Windows 10 Branch Selection Strategy

Managing-Windows-10-Updates

Enterprises need to have a Windows 10 branch selection strategy. With the Windows 10 upgrade models, enterprises will need to plan on deploying and supporting multiple branches.

One is Not Enough

Standardization has been a best practice in the enterprise to keep stability high and costs low. The challenge with Windows 10 is the perpetual introduction of new features not to mention all-or-nothing patching. In order to address potential risks, a new approach should be considered with branch selection.

Windows 10 branch strategy:

  1. Standardize – put most machines on one branch
  2. Early Adopters – Use a faster updating branch for a smaller set of systems where you can gather early feedback for potential application compatibility issues
  3. Stability – Use a slower updating branch for systems that need higher stability.

Current Branch for Business Standardization Example

Using the branch strategy, let’s apply this to a company who wants to standardize on Current Branch for Business.

  • Standardize (80-90%) – Current Branch for Business
    • This would encompass most end user computers and some fixed function computers
  • Early Adopters (5-10%) – Current Branch
    • Ideally you want a sample across various departments to account for application differences.
    • Target power users who are able to identify and work with IT to understand issues that may arise.
  • Stability (5-10%) – Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB)
    • This could include control systems for specialized devices such as medical instruments, manufacturing machines, point-of-sale etc.

Obviously there can be some variations of the percentages depending on the enterprise and types of systems therein.

LTSB Standardization Example

Microsoft states that Long Term Servicing Branch is designed for low change devices. With their removal of certain modern features (as outlined in the Windows 10 LTSB Branch article), you can see how they encourage this. That said, many businesses may not want to deal with the frequent feature updates of Current Branch and Current Branch for Business and are willing to pay for LTSB.

In this scenario, complete standardization on LTSB is a reasonable approach as it is very similar to previous Windows deployment strategies. Having a subset of computers on faster moving branches is less important as enterprises can simply evaluate the next update to LTSB (expected every 2-3 years) and deploy as they see fit in their 10-year cycle.

Key Takeaways

Here are the key points to remember and share:

  • Most enterprises should plan on having systems on multiple branches
  • Standardize on one branch, have some systems on a faster updating branch for compatibility testing, and change sensitive systems on a slower updating branch
  • Long Term Servicing Branch is the most likely single branch exception to this model

With the the discussion on Windows 10 branch strategy complete, I will next explore Windows 10 branch update strategy.