Anyone that administers regular Windows security patches knows the headaches involved. As someone who follows a lot of IT folks and Microsoft MVPs on Twitter, I read disgruntled tweets every Patch Tuesday about blue screens and boot fails that occur after updates.
There is good news on the Windows 10 horizon. Microsoft is hoping to take a lot of the pain out of deploying Windows updates with a new free feature called Windows Update for Business.
“Selective updating is an expensive, thankless task for IT professionals,” Microsoft’s Terry Myerson explains in a recent blog post. “With Windows 10, we need a new approach for end-user devices at work.”
Similar to what Windows Update is for consumers, Windows Update for Business will be a cloud-based feature that keeps enterprise users up to date with Windows security patches and other updates. Microsoft says it will expand this continuous update process to all Windows 10 devices, including Windows phones and tablets.
Currently, many businesses update PCs with Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), a Microsoft program that manages distribution of updates and hotfixes in a Windows Server environment. Other Microsoft programs have similar features. Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS) users employ System Center R2 Configuration Manager (SCCM) for the same ends.
Is Windows Update for Business the new WSUS?
Not exactly. Windows Update for Business will be a standalone feature in Windows Server environments, but Microsoft says it will integrate with WSUS and SCCM for environments currently utilizing those programs.
Essentially, Windows Update for Business grants IT control over the “who” and the “when” for rolling out new updates. It is designed so that end users who do not necessarily need the newest updates right away can get them at a deliberate and measured pace. The IT team can test an update on select machines and troubleshoot any issues that may arise (the blue screens and failed boots that been known to happen from time to time) before deploying the update to all the users across an environment.
Microsoft says it will integrate Windows Update for Business in with WSUS and SCCM for environments currently utilizing those programs.
Outlining Windows Update for Business features
Here are new features you can expect when using Windows Update for Business:
- Distribution rings – This lets IT specify which devices are the first to receive an update, and allows a rollout to be staggered over time.
- Maintenance windows – This lets IT specify timeframes when updates should (and should not) occur.
- Peer to peer delivery – A feature designed for branch locations with limited bandwidth which helps these types of environments update faster with better use of network resources.
- Integration with your existing tools – Microsoft says it will work as a “single pane of glass” with SCCM, WSUS and other system management features.
- Free – This is a free feature for Windows Pro and Windows Enterprise users.
If you want to give Windows Update for Business a try, you may do so by joining the Windows 10 Insider Program. Getting an early look at the program is a good way to get a jump on navigating your company’s transition to Windows 10. Microsoft says a full-on customer preview of Windows Update for Business is planned for later this year. We will get a better feel then for how the new feature will make Windows updates a smoother process.