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Updates, Release, Builds. What does it all mean?

Over the last few years Microsoft has made the process of updating to the latest versions of its products a far smoother experience than before. However, in doing so a lot of confusion has been caused with different product teams using different schedule and terminology. ‘Current Branch’, ‘Deferred’ and my personal favourite ‘First Release for Deferred Channel’ to name a few examples.

Update Unification

Earlier this year the naming convention and release schedules were unified to form ‘Semi-Annual Channel’ and ‘Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted)’. 6 monthly releases for both Windows 10 and 365 ProPlus made available within a month of each other.

What do they mean, and which should I use?

‘Targeted’ releases are made available at the same time that retail users will start seeing new builds being pushed out to them. Although this release will have gone through the Insider Preview process, it is intended for early adopters in a business environment. IT and ‘Power’ users for example.
Non-targeted releases are generally made available 4 months after the targeted release. This gives IT time to test and evaluate software before mass release. Microsoft also use this time to collect telemetry and compatibility details from its roughly 500 million install base. This means that by the time it goes out to your business all of the latest fixes are included.

What about monthly updates?

The monthly cumulative updates have undoubtedly made the deployment of updates far simpler than it has ever been. Two Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus updates a month instead of 10, how can that be a bad thing?
Office on the other had still produce multiple updates per month for the ‘full fat’ installation of 2016. 365 does offer a monthly update release of ProPlus that will make sure that you have all of the latest features ASAP. Businesses just need to be aware that in doing so they do increase the potential for disruption on a monthly basis, especially if 3rd party add-ins are heavily utilised.

Where do we go from here?

There is a place in every organisation to utilise each release type to their own advantage. The sooner evaluation begins of new builds, the better positioned you will be for the mass release. Remember, once you have jumped in to the Windows-as-a-Service world there is no stopping it. System Center Configuration Manager and Intune come well equipped with tools for managing and automating the entire process.

How Can Silversands Help?

Please feel free to contact Silversands if you would like to find out more about Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus updates or get help with configuring and using these tools in your environment. Use the attached form and someone will be in contact with you very soon.

Please be aware that we run regular workshops and webinars providing the latest updates and expert advice about Microsoft 365, Cloud and Hybrid IT and partner tools. We also post regular blogs so please do follow us.

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