Windows 10 Feature Update

A Microsoft employee once (in)famously said that Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a Windows 11 or 12, it just means that upgrading won’t be as much of an ordeal as the hop from Windows 7 to Windows 10 (or previous hops from Windows XP to Windows 7; Windows 95 to Windows XP). Well maybe, but not yet.

For the past eleven years or so your on-campus, pre-COVID computer received updates in two ways. Monthly Windows security updates installed in the background once a month and you could restart at your convenience to finish. There was also everyone’s favorite blue (then) and orange (now) KBOX of annoyance that would pop up for third-party application updates as soon as possible after they were released. You had the choice of ignoring it or interrupting your work and installing the updates.

Due to popular demand, KBOX updates were at first consolidated and only appeared once a month. They were then moved to the early morning hours (Security While You Sleep) for those computers that were compatible with the power management requirements and the interruptions went away.

There may not be a Windows 11 or 12 because Microsoft is releasing enhancements twice a year for Windows 10 as what it calls Feature Updates. Security updates, now known as Quality Updates, continue to be once a month. Addressing deficiencies and adding new features no longer depends on Service Packs and new versions of Windows released years apart.

But security as implemented in Windows has to be disruptive and for too many years we in IT looked the other way and indulged everyone in avoiding the pain. Now we are finding that third-party software vendors are requiring newer releases of Windows 10 as the baseline for their own updates. So we must move on.

Existing computers will be updated to a current stable version of Windows. We will lag one version (roughly six months) so others can find the problems with new releases. This will be an intensive effort working within each department and with special handling for each computer as we will be leaping ahead three to five years.

We will start building replacement computers with this stable version and then continue moving forward. But once we catch up, continuing with the Feature Updates and the inherent disruptions will have to be normal operating procedure and we will have to work out a process to keep moving forward while minimizing, but not eliminating, disruptions.

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