What Microsoft’s Rapid-Release Cycle Means for IT

Brien Posey, Freelance Writer and Former CIO | 10/10/2013 | 16 comments

Brien Posey
Are you ready for a new Windows OS release every year?

A couple of months ago during the BUILD conference in San Francisco, Steve Ballmer publicly said that rapid release is going to become the new norm for Microsoft. This represents a radical departure from the way that Microsoft has released its flagship products over the last decade or more. Where there used to be a gap of two or three years between Windows releases, Microsoft is planning on releasing new operating systems much more frequently.

Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 serve as strong evidence of Microsoft’s commitment to the rapid-release cycle. Both operating systems are being released roughly a year after the previous operating system.

Obviously, Microsoft developers have their work cut out for them, but they aren’t the only ones who will be feeling the pressure. IT pros in shops where Microsoft products are used are also going to be feeling the heat and will have to rethink the way the way they deploy new releases. There are some things that will have to be considered.

It is commonly repeated wisdom that it is a bad idea to deploy any new Microsoft product until the first service pack is released. The idea behind this philosophy is that by the time the first service pack comes out, the most critical bugs will have been discovered and fixed. Waiting for the first service pack theoretically means a stable product and an easier migration.

The problem is that Microsoft is poised to release Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows 8.1 within the next few weeks. The first service packs have yet to be released for Windows Server 2012 or for Windows 8.

Microsoft isn’t doing away with service packs altogether. There have been recent service pack releases for some other Microsoft products. Microsoft has released service packs for SQL Server 2012 and System Center 2012. If Microsoft’s goal is to perform rapid releases, then it is going to be stretching its development team thin. There might not be enough resources available to create new operating systems and new service packs for old ones.

In some cases, I think that the next operating system release will essentially be the service pack. Microsoft is making Windows 8.1 available for free to customers who have purchased Windows 8. As such, the argument could be made that Windows 8.1 is more of a service release than a major operating system release (although the other argument can also be made).

In any case, waiting for a service pack release may no longer be an option. As such, organizations are going to have to come up with a policy governing which operating systems (and other new product versions) they are going to deploy.

On one hand, deploying the latest operating system immediately means getting all the latest features and capabilities. On the other hand, operating system deployments are expensive. Even if you take the licensing costs out of the equation, there are a lot of man-hours that go into planning, testing, and performing operating system upgrades.

Another consideration is training and education. If Microsoft is releasing new operating systems on a frequent basis, then it stands to reason that Microsoft certifications will quickly become dated. IT pros may find themselves taking certification exams on a more frequent basis.

I haven’t seen any official information from Redmond as to how the certification process will be handled with regard to rapid release. However, I do think that there are numerous clues buried in the past.

One thing that I expect to see is exam content simply being updated to cover the latest operating systems. For example, when Microsoft released Windows Server 2008 R2, it updated the Windows Server 2008 exam to include material specific to the new operating system. This threw a monkey wrench into the works for anyone who was studying for a Windows Server 2008 exam and was not expecting to see the new material. I think that we will see this trend continue, because it is less expensive for Microsoft to add new questions to an existing exam then for it to develop an entirely new exam.

Another thing that Microsoft has done in the past is to offer upgrade exams. That way, those who are already certified do not have to take an entire battery of certification exams just to become certified on the latest operating system. Instead, Microsoft provides eligible exam candidates with a single exam that covers the most important aspects of the new operating system. As rapid release builds up steam, I think that upgrade exams will probably become a lot more common.

As of right now, the new rapid-release cycle is still too new to know exactly how it will play out. It may be that as releases come faster, shops will adapt to them. Otherwise they may choose to skip releases (which of course has its own risks, especially around security). Cycles are getting faster around mobile devices as well, so Microsoft isn’t the only company forcing you to adapt to quicker releases. You need to start rethinking your plan for deploying updates.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Rich Krajewski   What Microsoft’s Rapid-Release Cycle Means for IT   10/24/2013 1:10:49 PM
Re: KRACK!
It's more like a rapid-relapse cycle.
Rich Krajewski   What Microsoft’s Rapid-Release Cycle Means for IT   10/24/2013 2:21:21 AM
Re: KRACK!
"@Rich- At least let's point out that Windows 8.1 if free to Windows 8 users so they might be cracking the whip as you say, but it isn't a money game they're playing."

Oh, but there's a reason they shouldn't be charging for Windows 8.1, rapid release or not:

http://www.forbes.com/sites/larrymagid/2013/10/17/windows-8-1-upgrade-not-working-after-3-attempts-on-2-machines/



I mean, they're saying in effect it's like my blinking Vista all over again, for Pete's sake, and that was a smegging nightmare! It took, in reality and actuality, literally, twelve months to recover from, because Windows couldn't restore my "previous version of Windows"! So now I'm afraid to upgrade to this "8.1," even for free, and I've got more than one free ticket! But, you watch, this dry run for "rapid release" will release the trap door to IT hell.

