way and that Ms won’t change it ever, unless they simplify Windows a lot, which doesn’t seem like what they are doing right now, quite the opposite. There are other ways to remove support for SMB that changing the whole OS two times a year. I just don’t think they are right at all and I donlt think the arguments of the engineer are sound and appropriate to that context. They could also change the OS in a much less disruptive way. Windows as it is is just not meant for that. Ms might be forced to change it for the same reason they still offer an LTSB version: if they don’t their option is not viable. If strong voices threaten them loud enough or they start loosing too much business, all this fancy talk about development and deployment won’t weight much on the scale.

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    • #129594

      Is it just me, or does it really seem like we’re watching a giant train wreck in slow motion?  The frenetic pace of “WaaS” and the lack of any meaningful professional beta testers suggests that update quality isn’t going to get any better (and that includes updates for pre-10 also, but at least pre-10 versions are not having their code churned by the constant addition of features no one asked for.  As more enterprise customers migrate to 10 out of a sense of inevitability (with a sense of trepidation, as they know everything we’re discussing here), it’s just going to get worse and worse.

      IT departments have other things to do besides deployment of a new version of the OS every six months, and it’s going to be a nightmare combining more rollouts than ever before with the lowest quality code MS has ever shipped.

      I cannot see a positive outcome for Microsoft in any of this.  At some point, the complete unsuitability of WaaS and the hardship it will cause for the real customers (enterprise) has to matter.  We already know that we in the consumer sector are cannon fodder, but they’re doing it to their valued customers too.  They’re imposing significant hardship for no benefit.  Contrary to what MS claims, “WaaS” not only is not necessary, it’s not even of any benefit to anyone other than Microsoft.

      Again, I begin to question whether this is an unnecessarily cruel exit strategy from the OS market.  If they’re not intent on destroying the Windows market (at great expense to the world’s economy), what exactly are they doing?  Are they so blinded by their own hubris that they don’t recognize that there has to be a downside to sticking it to your most faithful customers and claiming it’s for their own good when it’s so easy to recognize that it isn’t?

      Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
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    • #130409

      How Microsoft deploys Windows 10 internally within Microsoft is explained in video Windows 10 Deployment: Tips and Tricks from Microsoft. An article about this video: Microsoft Outlines Its Tooling Future: Moves Away from Traditional Testing Methods with Windows 10 (June 21, 2017).

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      • #130416

        From Streamlining application compatibility testing at Microsoft:

        “Microsoft relies on Microsoft IT to maintain stable, consistent performance for line-of-business applications. As platforms move from product to service, more frequent product updates require a shift in our application compatibility testing methodology. We centralized processes, rationalized our application portfolio, and leveraged virtualization and automation to rapidly deploy products and updates. Streamlining our processes increased our testing efficacy—reducing the time, cost, and effort of each test cycle.”

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        • #130419

          Speakin’ of “more frequent updates”…

          I’ve gotten I think 4 updates to Visual Studio 2017 inside of the last couple of weeks.

          When it happens I have to delete all .vs folders and rebuild my software entirely. It’s not THAT big a deal, takes me about 15 minutes in total, but it DOES disrupt things. Today, as of a few minutes ago, we’re up to 15.3.2.

          I haven’t noticed one thing that’s any better about any of the newest revisions, but I HAVE noticed that because of whatever incompatibility with their prior internal databases I have had to delete all my hidden .vs folders or face “Project failed to build because of an unspecified error”.

          Why are there internal incompatibilities in a product that’s being in-place upgraded every few days?

          And so now, even though I use a stable Win 8.1 OS, I’ve wasted at least an hour on rebuilding due to their incessant continuous updates of Visual Studio. That’s an hour more I could have been adding value to my own products, the profits from which I feed my family. Or recreating instead of working.

          Things is, there ARE some deficiencies in their code generator that I keep hoping they’ll fix. They have even promised to fix them “in a future release”, but I guess the future isn’t here yet. So I incessantly keep accepting their rapid-fire updates.

          I guess I have to change that policy here too. Thing is, so far no one revision has gotten mature; they keep superseding any version I might choose to be “good enough”. So even the choice of which revision to “stick with” is entirely and only up to me. That’s not insignificant. Time was I could get their release and use it for a year or worst case months, knowing it had been tested and approved by Microsoft. Now *I* have to test and approve it based on how well it works for my own products.

          I once had to pay quite a bit for Visual Studio (e.g., $600). But for that I had stability. Now Visual Studio Community Edition is free (for a business my size) and I have to pay again and again in lost time. I think I prefer the former.


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    • #130706

      The 5th image at Hands On: Windows 10 Redstone 3 Build 16273 shows “Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)” and “Semi-Annual Channel.”

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