Microsoft changed the traditional development, testing, and delivery of Windows operating system versions and updates with the release of Windows 10.
The traditional approach saw the release of a new major version of Windows, e.g. Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, every three years, and the release of service packs, monthly security updates, and other updates besides that.
Windows 10 uses a different release scheme. Microsoft releases two feature updates per year, security updates every month just like before, and a second cumulative update for testing.
Microsoft employee Sean McLaren published a new article at the end of May 2019 in which he highlighted the advantages of Windows as a Service. He mentioned “improved stability”, “more secure”, “more productive”, and “lower total cost of ownership” as four main reasons why Windows as a Service is more effective than the traditional approach.
Improved stability: With Windows 10, we work to deliver monthly quality updates to over 800 million active Windows 10 devices, 35 million application titles (with more than 175 million application versions), and 16 million unique hardware/driver combinations. Staying current means your devices benefit from the latest features and enhancements as well as fixes for known issues.
More secure: Staying current in the age of the digital transformation is the best way to protect against threats. A regular rhythm of monthly updates shifts control away from potential attackers and in your favor.
More productive: Don’t take productivity for granted as a “nice to have.” In addition to the hundreds of Windows 10 user-focused features introduced over time, there have been countless additions designed specifically to make the life of the IT professional easier and more manageable.
Lower total cost of ownership (TCO): Staying up to date with the latest Windows feature and monthly updates will not only improve productivity, it will ultimately lower the total cost of ownership by helping you focus application compatibility testing, reduce security risk and remediation costs, reduce support costs, and enable more effective employee-customer interactions.
If you take a good hard look at the advantages, you may notice that most of them, maybe even all, apply to previous versions of Windows as well or could be adopted easily.
Take More Secure for example; all versions of Windows that are still supported get monthly security updates. There is nothing special about Windows 10 in that regard. Microsoft could have highlighted that it integrated EMET protections natively or added new protections, but the company made the deliberate decision to include these features only in Windows 10. It would have been easy to introduce these in earlier versions of well.
Microsoft may have data on stability but if you look at the number of issues of updates and features updates, you may question that data. Windows 10 may work stable for most users but so do previous versions of Windows.
More productive and lower total cost of ownership fall into the same category. The feature additions to Windows 10 that Microsoft mentions could have been added to a traditional version of Windows as well.
The article reads like an advertisement for Windows 10 and the new release model. If you ask users what they don’t like about it you may get “forced upgrades”, “too many feature updates”, “too much telemetry”, or “not enough controls” as answers.
The article has been written for a business and Enterprise audience, and things may be a bit different there. Enterprise customers may run any version of Windows 10 for 30 months and not just 18 like the rest, and there is Enterprise LTSC that is good fo r10-year support.
Now You: What is your take on Windows as a Service?