 

But, oh, that's right, we're still outsourcing IT. It will be somebody else's problem! Maybe that was the intent of this cattle prod operating system all along!

Okay, never mind!

See you in the cigar lounge, fellow CIOs! The sales rep is paying!
batye   What Microsoft’s Rapid-Release Cycle Means for IT   10/14/2013 3:30:32 AM
Re: Microsoft's Rapid-Release Cycle
with Microsoft and Apple you never know... as they play they own games...
batye   What Microsoft’s Rapid-Release Cycle Means for IT   10/14/2013 3:29:18 AM
Re: Microsoft's Rapid-Release Cycle
in Canada I still see Win98SE running in some shops... XP will be staying for a long time...
batye   What Microsoft’s Rapid-Release Cycle Means for IT   10/14/2013 3:28:15 AM
Re: Applesoft
yes, Joe I miss MS-Dos to, life was much simpler in the past... it work or it do not... but now... I have on my screen it works but with error... sad 
Joe Stanganelli   What Microsoft’s Rapid-Release Cycle Means for IT   10/12/2013 11:53:30 AM
Applesoft
This strikes me as another way Microsoft is trying to be like Apple (what with Apple's all-too-frequent (and all-too-buggy) iOS updates).  Le sigh.  I miss MS-DOS.
eethtworkz   What Microsoft’s Rapid-Release Cycle Means for IT   10/12/2013 11:02:06 AM
Re: Microsoft's Rapid-Release Cycle
Houngbo,

Its quite interesting actually.

Many Older Enterprises don't use Virtualization and Extensive Cloud Computing in such a Massive Way to ensure that they need to Upgrade.

As far as BYOD is concerned;Most Devices still come with Support for XP(including Drivers);Hardware Manufacturers are not stupid-They know where their Market is and will take whatever steps are essential to gain as much market-share as possible and since XP has a very significant market-share,I see no reason why Anyone would not provide support for that OS.

 
Hospice_Houngbo   What Microsoft’s Rapid-Release Cycle Means for IT   10/11/2013 6:50:55 PM
Re: Microsoft's Rapid-Release Cycle
"Plus if something is working properly,Why would you want to upgrade it?" -- It depends. Windows XP can't easily support most of the new techonologies such as BYOD, new requirements for virtualization and cloud computing. So companies will need to upgrade their systems from WinXP to newer OSes for compatibility and efficiency reasons.
eethtworkz   What Microsoft’s Rapid-Release Cycle Means for IT   10/11/2013 12:10:54 PM
Re: Microsoft's Rapid-Release Cycle
Zerox,

Things are'nt as simple as they seem.

As the Following Study from Fiberlink clearly demonstrates ;Windows XP still remains a Dominant OS in the Enterprise.


http://www.csoonline.com/article/741080/despite-looming-end-of-life-study-shows-xp-remains-primary-os


I was giving it some Thought as to why that was so,And the only real answer that kept coming back was the Costs involved in Upgrades.

Plus if something is working properly,Why would you want to upgrade it?

IT should be a Profit-Centre and not a Cost-Centre in the Enterprise.

Unfortunately with this Super-Fast Release Cycle from Microsoft the Latter becomes true more often than not.

Then there are also some Serious Security Issues involved with Windows 8 which they have'nt addressed effectively enough so far.

http://www.csoonline.com/article/732484/complexity-of-the-windows-8-makes-it-vulnerable-to-attack-kaspersky

All in all,A lot of work still needs to be done from Microsoft.

 
zerox203   What Microsoft’s Rapid-Release Cycle Means for IT   10/10/2013 11:20:22 PM
Re: Microsoft's Rapid-Release Cycle
That's very true, Hospice. That's a good example of saying a lot with a little right there. People are quick to lump Microsoft into broad or simple categories - IE 'microsoft isn't what it used to be' or 'microsoft can't keep up'. It's not like there's no amount of truth to these, but they're gross oversimplifications. They're a huge company with massive resources that few other in the world can match. Of course there is a huge internal plan there and awareness of everything that's going on in modern computing - a few strange choices here and there notwithstanding.

I also want to second what Dave is saying. There's definitely a little bit of intentional PR spin going on here. Of course, I'll wait to have the software in my hands to say anything, but the changes don't seem all that different from what might be offered in a service pack. This goes hand in hand with what I'm saying above, though - it's an intentional plan with broad implications. Even a company as big as Microsoft can't deny that the refresh cycle is changing.... but they're determined to put their own spin on it.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>


The blogs and comments posted on EnterpriseEfficiency.com do not reflect the views of TechWeb, EnterpriseEfficiency.com, or its sponsors. EnterpriseEfficiency.com, TechWeb, and its sponsors do not assume responsibility for any comments, claims, or opinions made by authors and bloggers. They are no substitute for your own research and should not be relied upon for trading or any other purpose.

