Two major Windows 10 updates planned for next year
With the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, aka Windows 10 version 1607, released earlier this week, it’s time to look forward to what’s next.
Windows 10 has multiple release tracks to address the needs of its various customer types. The mainstream consumer release, the one that received the Anniversary Update on Tuesday, is dubbed the Current Branch (CB). The Current Branch for Business (CBB) trails the CB by several months, giving it greater time to bed in and receive another few rounds of bug fixing. Currently the CBB is using last year’s November Update, version 1511. In about four months, Microsoft plans to bump CBB up to version 1607, putting both CB and CBB on the same major version.
The Long Term Servicing Branch, an Enterprise-only version that will receive security and critical issue support for 10 years, will also be updated. Currently, Windows 10 LTSB is essentially the Windows 10 RTM release with certain features such as the Edge browser and Windows Store permanently removed. On October 1, a new Windows 10 LTSB build will be released, starting another 10-year support window.
Going forward, however, the differences between both current branch variants (CB and CBB) and LTSB will become more marked. Microsoft is not planning another major update this year. There will be no equivalent to last year’s 1511 release, but Microsoft will have two next year. These are believed to be codenamed Redstone 2 (rs2) and Redstone 3 (rs3), with this week’s 1607 release being Redstone 1 (rs1). Current expectation is that rs2 will have a heavy mobile focus and be shipped simultaneously with new Surface branded hardware. Microsoft has already started making internal rs2 builds, though little is known about what the major features of the rs2 and rs3 releases will be.
By contrast, LTSB is only due to receive revisions every two or three years. Our assumption is that, in practice, LTSB releases will be paired with Windows Server releases; the back-to-back 2015 and 2016 LTSB builds are a one-off due to Windows 10 being released more than a year before Windows Server 2016. Conventional deployments of Windows Server 2016 will, just like Windows 10 LTSB, receive 10 years of support. Releasing them simultaneously is logical from a bug-fixing perspective.
Nano Server deployments of Windows Server 2016, however, won’t receive 10-year servicing. Instead, they’ll track Windows 10 CBB.