Windows 10 Service Branches or Servicing Branches

Windows 10 Service Branch

Microsoft is introducing a new concept for supporting the various versions of Windows 10.

The concept is support by Service Branch or Servicing Branch.

What is a Windows 10 Service Branch or Servicing Branch?

A Service Branch is simply a category of service that you will be eligible for depending on the version of Windows you are paying for.

Apparently, there will be four different service branches:

  • Windows Insider Preview Branch
  • Current Branch (CB)
  • Current Branch for Business (CBB)
  • Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB)

Windows Insider Preview Branch

This is the branch that is reserved for Windows Insiders. You see the Windows Insider program will continue even after Windows 10 is RTM’ed.

Characteristics of the Windows Insider Preview Branch

  • Windows Insiders stay up to date with preview features as they are released
  • Opportunity for enterprise customers to preview upcoming features and influence product development
  • Security updates and fixes are delivered regularly

Versions of Windows affected

Not Applicable for this

Current Branch (CB)

This is the least flexible branch of the three. It requires Windows users to take any new features, fixes and security updates that Microsoft pushes to them via Windows Update. No choice, complaining or flexibility.

Characteristics of the Current Branch

  • Features are released to broad market
  • Customers are up to date with features as they are released after broad preview validation
  • Opportunity for enterprises to test and validate new features
  • Within the 4 month period, ability to flight these features and updates in your organization and provide feedback
    Security updates and fixes are delivered regularly

Versions of Windows affected

  • Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 10 Pro (optional)

Current Branch for Business (CBB)

This is a more flexible branch than the Current Branch when it comes to choosing and scheduling updates.

Users who are running Windows on the CBB will have a choice of how they get these updates – whether via Windows Update for Business or Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

Windows Update for Business is being rolled out with Windows 10 to allow businesses some flexibility with how they roll out updates.

Rumor is, Microsoft will put mechanisms in place to make sure that while CB users can delay some patches, fixes and enhancements for a while, they will not be able to do so indefinitely.

Characteristics of the Current Branch for Business

  • Business customers can start testing as soon as preview features are released via Windows Insider Program
  • Business customers can wait to receive feature updates for an additional period of time, testing and validating in their environment before broad deployment
  • Within the 4 month period, you can flight these features and updates in your organization and provide feedback
    Security updates and fixes are delivered regularly

Versions of Windows affected

  • Windows 10 Pro (optional)
  • Windows 10 Education (optional)

Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB)

The Long Term Servicing Branch has the most flexibility of all. This group of users can refuse everything but security updates.

This group of customers can also move some or all of their users between branches. Simply put, if you are business on the LTSB, you can have some of your users getting updates via CB, some via CBB and some via LTSB.

This is by far the most flexible branch of all and it’s appropriately reserved for the most expensive version of Windows – Enterprise.

Once again, this branch allows users to take only security fixes and defer taking any new features and to handle them via Windows Update for Business and/or WSUS.

Characteristics of the Long Term Servicing Branch

  • Security updates and fixes are delivered regularly
  • Customers on Long Term Servicing Branch receive security and critical fixes only for ten years
  • Customers can move from one LTSB to the next one via in-place upgrade and can skip one LTSB as well
  • Customers manage updates via WSUS
  • Available for Enterprise and Education Editions only

Versions of Windows affected

  • Windows 10 Enterprise

What about Mobile and Mobile Enterprise?

There’s no information out about them right now but it’s not unreasonable to assume that Windows 10 Mobile would be in the Current Branch or CBB because it’s consumer facing.

It’s also not unreasonable to assume that Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise will be in the Long Term Servicing Branch because it’s an enterprise release.

The Bottom Line

Microsoft has put together a very comprehensive strategy around supporting the various versions of Windows when they go live and it actually makes logical sense.

Enterprise customers have the most flexibility and home users have the least – BUT everyone gets security updates.