Last month Microsoft abandoned a four-year experiment in which it provided multiple updates to Windows Server every year and will instead re-use the update every few years practice it had coded for decades.
The change was the Redmond, Washington, State-based company’s biggest withdrawal from the Windows accelerated release and update regime, which was adopted first for the nameplate client software and then for Server.
“Starting with Windows Server 2022 there is a major release channel, the long-term maintenance channel,” Microsoft explained in Windows Server Release Time Documentation. “With the Long-Term Servicing Channel, a new major version of Windows Server is released every 2-3 years. Users are entitled to 5 years of mainstream support and 5 years of extended support.”
In the same document that named Long-Term Servicing Channel (LTSC) as the only version of Windows Server 2022, Microsoft also implied, without saying it clearly, that the Semi-Annual Channel (SAC), the name of the release line that delivered two updates per year , died and died for Server.
Previously released SAC versions for Windows Server that still have the support due to them, including 1909, 2004 And 20H2, will receive such support, Microsoft said. However, there will be no future versions of SAC.
SAC no more
In June 2017, Microsoft announced that it would begin providing SAC updates to Windows Server starting in the fall with the update designated as 1709 in the then company standard yyyy 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 are updated twice a year as part of an accelerated pace that began in 2015 with the debut of Windows 10.
“We had two types of customers. One who wanted slow consistency and another who wanted continuous innovation,” Microsoft said in a blog post from four years ago as it described why it offered both LTSC and SAC release calendars and support lifecycles for Windows Server 2016.
Those reasons apparently no longer apply.
Instead, customers will only be offered an LTSC version of Windows Server 2022, the next in line. As with other LTSC releases, Windows Server 2022 will be supported for a total of 10 years, the first five as mainstream support, the second five as extended support.
While Microsoft hasn’t revealed a final release date for Windows Server 2022, it has said it will launch the update in the second half of this year. A debut in October or November is more likely; the last two versions of LTSC for Server were launched during those months. (August 17th, Microsoft said it 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 about Windows Server 2022”. It seems fair to expect a release date in the announcements that day.)
With the move of the server, Microsoft comes full circle
By abandoning the SAC versions, Microsoft has come full circle; reported Windows Server to its pre-2015 refresh rate every three to four years. (Windows Server 2016 to Windows Server 2019 to Windows Server 2022, three-year intervals; Windows Server 2008 to Windows Server 2012 through Windows Server 2016; four-year intervals.) Support has been formalized again at 10 years and only 10 years; there are no more 18-month SAC support cycles. And the previous practice of releasing new features and functionality only at that three to four year rate has been reinstated, with only LTSC releases – in other words, every two or three years – not, at least in theory, every SAC release it produces. something new and brilliant. (This was never the reality of the SAC releases.)
Microsoft has obviously ditched its vaunted Windows-as-a-Service (WaaS) in other ways, most notably with the Windows client itself. With the announcement earlier this summer of Windows 11 and information about its new maintenance strategy and maintenance mechanisms, it’s obvious that WaaS is a meaningless term for something Microsoft no longer offers.
Even so, Windows 11 and its still current and supported Windows 10 predecessor haven’t gone as far as Windows Server to reverse the past few 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 is practicing a last-in-first-out policy with Windows, then Server, which followed the Windows client in WaaS and now, he will be the first to come out, it could be a harbinger of how the customer changes down the line.
Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.