The Windows Semi-Annual Channel and Targeted Deployment

As you may have already seen on the Windows Experience blog, yesterday we announced that the Windows 10 Creators Update is ready for broad deployment. Additionally, we announced a transition from the Current Branch (CB) and Current Branch for Business (CBB) model of Windows releases to a more predictable, twice-yearly release cadence called the Semi-Annual Channel. With the Semi-Annual Channel, each year we are targeting the release of two Windows Feature Updates, one in March and the other in September, each of which with an 18-month servicing timeline. You can read more about this new Semi-Annual Channel at the Windows for IT Pros blog in Windows as a service: Simplified and Aligned.

Along with this change comes some new terminology, specifically the terms targeted and broad deployment. While these terms roughly correspond with the CB and CBB nomenclature that we've used in the past, they are not an exact translation of these terms and are defined a little differently:

  • Targeted deployment refers to the phase immediately following the release of a new Windows version when it is recommended to conduct your organization's piloting process and to begin deployments to select devices, such as those with the most modern chipsets and capabilities. Surface devices make excellent candidates for these targeted deployments.
  • Broad deployment refers to the phase that follows targeted deployment, where your organizations' pilots and targeted deployments have provided successful feedback and Windows has been vetted for deployment to most or all of your organization's devices.

You can read about these new terms and recommended deployment practices in the updated Update Windows 10 in the enterprise section of Windows Docs, or, for a five-minute video overview, see the Updates to the Windows as a Service model Microsoft Mechanics video.

Where does Surface fit into this process?

Surface devices make excellent candidates for piloting and targeted deployments. The modern form factor, chipsets, and Microsoft-tested and approved environment make Surface devices the logical choice for your first wave of deployments in the targeted phase. You'll also find the latest features and capabilities of Windows on Surface first, like the integration of power management with the Power Slider on Creators Update found first on Surface Pro and Surface Laptop and now available on Surface Pro 4.

New devices also make excellent candidates during the targeted deployment timeframe, especially if your organization's purchase of new hardware aligns with the targeted phase. Not only will these new devices feature the latest chipsets, features, and capabilities, but deploying the latest Windows version to your newest devices helps to eliminate duplication of effort. It makes far more sense to deploy once, with the latest build of Windows, than to deploy your new devices with your organization's standard image for broad deployment, resulting in the need to redeploy those devices again when your organization makes the move to a newer version of Windows.

Visit the Surface IT Center to learn more about Surface devices and the IT practices and tools that make Surface the right choice for business.

Comments (4)

  1. Kim-Andre says:

    What will this mean for the Windows Update GPO settings?
    In the 1703 templates, there’s still options for CB and CBB, what do these two now mean?

    Will there only be one channel to choose from in the future, and will we have to defer the updates based on your recommendations?

  2. techs uk says:

    Still confused.
    So as of today: shows:
    Semi-Annual Channel 1803
    Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) 1709
    But I thought that it should be the other way around? You are rolling 1803 out in a TARGETED way to consumers (it isn’t available on MPSA download yet).
    In ConfigMgr the servicing plans for ‘semi-annual targeted’ ring has 1803, but the semi-annual ring does not have 1803 (as I would have expected from your article).

  3. yannara says:

    Will there be info released then Semi-Annual hits “Broad” status? Will there still be 4 month gap?

    1. The release status of Windows 10 versions is recorded in Windows 10 release information.

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