Microsoft Eases Windows 10 Previews for Windows Server Update Services Users
Microsoft on Tuesday announced that it's possible for Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) users to get Windows 10 feature update previews by making a few settings changes.
These Windows 10 feature update previews will arrive monthly for WSUS users and they'll be called "prerelease builds" of Windows 10. Microsoft also has plans to include "Slow Ring" builds from the Windows Insider Program at some point for WSUS users. A Slow Ring release is a supposedly more stable test build of the operating system.
SCCM Needed, Too
The Windows 10 previews are available when using the WSUS management solution integrated with System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), it seems, although the announcement suggested that third-party mobile device management solutions could be used, too. It will specifically be possible to get these Windows 10 previews in WSUS starting with the release of Windows 10 version 1909, which is the upcoming fall feature update release.
The ability to use WSUS and the Windows 10 version 1909 preview is currently available, according to this other Microsoft announcement.
These Windows 10 previews likely won't be available for standalone WSUS users, as SCCM will be needed, too. At least that's an observation offered by Susan Bradley, a Microsoft Most Valuable Professional, in the comments section of Microsoft's announcement.
IT pros apparently will have to opt into getting these Windows 10 previews, if wanted. They seemingly won't arrive by default for WSUS and SCCM users, as Microsoft described having to make some SCCM configuration changes to get them.
For instance, the announcement described needing to turn on the "Windows Insider Pre-Release" option by checking a box that can be found under the Software Update Component Properties in SCCM. Alternatively, if organizations already are using SCCM to distribute Windows Insider Program releases of Windows 10 previews, then they'll see an option for "Windows Insider Pre-release Feature Update to Windows 10 Version 1909" that can be selected in SCCM under "All Windows 10 Updates," according to the announcement.
It's unclear if organizations using WSUS with the Windows 10 previews will have to set Windows 10 "telemetry" data collection to "Enhanced" or "Full" to get the previews. Those telemetry settings are a requirement, though, if organizations are using Windows Update for Business with Windows 10 previews, as described in this Microsoft document. Windows Update for Business is a bunch of settings and services associated with Group Policy that let organizations manage Windows 10 updates.
Insider Program and QA Testing
The Windows Insider Program essentially became one of Microsoft's main testing approaches for Windows 10 releases after the company reportedly eliminated some internal QA testing staff, as affirmed by reports from Bloomberg and veteran Microsoft reporter Mary Jo Foley. However, company officials have long complained about needing more business-user testing data to validate its Windows 10 software releases. Possibly, Microsoft is making that sort of Windows Insider Program onboarding easier now for organizations with the new WSUS options.
Issues with the quality of Windows 10 releases have been a recurring theme. Microsoft now publishes a "Known Issues and Notifications" page for each channel release of Windows 10, which includes information about why a feature update might get blocked.
An explanation about why Windows 10 releases have so many problems was offered by Jerry Berg, a 15-year Microsoft veteran who had worked as a senior software developer on the Windows platform, but was laid off by Microsoft, according to his YouTube bio. Berg confirmed the loss of testing personnel at Microsoft as an issue, but he also indicated that Microsoft isn't getting full telemetry information to address Windows 10's problems, which contributes to the continuing quality issues. Berg's positions are summarized in this Born's Tech and Windows World post.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.