Microsoft's Servicing Of Windows Is Changing, Hopefully For The Better
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced the ‘Creators’ update for Windows 10 that will be coming next year. While the company did focus on many of the new consumer features with that announcement, we do know of a couple enterprise updates that will be coming too.
Announced last week and coming to Windows 10 next year, is the Unified Update Platform (UUP) feature that will streamline the update process; Microsoft says that this new update process can reduce the footprint of downloads by as much as 35%. This reduction in size is being achieved by using differential downloads, meaning it only downloads the individual components needed for the update that has changed since your last download. In other terms, Windows Update is moving to a delta model where only the deltas are downloaded and installed.
The obvious benefit here is that large updates, like 1511 and 1607 will now be smaller in size. This is a win for everyone involved as it means less downtime for the end user as they wait for the download to complete and there is also less bandwidth consumed during transmission. The benefits are clear and why UUP is being built is obvious but with Microsoft having pushed numerous bad updates since the release of Windows 10, this new update process is raising a few concerns as well.
Say Goodbye to Traditional PC Lifecycle Management
Traditional IT tools, including Microsoft SCCM, Ghost Solution Suite, and KACE, often require considerable custom configurations by T3 technicians (an expensive and often elusive IT resource) to enable management of a hybrid onsite + remote workforce. In many cases, even with the best resources, organizations are finding that these on-premise tools simply cannot support remote endpoints consistently and reliably due to infrastructure limitations.
Microsoft is limiting the new UUP updates to Windows 10 Mobile insiders only for now and they will eventually move desktop Insiders to this methodology before final release next year. The big concern is that the company has released several Windows 10 updates that have broken features or crippled productivity tools and by introducing another variable into the update equation, this is another potential point of failure for updates.
Only time will tell if this new update process is an improvement for the service or another place that problems show up. While we know that Microsoft is going to test this new mechanism with increased scrutiny as its a significant change to how they operate today, we also thought that the Anniversary update was going to be a trouble-free release and we all know that didn’t go as expected.
When you couple this change with the fact that Microsoft is now forcing all users to use the cumulative update model for all supported versions of Windows and even IT Pros cannot block individual patches anymore, these are some of the biggest changes to how Microsoft services Windows in its history. The benefits on paper do look good but here’s to hoping that Microsoft can make the functionality rock solid and that it won’t be another point of failure once it is released.