With monthly updates and cumulative quality patches, it can be easy for Windows 10 enterprise users to unintentionally forget about looming end-of-service dates without managed services.
But following the release of version 1803, it’s more imperative than ever businesses pay attention to reduce disruption and remain 100% secure when deploying semi-annual Windows 10 feature upgrades.
How? By leveraging Windows as a Service (WaaS) and expert managed services.
What happened with the Windows 10 April 2018 update?
Microsoft has reduced the free support extension period for Windows 10 Enterprise by six months with the latest April 2018 Windows 10 update.
The Windows 10 lifecycle fact sheet was quietly revised following 1803’s roll-out, revealing it would not get the extra support and effectively marking the end of the 24-month support cycle.
This change is a step-down from the four preceding feature updates: 1511, 1607, 1703 and 1709, which gave Windows 10 Enterprise and Education license holders six-months extra of ongoing support.
As confirmed on the revised fact sheet:
"Windows 10 version 1511, 1607, 1703 and 1709 will continue to receive monthly servicing updates at no-cost for a period of 6 months past the end of service dates."
Microsoft previously opted to aid organisations with a supplemental Windows update service to make their transition to Windows as a Service (WaaS) smoother, but it's clear now they're ending this offer.
All editions of the 1803 update will continue to be updated with bug fixes and security patches until November 2019, but free supplemental servicing past the standard 18-month period is now over.
Businesses need to become more proactive than ever in keeping their systems up-to-date as the period of free support expires in the wake of the 1803 update.
Why stay current with WaaS?
The biggest threat to infrastructure and productivity in any organisation using Office and Windows 10 is a lack of forward planning around the product support life cycle.
November 2019 seems like quite a long way away right now, but it can often take months to properly test business-critical applications and pilot feature upgrades before rolling them out organisation wide.
Factor in dealing with other unforeseen problems - like the April 2018 Windows 10 update’s compatibility issues with certain Intel SSDs - and those 18-months can feasibly turn into something closer to 12 months of actual hardware, performance, stability, and support from Microsoft.
There are many more self-explanatory reasons to stay on top of your Windows as a Service feature upgrades in order to avoid complicated, last-minute deployments.
- Improved management, performance and stability
- Enhanced security against modern threats and zero-day attacks
- Latest hardware support from Microsoft
- Microsoft Office 365 application updates
Even if you have not updated to the latest version yet, end-of-service is fast approaching for older versions of Windows 10 Enterprise and Education, which may affect your organisation if unprepared for applications compatibility testing or if you lack managed services.
Version 1703 support ends later this year on October 9, 2018, while 1709 support ends on April 9, 2019. Meanwhile, businesses running version 1607 are now out of support after it expired last month.
The costs of Windows as a Service
Staying current with Windows 10 upgrades also incurs significant cost, which businesses need to adequately prepare for.
A recent report conducted by Gartner Research examined the rapid release schedule of Windows as Service and its twice-annual feature updates. Using the example of a hypothetical 2,500-person firm, Gartner estimated enterprise costs for deploying one or two major updates each year.
The firm's IT environment was unmanaged in in one scenario and stringently regulated in the other. For both, Gartner revealed the estimated expense for deployment on each PC over six years, one upgrade a year, and two upgrades a year.
The older six-year upgrade cycle would cost the firm $445 to update PCs if unmanaged and $256 if managed. Meanwhile, the current once-a-year upgrade cycle would cost the firm $462 to update unmanaged PCs and $258 for managed environments, as calculated over six years.
Upgrading systems twice-a-year over six years, however, would cost the firm $792 to update unmanaged PCs, representing a 78% increase. Even if the IT environment is managed, it would still cost $504 altogether, representing a 97% increase. As Gartner concluded:
"Organisations that deploy two updates per year will have significantly higher costs than when they did one upgrade every six years. This model results in a different pattern for staffing and budgeting. Tasks that used to be done in a separately funded project - possibly with help from a service provider - become a task that must be done continuously, probably by existing IT staff."
With support for each semi-annual feature upgrade now limited again to 18 months after version 1803, even the most agile enterprises will find it difficult to skip alternating upgrades and deploy only one update a year without the help of external assistance such as managed services.
Windows as a Service deployment with Managed Services
To enable continuous updates and patching capabilities properly, businesses need to remain intimately familiar with the WaaS process and equipped with the right intellectual properties that deliver a smooth upgrade experience.
Managed services aids businesses without specific IT expertise or who require additional assistance in their deployment of updates - or would rather not handle the process at all.
Xello offers several support solutions for Windows as a Service for Melbourne-based businesses, priced to suit various needs and uniquely tailored to help a variety of IT environments.
How to reduce risk, cost and complexity with Windows 10
Interested in learning the best practices for deploying and managing Windows 10?
Xello is conducting a new event in Melbourne on 6 June 2018, which will cover how to reduce costs, complexities and risk with Windows 10.
Follow our links to register and attend Windows 10: How to reduce risk, cost & complexity, supported by our partners at Microsoft Australia, Rhipe and Lenovo.