More Blogs from Brien Posey
Brien Posey   4/15/2014   28 comments
Being a CIO is a tough job, but the job can be even tougher if you have a department manager who is just a little too aggressive toward you or the staff. Fortunately, there are some ...
Brien Posey   4/8/2014   19 comments
For those of us who work in IT, one of the most disturbing trends over the last couple of years has been the all-out push from vendors to move seemingly anything and everything to the cloud.
Brien Posey   4/1/2014   21 comments
One of the most important and yet least glamorous tasks that must be performed in IT is that of documentation. Even if an IT shop is not subject to any sort of federal regulation requiring ...
Brien Posey   3/26/2014   27 comments
With increasing frequency, healthcare IT is being charged with helping to use data analytic techniques to derive meaningful business intelligence from existing data. For example, it is ...
Brien Posey   3/19/2014   9 comments
It is no big secret that Electronic Health Records implementations have been especially problematic for certain organizations. The incentives for providers to achieve meaningful use and ...
Latest Archived Broadcast
We talk with Bernard Golden about accelerating application delivery in the cloud.
On-demand Video with Chat
Register for this video discussion to learn how tablets can provide true business usability and productivity.
4/23/2014 - Dell Compellent performance and features make it an outstanding storage platform for SQL Server. Register for this webinar now.
4/29/2014 - Join Dell and Intel for an interactive discussion about implementing, refining and improving your virtual environment. Specifically we’ll discuss pain points virtualization can solve and those that it can create and how to prevent them.
E2 IT Migration Zones
IT Migration Zone - UK
Why PowerShell Is Important
Reduce the Windows 8 Footprint for VDI
Rethinking Storage Management
IT Migration Zone - FR
SQL Server : 240 To de mémoire flash pour votre data warehouse
Quand Office vient booster les revenus Cloud et Android de Microsoft
Windows Phone : Nokia veut davantage d'applications (et les utilisateurs aussi)
IT Migration Zone - DE
Cloud Computing: Warum Unternehmen trotz NSA auf die „private“ Wolke setzen sollten
Cloud Computing bleibt Wachstumsmarkt – Windows Azure ist Vorreiter
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Enterprise Efficiency Twitter Feed
Site Moderators Wanted
Enterprise Efficiency is looking for engaged readers to moderate the message boards on this site. Engage in high-IQ conversations with IT industry leaders; earn kudos and perks. Interested? E-mail:
moderators@enterpriseefficiency.com
Dell's Efficiency Modeling Tool
The major problem facing the CIO is how to measure the effectiveness of the IT department. Learn how Dell’s Efficiency Modeling Tool gives the CIO two clear, powerful numbers: Efficiency Quotient and Impact Quotient. These numbers can be transforma¬tive not only to the department, but to the entire enterprise.

Read the full report
The State of Enterprise Efficiency in the Virtual Era: Virtualization – Smart Approaches to Maximize Gains
Virtualization is a presence in nearly all enterprise data centers. But not all companies are using it to its best effect. Learn the common characteristics of success, what barriers companies face, and how to get the most from your efforts.

Read the full report
Informed CIO: Dollars & Sense: Virtual Desktop Infrastructure
Cut through the VDI hype and get the full picture -- including ROI and the impact on your Data Center -- to make an informed decision about your virtual desktop infrastructure deployments.

Read the full report
SPONSORED BY DELL
CASE STUDIES
EBOOKS
PUBLIC SECTOR RESOURCES
VIDEOS
WHITE PAPERS
WINDOWS SERVER 2012 RESOURCES
A Video Case Study – Translational Genomics Research Institute
e2 Video


On the Case
TGen IT: Where We're Going Next

7|11|12   |   08:12   |   10 comments


Now that TGen has broken new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions, the company discusses what will come next for it and for personalized medicine.
On the Case
Better Care Through Better Communications

6|6|12   |   02:24   |   12 comments


The achievements of the TGen/Dell project could improve how all people receive healthcare, because they are creating ways to improve end-to-end communication of medical data.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Are Now

5|15|12   |   06:58   |   5 comments


TGen is breaking new ground in genomic research by using Dell's storage, cloud, and high-performance computing solutions.
On the Case
TGen IT: Where We Were

4|27|12   |   06:45   |   10 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute wanted to save lives, but its efforts were hobbled by immense computing challenges related to collecting, processing, sharing, and storing enormous amounts of data.
On the Case
1,200% Faster

