Windows Server abandons Microsoft’s WaaS


Microsoft last month scrapped a four-year experiment in which it provided multiple updates to Windows Server each year and will instead reuse the practice of upgrading every few years that it had codified for decades. .

The change was the company’s biggest retreat in Redmond, Wash. to date compared to Windows Fast Track Release and Upgrade, which it adopted first for nameplate client software, and later for Server.

“Starting with Windows Server 2022, only one primary release channel is available, the Long Term Maintenance Channel,” Microsoft explained in Windows Server release tempo documentation. “With the Long Term Maintenance Channel, a new major version of Windows Server is released every 2-3 years. Users are entitled to 5 years of standard support and 5 years of extended support.”

In the same document that named the Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) as the only version of Windows Server 2022, Microsoft also hinted – without saying it clearly – that the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC), the name of the publication line, which delivered two updates per year, is dead and gone for Server.

Previously released SAC versions for Windows Server that are still supported, including 1909, 2004 and 20H2, will receive this support, Microsoft said. However, there will be no future versions of SAC.

SAC either

In June 2017, Microsoft announced that it would begin delivering SAC updates to Windows Server starting in the fall with the refresh designated as 1709 in the then standard of the company yyamm format. The idea, Microsoft said, was to synchronize the release cadence of Windows Server with that of Windows 10 and Office 365, both of which have been updated twice a year as part of an accelerated pace that began in 2015. with the launch of Windows 10.

“We had two groups of customers. One who wanted slow consistency and another who wanted continuous innovation,” Microsoft said in a blog post four years ago as it described why it offered both LTSC and SAC release schedules and support lifecycles for Windows Server 2016.

These justifications apparently no longer apply.

Instead, only an LTSC version of Windows Server 2022 – the next in line – will be offered to customers. As with other versions of LTSC, Windows Server 2022 will be supported for a total of 10 years, the first five as general support, the second five as extended support.

While Microsoft has not revealed a definitive release date for Windows Server 2022, it has announced that it will launch the upgrade in the second half of this year. Onset in October or November is most likely; the last two versions of LTSC for Server were deployed during these months. (August 17, Microsoft has announced plans to host the digital “Windows Server Summit” on September 16; one of the items on the agenda is “Get the latest news and announcements for Windows Server 2022”. It seems fair to expect a release date to be among the announcements on this day.)

With the server move, Microsoft comes full circle

By dropping the SAC versions, Microsoft has come full circle; it brought Windows Server back to its pre-2015 upgrade cadence every three or four years. (Windows Server 2016 to Windows Server 2019 to Windows Server 2022, three-year intervals; Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2012 to Windows Server 2016; four-year intervals.) Support has been formalized again at 10 years and 10 years only; there are no longer 18-month SAC support cycles. And the old practice of releasing new features only at that three to four year rate has been restored, with LTSC releases only – in other words, every two or three years – not, theoretically at least, every. SAC version producing something new and shiny. (This was never the reality of the SAC versions.)

Microsoft has turned away from its famous Windows-as-a-Service (WaaS) in other ways of course, including with the Windows client itself. With the announcement earlier this summer of Windows 11, and the information about its new maintenance strategy as well as the maintenance mechanics, it’s obvious that WaaS is an empty term for something that Microsoft no longer provides.

Even so, Windows 11 and its still-current and supported predecessor, Windows 10, haven’t gone as far as Windows Server in reversing in recent years. The Windows client, for example, will retain SAC versions (as well as LTSC versions) and support lifecycles of less than 10 years. (The longest SAC support cycle is 36 months, compared to 30 months for Windows Enterprise and Windows Education.)

But if Microsoft has a last in, first out policy with Windows, then Server, which followed the Windows client in WaaS and now will be the first to come out, may be a harbinger of how the customer is changing down the line.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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