Microsoft today released the newest Windows 10 feature upgrade, labeled "Fall Creators Update" and numbered 1709, to consumers and commercial customers. The upgrade was the first since Microsoft revamped its Windows 10 servicing model by pledging to deliver two such updates annualVideo conferencingly, and changed the release track nomenclature and support timetable.
As Microsoft pointed out, some practices have changed in its Windows-10-as-a-service concept.
What's in a name?
Today's upgrade carries the label "Semi-Annual Channel," a change in nomenclature from Microsoft's previous Current Branch, the release track offered almost exclusively to consumers. To match the naming convention it created for Office 365, Microsoft dropped its Windows 10 release titles Current Branch and Current Branch for Business, and swapped in Semi-Annual Channel for both.
Windows 10 1709 is the first feature upgrade to get the Semi-Annual Channel name tag.
Jump on it, enterprise!
The naming differences are insignificant compared to the advice Microsoft gave enterprises about deployment: Previously, it told corporate customers to steer clear of Current Branch. Instead, they were to wait for Microsoft to give a green light - usually awarded about four months after the launch of Current Branch - indicating the upgrade had been sufficiently tested, mostly by consumers, and now warranted widespread roll-outs by IT. That green light also marked a change in labels, as the upgrade was promoted to the Current Branch for Business channel.
Now, Microsoft recommends that all enterprises jump on each Semi-Annual Channel release immediately, at least for a subset of workers. "As soon as that release date happens, begin piloting, begin deploying [the feature upgrade] to a percentage of your organization," Michael Niehaus, director of product marketing for Windows, said in a briefing at the company's Ignite conference three weeks ago. "You want to start right way so you can build up trust, build up confidence, in the release itself."
And it's live
To make the previous recommendation possible, Microsoft has accelerated the availability of Windows 10 1709 compared to earlier upgrades.
"Windows 10, version 1709 will be available on the 17th on all relevant distribution channels: the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC), Windows Update for Business, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), and Visual Studio Subscriptions," Niehaus wrote in a post to a company blog yesterday.
Last spring, Microsoft waited until May 1 to offer Windows 10 1703 (aka Creators Update) to enterprises via the VLSC, for instance. That was about four weeks after 1703 actually arrived.
All in one, one for all
Microsoft also altered the packaging of the disk images - identified by the .iso filename suffix - for Windows 10 1709. "Instead of having separate media and packages for Windows 10 Pro (volume licensing version), Windows 10 Enterprise, and Windows 10 Education, all three will be bundled together," Niehaus said Monday. "Included in the [.iso] will be a single Windows image (WIM) file that contains all the volume licensing images."
Niehaus didn't explain the rationale behind the combined-version disk image, but it was probably due to a relatively new feature in Windows 10, called "Subscription Activation," that debuted in this year's 1703 upgrade. Using Subscription Activation, devices assigned to a user covered by a subscription-based license - including plans such as Windows 10 Enterprise E3 and E5, as well as Microsoft 365 E3 and E5 - are automatically "unlocked" with a log-in, with the operating system transforming from Windows 10 Pro to Windows 10 Enterprise.
To do so requires that the underlying image include features of every Windows 10 SKU (stock-selling unit); the license simply unlocks the appropriate set of features.
Also perhaps in play: Microsoft added an operating system-change path from Windows 10 Enterprise to Windows 10 Education - using an activation product key - with 1709.