Microsoft today announced that they will be committed to coordinated twice a year Windows 10 and Office releases. This is ultimately is the Redmond giant's way to make feature release schedules more manageable and predictable for IT Pros and in enterprise deployments.
According to Microsoft, the coordinated twice a year Windows 10 and Office releases will reflect the company's "commitment to helping make it easier to service and deploy Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus." This also eliminates the need for "large-scale, costly wipe-and-replace Windows deployments," and helps make deployments and updates of Microsoft products easier. Microsoft explains.
- Windows is committing to a predictable twice-per-year feature release schedule, targeting September and March of each year, aligning with Office 365 ProPlus. The next Windows 10 feature update will be targeted for September 2017.
- Each Windows 10 feature release will be serviced and supported for 18 months. This is consistent with our current Windows 10 approach, but adds further clarity and predictability to organizations by aligning with Office 365 ProPlus.
- In addition, System Center Configuration Manager will support this new aligned update model for Office 365 ProPlus and Windows 10, making both easier to deploy and keep up to date.
On the Office 365 ProPlus side of things, Microsoft is moving from the three times a year feature upgrade plan to two times a year feature upgrade plan. According to Microsoft, this is because "Moving to Office 365 ProPlus requires an initial upgrade and ongoing management of regular updates." These changes are mainly aimed at businesses and commercial services with subscription-based Office 365 Pro Plus plans, so here is what you need to know if you fall into those categories.
Targeting September 2017, we will make the following changes to the Office 365 ProPlus update model:
- Two updates a year. We will reduce the Office 365 ProPlus update cadence from three to two times a year, with semi-annual feature updates to Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus targeted for March and September.
- 18 months of support. We will extend the support period for Office 365 ProPlus semi-annual updates from 12 to 18 months (starting from first release) so IT professionals can choose to update once or twice a year.
- System Center Configuration Manager support. System Center Configuration Manager will support this new aligned update model for Office 365 ProPlus and Windows 10, making it easier to deploy and update the two products together.
As noted by Mary Joe Foley at ZDNet, these changes to Office 365 does not affect non-subscription based Office client apps and suites, or Web versions of Office apps. There is also some changes to the Office 365 system requirements, and starting October 13, 2020, Office 365 ProPlus or Office perpetual in mainstream support will be required to connect to Office 365 services. Microsoft dives into all the details on the Office changes here, and the changes to Windows here, so be sure to check it out if you'd like to see the technical aspects.