Microsoft said Thursday it will commit to a strict schedule for Windows and Office feature updates: every September and March. It's a concession to IT administrators that will ripple down to all users.
The company said it would hew to a “predictable” twice-per-year schedule for both platforms, though there’s still a little wiggle room: Microsoft didn’t specify exact dates within those months. As per the new schedule, the next Windows update, code-named Redstone 3, will be released in September.
Technically, Windows 10, Office 365 ProPlus, and Microsoft’s System Center Configuration Manager are all being aligned on the same schedule. That actually means fewer releases for the basic enterprise version of Office and Office 365 ProPlus, which typically get new feature updates three times per year. Microsoft said it would extend ProPlus support, though, from 12 to 18 months. (The ProPlus subscription includes the standard Office apps like Word and PowerPoint, but excludes some Office services like SharePoint, Yammer, Skype, and Teams.) Consumers who subscribe to Office 365, however, will continue to receive updates more frequently.
“We’ve... heard our customers want more predictability and simplicity from this update servicing model to help make deployments and updates of Microsoft products easier,” Bernando Caldas, the general manager of Windows Commercial Marketing, wrote in a blog post.
Microsoft said each Windows 10 feature update will be officially supported for only 18 months, unchanged from its current timetable. Over 400 million devices uses Windows 10 on a monthly basis, Microsoft said.
The effect on you at home: Probably not that much. The semiannual feature updates will likely just mark iterative improvements to the operating system, with a few notable new features that help distinguish it from other releases. For Microsoft, though, this could mean less auspicious feature bundles, a la the Creators Update, which didn’t quite pan out as promised. If you’re already looking ahead past the Creators Update, you now know about when Redstone 3 is scheduled to drop.