Windows 10 Servicing Branches and Delivery of Updates

This article talks about Windows 10 servicing branches & how the model works in terms of providing both features, options & security updates to different consumer groups.

Microsoft would be delivering updates in two ways for benefit of consumers of Windows 10. The first type of consumer set was called Current Branch (CB) and would receive updates as soon as the updates are published. The second type of consumer set was named Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) and they would be able to defer updates to reduce downtimes.

In its blog post, Microsoft has mentioned a third set of consumers – Current Branch for Business (CBB),that will be able to wait for a while, like 4 months, and check the adaptability of the new Windows 10 updates before implementing them in their network. This article talks about serving and servicing options of Windows 10 updates.

Windows 10 Servicing Branches

The Home User falls under Current Branch (CB) and will get the Windows 10 updates as soon as they are published. Some Pro and Enterprise users will also be included in this category, so that they too can get the updates when published. The CBB (Current Branch Business) excludes Home edition and allows network admins to assess the updates before deploying them.

The updates are published after the Windows team tests them internally and after they are served to Windows Insiders. Microsoft claims that over a million testers are active as Insiders. They will receive updates as soon as the internal team is satisfied. The team then waits for a certain period of time to receive feedback from Insiders. Based on Insiders’ experience, the update may be modified or can be published to Current Branch directly.

The updates will be ready for download to Current Branch for Business (CBB) and Long Term Servicing Branch too, but they can defer the updates to a date and time that suits them. The delay helps in assessing the impact of the updates on their network systems before they actually push them into the network.

The benefits are that CB can get the published Windows 10 updates – feature updates or security updates – as soon as they are published to Windows Update. The benefits for delaying facility for CBB and LTSB is that they can check out the updates before actually implementing them.

  • For Current Branch (CB), the minimum lifetime for servicing is 4 months.
  • For Current Branch for Business (CBB), the minimum length for update servicing for CBB is 8 months.
  • For Long Term Servicing Branch, the servicing period is 10 years.

Windows 10 Update types

There are two types of updates – Security updates and Feature updates.

Security updates are published when needed and on Patch Tuesdays. Feature updates, according to Microsoft, will be maximum 3 in a year. Each type of releases will be released to Insiders first and based on their feedback, will be modified or released to other consumers: CB; CBB; and LTSB. Security updates may be patches to existing operating systems or may be additions to it so that the OS is better secured.

Feature updates, on the other hand, are entire operating systems. Feature updates replaces the current build of operating systems and hence can be used on even new computers from that point. The aim is to keep Windows 10 updated so that whenever anyone downloads and installs it on an old or new machine, they do not have to waste time downloading all the previous updates. The feature updates will contain all the previous feature and security updates. Since this means a downtime of at least five hours, the feature updates will be limited to two to three per year.

In Windows 10 v1703, you can Pause or Delay/Defer Updates up to 365 days via Settings.

Delivery of Windows 10 Updates to Enterprises

The most common method to get updates is the Windows Update feature in Settings. While Current Branch – the normal users – can use Windows Update to install updates, the enterprise network admins have to defer and select updates that need to be applied to their systems.

This selective installation and delay is not possible using Windows Update as it has more control on updates compared to admins.

To address this problem, IT admins can disable Windows Updates and use Windows Server Update Service. The Windows Server Update Service pulls out the applicable updates from Windows Update and presents it to the IT admins. Then the admins can test the updates on one or two machines and if satisfied, push the updates into the business network.

The following table sums up the article and compares the servicing options in Windows 10 for different types of users. Click on the image to see its larger version.
Windows 10 servicing branches
For more details, please visit Technet.

Check if your Windows 10 computer is of the latest version & build, and has the latest feature upgrades & servicing updates installed.

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Anand Khanse is the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com, a 10-year Microsoft MVP Awardee in Windows (2006-16) & a Windows Insider MVP. Please read the entire post & the comments first, create a System Restore Point before making any changes to your system & be careful about any 3rd-party offers while installing freeware.