Windows Partner Community: Understanding Windows as a Service, and what it means to you as a partner

by Steve Adams, US Partner Technology Strategist, Windows and Devices

Welcome to this month’s Windows Partner Community blog post.

One of the top questions I get from partners about Windows 10 is about what “Windows as a Service” means, and how they should think about it relative to their businesses. In today’s post, I’ll dig into this topic, in anticipation of the September 29 community call, where we’ll discuss this with Anthony (A.J.) Smith from the Windows team.

Defining Windows as a Service

Windows as a Service lets Microsoft bring continuous security and innovation to our shared customers, through a consistent stream of updates. This is in alignment with the Microsoft cloud services strategy across Office 365, Microsoft Azure, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online. By providing users with always-on updates, we can better protect their systems and let them take advantage of new user experiences, productivity tools, and hardware innovations as they are released by the Windows engineering team. This approach supports the four Windows 10 innovation for business promises:

  1. Protection against modern security threats
  2. Managed for continuous innovation
  3. Increased productivity
  4. Innovative devices for your business

Understanding the partner opportunity

Customer IT departments quickly get concerned when we talk about “forced” updates. When it comes to application and peripheral compatibility, these concerns are understandable. The Windows as a Service strategy takes these concerns into account and gives IT the flexibility they need to deliver updates in a controlled fashion.

There are three scenarios for how Windows as a Services works:

Current Branch For employees that bring their own devices, Current Branch helps assure that those devices will always be up to date and secure. Updates are installed via Windows Update as they arrive.
Long Term Servicing Branch Specialized systems such as traffic control, power grid, and life-saving medical devices are examples of an entirely different class of devices and equipment, and require a different update strategy. On these systems, new functions and features are not critical, but security takes a leading role. Managed with Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), tighter control of these mission-critical systems is a reality, with the ability to lock them down where it is required.
Current Branch for Business

Through Windows Update for Business, customers have the ability to keep their devices secure and up-to-date, while reducing device management costs and providing quick access to the latest security updates. To enable this, there are new and unique opportunities to work with your customers in planning to make this a reality.

  • Creating internal deployment groups, comprising different roles that need different levels of updates. For example, the point-of-sale systems may need security updates more regularly than the IoT device monitoring the warehouse
  • Defining maintenance windows for when a specific device should, or should not, receive updates, with the ability to defer feature updates for up to eight months, giving time to test and validate in the customer environment
  • Peer to peer update delivery, which can help optimize bandwidth
  • Integration into existing tools like System Center

Through our innovative update strategy, Windows as a Service, Microsoft is providing unprecedented flexibility and quality updates to customers. The opportunity is for us to now work together to help all of our customers understand this concept, and plan for the future.

Partner resources

Now that you have an overview of Windows as a Service, here’s what I recommend you do next to make it real for your teams and your customers:


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