Microsoft Confirms Six-Month Windows 10 Update Schedule

Microsoft said that Windows 10 will now be on a six-month upgrade cycle like the one used for Office 365 ProPlus. The move is supposed to make it easier for the company's business customers to know when updates will be released and for how long each version of Windows 10 will be supported.

This update schedule doesn't come as much of a surprise. Microsoft released the Windows 10 Anniversary Update in August 2016, and the Creators Update made its public debut on April 11, leaving a seven-month gap between the flagship upgrades. Now the company has confirmed that it plans to release two updates per year--one in September and one in March--and said the Creators Update's antecedent should arrive in September 2017.

Microsoft also said that each version of Windows 10 will be "serviced and supported" for 18 months (like they are now) to add "further clarity and predictability to organizations by aligning with Office 365 ProPlus." The company's System Center Configuration Manager, which allows businesses to manage all their systems from one central platform, will also become part of the further entrenched twice-per-year upgrade schedule.

Microsoft explained the reasoning behind these decisions in its blog post:

These changes reflect our commitment to help make it easier to deploy and service Windows 10 and Office 365 ProPlus. The Windows, Office and E+MS teams will continue to seek more ways to make deployment easier, and we look forward to your continued feedback to help us with that process.

A predictable release schedule and relatively short windows of support could encourage more businesses to stay up to date with new versions of Windows 10. Many businesses currently use old and potentially unsupported versions of Windows. This decision often allows them to save money, continue using software created specifically for those versions of Windows, and avoid teaching employees the changes in Windows 10.

Yet relying on those outdated platforms also makes businesses vulnerable to attack. Microsoft patches security flaws, like the ones revealed by The Shadow Brokers earlier this month, in updates to current versions of Windows. Using their un-patched predecessors means devices can still be compromised. Pushing other companies to use the latest Windows 10 updates could make us (and the companies themselves) a little bit safer.