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Windows Update for Business gives IT more control

Microsoft divulged details on Windows Update for Business, a new option to help admins control when Windows 10 client devices receive updates by distinguishing update rings.

Windows Update for Business is an option alongside Windows Server Update Services and it allows update deployments at a staggered pace, in "fast" and "slow" rings. Microsoft explained its thinking behind the update processes at the Microsoft Ignite conference last week.  

Administrators can profile business users into groups that receive updates at variable cadences, Microsoft officials said. For instance, IT could deploy a canary scenario in a lab setting, where Windows 10 receives updates on a fast ring, which aren't tested in a wider field. Meanwhile, IT could set client devices to be on a slower ring, to ensure line of business apps don't break compatibility. All client devices on these rings will continue to receive vital security updates.

In addition, Microsoft will offer a Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) as an option for mission critical user environments. LTSB gets no additional functionality and is intended for environments like emergency rooms or air traffic control, which depend on stability.

Microsoft didn't show how administrators will be able to manage client rings, but hinted that it would be managed through Active Directory Group Policy and System Center Configuration Manager.

Company officials stressed that administrators don't have to adopt Windows Update for Business (WUB) right away.

"If you want to update to Windows 10 and you have infrastructure that works, that's fine," said Mike Beck, director of program management at Microsoft.

"I think it is a great step forward for Microsoft, bridging the gap between consumers, small businesses and larger enterprises" said Frank Lesniak, infrastructure and operations architect at West Monroe Partners, a technology consulting company based in Chicago.

One of the benefits of WUB, Lesniak noted, is that the service will send software update quality data to Microsoft.

"Windows Update for Business is a game-changer because it transmits update telemetry data to Microsoft, providing them with a much-needed feedback loop, even for enterprise customers," said Lesniak.

Some server admins want the update functionality for Windows Server 2016.

"If we update IE [on Windows Server], it will take down everything" said a system administrator who works at a multi-level marketing firm. "So we can't separate it out. This model won't work for large enterprises that can't update everything."

Jeremy Stanley is Site Editor for Contact him at [email protected] and @SearchWinServer.

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