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Microsoft executives have promised continuous deployment for Windows as far back as 2011, back in the era of Windows 8. But when they were asked back then how they planned to change Windows Update, they fumbled and admitted they weren't changing it at all.

Today at Ignite in Chicago, Microsoft EVP Terry Myerson introduced an audience of admins and developers to the long-awaited Windows Update for Business, which he described as an entirely new mechanism for the distribution of continuous patches for Pro and Enterprise editions of Windows 10.

'You Are in Control'

The priorities and classes of updates will accompany each update. That will allow businesses to push urgent security fixes to clients, but delay feature additions or updates until they’ve been tested internally.

Until now, there was some question about how Microsoft was planning to handle distributions being delayed until admins gave the go-ahead. Today, that detail was filled in: Windows Update for Business will be a peer-to-peer distribution mechanism, so delayed and then approved updates will be pushed not from Microsoft’s central hub but from businesses’ own servers.

“As an IT professional, with Windows Update for Business, you are in control,” said Myerson. “With Windows 10, Windows Update has peer-to-peer update distribution capability, enabling the most efficient update distribution ever. We designed this for people all over the planet, and for the enterprise, this means incredibly efficient distribution of updates to remote offices, for remote sites with low-bandwidth connections.”

The “rings” refer to the number of stops along the distribution route, which can be made shorter for more urgent patches or longer to give admins an opportunity to test upgraded operating systems with critical software in secure environments.

During the keynote, Myerson took the offensive, not only taking big swings on behalf of the new Windows Update for Business continuous deployment scheme, but targeting Google for some collateral damage along the way.

“Windows Update delivers the same updates that you’re distributing inside the enterprise to 858 million Windows consumers on the second Tuesday of every month,” said Myerson. “Next Tuesday, 858 million diverse Windows devices all across the planet will be updated by Windows Update.

Knocking the Competition

“Now let’s take a second to discuss Android. Google takes no responsibility to update their customers’ devices, refuses to take responsibility to update their devices, leaving end users and businesses increasingly exposed every day, who use their Android devices. Google just shifts a big pile of… code,” Myerson continued, stopping himself from saying something else. “And it leaves you exposed with no commitments to update your device.”

Of course, that characterization may include quite a bit of character. But Myerson does have a point with respect to how Android’s distribution policy, which involves multiple subsidizing carriers, does lead to platform fragmentation.

Myerson left out the news from last week that Microsoft will also be making new deals with subsidizing carriers, including for new classes of tablets and laptop PCs.