4|18|12   |   02:27   |   12 comments


Through their partnership, Dell and TGen have increased the speed of TGen’s medical research by 1,200 percent.
On the Case
IT May Improve Children's Chances of Survival

4|17|12   |   02:12   |   8 comments


IT is helping medical researchers reach breakthroughs in a way and pace never seen before.
On the Case
Medical Advances in the Cloud

4|10|12   |   1:25   |   5 comments


TGen and Dell are pushing the boundaries of computing, and harnessing the power of the cloud to improve healthcare.
On the Case
TGen: Living the Mission

4|9|12   |   2:25   |   3 comments


TGen's CIO puts the organizational mission at the heart of everything the IT staff does.
On the Case
TGen Speeding Up Biomedical Research to Save More Lives

4|5|12   |   1:59   |   8 comments


The Translational Genomics Research Institute is revamping its computing to improve speed, storage, and collaboration – and, most importantly, to save lives.
On the Case
Computing Power Helping to Save Children's Lives

3|28|12   |   2:13   |   3 comments


The Translational Genomics Institute’s partnership with Dell is enabling them to treat kids with neuroblastoma more quickly and save more lives.
Tom Nolle
The Big Reason to Use Office

3|18|14   |   02:24   |   19 comments


Office and personal productivity tools come in a first-class and coach flavor set, but what makes the difference is primarily little things that most users won't encounter. What's the big issue in using something other than Office, and can you get around it?
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Mobile Security — A Use Case

3|4|14   |   04:27   |   6 comments


New mobile security solutions can accommodate a wide array of needs, including those of a complex university environment.
Tom Nolle
Killing Net Neutrality Might Save You Money

1|16|14   |   2:13   |   11 comments


The DC Court of Appeals voided most of the Neutrality Order, and whatever it might mean for the Internet overall, it might mean better and cheaper Internet VPNs for businesses.
Tom Nolle
The Internet of Everythinguseful

1|10|14   |   2:18   |   19 comments


We really don't want an "Internet of Everything" but even building an Internet of Everythinguseful means setting some ground rules to insure there's value in the process and that costs and risks are minimized.
Tom Nolle
Maturing Google Chrome

12|30|13   |   2.18   |   25 comments


Google's Chrome OS has a lot of potential value and a lot of recent press, but it still needs something to make it more than a thin client. It needs cloud integration, it needs extended APIs via web services, and it needs to suck it up and support a hard drive.
Sara Peters
No More Cookie-Cutter IT

12|23|13   |   03.58   |   21 comments


Creating the right combination of technology, people, and processes for your IT organization is a lot like baking Christmas cookies.
Sara Peters
Smart Wigs Not a Smart Idea

12|5|13   |   3:01   |   46 comments


Sony is seeking a patent for wigs that contain computing devices.
Tom Nolle
Cloud in the Wild

12|4|13   |   02:23   |   15 comments


On a recent African trip I saw examples of the value of the cloud in developing nations, for educational and community development programs. We could build on this, but not only in developing economies, because these same programs are often under-supported even in first-world countries.
E2 Editors
SPONSORED: Is Malware Evading Your IPS?

11|18|13   |   03:16   |   4 comments


Intrusion prevention software is supposed to detect and block malware intrusions, but clever malware authors can evade your IPS in these five main ways.
Sara Peters
Where Have All the Mentors Gone?

9|27|13   |   3:15   |   38 comments


A good professional mentor can change your life for the better... but where do you find one?
Tom Nolle
SDN Wars & You Could Win

9|17|13   |   2:10   |   5 comments


VMware's debate with Cisco on SDN might finally create a fusion between an SDN view that's all about software and another that's all about network equipment. That would be good for every enterprise considering the cloud and SDN.
Ivan Schneider
The Future of the Smart Watch

9|12|13   |   3:19   |   39 comments


Wearing a bulky, oversized watch is good training for the next phase in wristwatches: the Internet-enabled, connected watch. Why the smartphone-tethered connected watch makes sense, plus Ivan demos an entirely new concept for the "smart watch."
Tom Nolle
Cutting Your Cloud Storage Costs

9|4|13   |   2:06   |   3 comments


Cloud storage costs are determined primarily by the rate at which files are changed and the possibility of concurrent access/update. If you can structure your storage use to optimize these factors you can cut costs, perhaps to zero.
Sara Peters
Do CIOs Need an IT Background?

8|29|13   |   2:11   |   23 comments


Most of the CIOs interviewed in the How to Become a CIO series did not start their careers as IT professionals. So is an IT background essential?
Ivan Schneider
The Internet Loves Birthdays

8|27|13   |   3:25   |   69 comments


The Internet has evolved into a machine for drumming up a chorus of "Happy Birthday" messages, from family, friends, friends of friends who you added on Facebook, random people that you circled on G+, and increasingly, automated bots. Enough already.