Microsoft may offer some Windows 10 patch notes to enterprises

Windows patch

The company is mulling how to tell businesses about rapid-fire changes to the new OS

IT administrators may get more information than originally planned about Windows 10 patches, as Microsoft ponders how much to tell business customers about modifications to the new OS.

"We've heard that feedback from enterprise customers so we're actively working on how we provide them with information about what's changing and what new capabilities and new value they're getting," Jim Alkove, a vice president in the Windows group, said during a press briefing. 

It's a change in tone for the company, which previously said that it wouldn't provide detailed information about most Windows 10 patches. That original plan was bad news for IT managers and users who want to know what an update does before they install it. This is more of an issue now that Microsoft is supposed to release more frequent updates over the lifetime of Windows 10, as part of its "Windows as a service" plans, than it did for previous editions of Windows.

The policy of not offering detailed patch notes has drawn criticism from tech die-hards, especially after some early patches caused problems.

Still, Microsoft's new OS has still drawn massive interest from enterprise IT administrators. About 1.5 million computers are running Windows 10 Enterprise less than a month after Microsoft made the OS available for installation, according to Alkove, Microsoft's corporate VP for enterprise and security in the Windows and Devices group. 

Stella Chernyak, the senior director of product marketing for Windows Commercial, called that level of rapid adoption "unprecedented" for a new version of Windows.

While Microsoft doesn't have detailed information about the number of computers in each business running Windows 10 Enterprise, Chernyak argued that it points to major companies running significant pilots of Windows 10.

"We're very early in the process, and we don't have the breakdown, but that number talks about hundreds of PCs being piloted across most of our major customers," she said.

In addition, Chernyak said that Microsoft will soon release a white paper for enterprises about managing updates through Windows Update for Business, the system IT managers can use to control how and when people in their companies receive new patches. Microsoft is still in the process of developing those capabilities, and plans to roll them out in future builds made available to its Enterprise Insider Program before making them publicly available later this year.

Chernyak and Alkove said that Microsoft is new to providing Windows in this way, with rapid-fire patches that not only bring security fixes but can also provide new features to the OS. The company is actively soliciting feedback from its customers, and Alkove said that Microsoft will make changes to help Windows 10 better mesh with their needs.

Getting businesses to use Windows 10 is hugely important for the company, especially since licensing software to enterprises is a key component of Microsoft's total revenue. In addition, Microsoft plans to get 1 billion devices running Windows 10 within three years, and broad adoption from enterprises will be necessary to make that a reality. Still, it will likely be a while before companies complete their rollouts of Windows 10 -- analysts expect that it will take between 12 and 18 months before many of them make the jump and others could be further behind that.

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