While Microsoft might be revved up about getting people onto Windows 10 as fast as possible .As part of its annual tech support showdown, Laptop has uncovered that tech support agents for Dell and HP are actively discouraging customers from upgrading to Windows 10, even going as far as recommending that customers roll back their PCs to older versions in order to solve even simple issues.
Threshold 2, or Windows 10 Fall Update to give it its official name, will see the operating silently upgraded with new functionality as part of the ongoing update procedure
When quizzed as to why customers were being given this advice, the companies stated that while they were committed to Windows 10 – what choice do they really have other than to say that? – the job of tech support is to get people’s PCs up and running again, even if that means rolling the system back to an older version of Windows.
PC OEMs already operate on razor-thin margins, and asking them to take on the job of supporting upgrades is unreasonable, unless the PC was sold with that upgrade in mind, as some were in the run up to the launch of Windows 10. The support calls are an additional cost that the OEMs haven’t accounted for.
And remember, PC OEMs get nothing from the fact that you’ve upgraded operating systems. Sure, they might be able to upsell you something, but the bulk of their money comes from selling new PCs, not by extending the useful life of your existing one.
As Microsoft moves to a “Windows-as-a-Service” model, the support model for PCs we buy will surely have to change, but there’s no such thing as a free lunch and someone is going to have to pick up the tab. Either the consumers are going to be asked to pay more for extended support, or Microsoft is going to have to start paying OEMs to offer support for migrations.
Microsoft has made it clear that it will take on a greater role in managing the Windows update process with Windows 10. The company has also made it clear that it will aggressively push users — both consumers and businesses — to upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8 to its latest OS. With that in mind, it’s hard to image either predecessor hanging around anywhere near as long as Windows XP.
The decision to not only push updates out, but also ensure that all Windows 10 devices receive them in a timely fashion, fits well with the concept of Windows as a service. The change may even go unnoticed by many consumers. IT departments, however, are keenly aware of this shift — and many aren’t happy about it.
Managing Windows updates — old vs. new
Traditionally, Microsoft has given IT the final word on patches and updates. While most departments do roll out critical patches and major updates, they do so on their own time frame and only after significant testing in their specific environment. This ensures that an update doesn’t break an app, a PC configuration or cause other unforeseen issues. If an update is required that could introduce problems, IT can then develop a plan to address the issue in advance of deployment. Some updates might even be judged as unneeded and never get deployed.
With Windows 10, Microsoft is adopting a service-and-update strategy based on a series of tracks known as branches. In this model, both security and feature updates are tested internally and made available to Windows Insiders. When Microsoft feels the updates are ready for primetime, they’re pushed to the Current Branch (CB). CB devices, predominantly used by consumers, receive the updates immediately through Windows Update.
Businesses and enterprises typically fall under the Current Branch for Business (CBB). Like CB devices, CBB hardware will be able to receive updates as soon as they are published, but can defer those updates for a longer period of time. The rationale for this extra time is two-fold. First, the updates will have received extra scrutniy because they have been tested internally, by Windows Insiders and by consumers via the CB so any issues will likely be resolved, or at least identified, during that time. Second, it gives IT shops time to test the updates and develop strategies to deal with potential problems before those updates become mandatory.
Complicating the situation: There are still unknowns about how IT departments will handle the CBB update cadence and process. Microsoft has yet to complete Windows Update for Business (WUB), a set of features and tools that will be made available to organizations that have adopted the CBB update pace. There is also the possibility of using other tools, including Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager (dubbed “Config Manager”), or a third-party patching product that can handle longer postponements.
IT pros aren’t happy
This marks a massive transition in how Windows is deployed, updated and managed in enterprise environments. Many longtime IT pros won’t be comfortable ceding this much control to Microsoft. Susan Bradley, a computer network and security consultant known in Windows circles for her expertise on Microsoft’s patching processes, has become a voice for those IT workers.
In August, Bradley kicked off a request on the matter using Microsoft’s Windows User Voice site asking for a more detailed explanation of the Windows 10 update process. Last month, she upped the ante by starting a Change.org petition demanding additional information from Microsoft as well as a change to how it will deliver updates. As of this week, the petition has more than 5,000 signatures; some signers have noted that they will refuse to move their organizations to Windows 10 unless changes are implemented.
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