Microsoft today said its latest Windows 10 upgrade, the "Creators Update," is suitable for broad deployment by businesses, marking an important milestone for the edition and simultaneously setting its retirement in 14 months.
The move also begins a countdown clock on support for the late-2015 version of Windows 10, which will be struck from the rolls in October.
"Windows 10 1703 is ready for that broad deployment, based on feedback that we've received from organizations, ISVs, partners, OEMs, and consumers that have already done it," said Michael Niehaus, a director of product marketing, in a post to the company's TechNet site, a resource for IT professionals. Niehaus referred to the Creators Update by its numerical label, 1703, which is in Microsoft's yymm format.
Microsoft first offered 1703 on April 5, but has limited automatic delivery to consumers since.
Previous versions of Windows 10 were promoted to the "Current Branch for Business" (CBB) -- one of three release "tracks" the company maintained -- when they were fit for business use. But Microsoft has discarded CBB, as well as its consumer-grade accomplice, "Current Branch" (CB). In April, the company said it would synchronize Windows 10's terminology with what it had already settled on for Office 365, and squeeze CBB and CB into a single label, "Semi-Annual Channel" (SAC).
Because there is just one SAC -- unlike earlier reports, which had speculated that the channel would be separated into "Pilot" and "Broad" subsections to denote deployment purposes -- Microsoft will no longer "promote" a version, like 1703, to another track.
It will, however, continue to declare the acceptable-for-business milepost for each edition.
To celebrate 1703's new status, Microsoft will update the edition's installation packages and .iso disk image files by integrating the July 11 cumulative update, the most recent set of security fixes. The installation packages and disk images will be refreshed on Windows Update, Windows Update for Business, WSUS (Windows Server Update Services), the Volume License Servicing Center and MSDN (Microsoft Developers Network), said Niehaus.
Update and patch platforms, including Microsoft's System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), can, of course, roll out 1703 to PCs at IT's discretion.
With 1703 now ready for broad deployment in enterprise, Microsoft also set the end of support for the first Windows 10 upgrade, dubbed 1511 to mark its November 2015 launch: 1511, which does not have a catchy alternative name, will be retired on Oct. 10, that month's Patch Tuesday. After that date, Microsoft will refuse to provide security updates and bug fixes to devices running the edition.
Although Microsoft has since set 18 months as the length of support for each edition, the company originally had planned on just 12. Due to multiple factors, including just one upgrade in all of last year, 1511 will end up being supported for 23 months, or nearly two years.
Microsoft also listed tentative end-of-support dates for 1607 (Anniversary Update) and 1703 (Creators Update) at March 2018 and September 2018, respectively, or approximately 18 months after each edition's debut.
The likely end-of-support dates: March 13 and September 11, those months' Patch Tuesdays.