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Reports: Windows 10 'Redstone' Update Coming in Second Half of 2016

Microsoft is planning an update to Windows 10, code-named "Redstone," to be released in two stages over the second half of 2016, according to media reports on Tuesday.

Neowin was the first to report on the update (which is thought to derive its name from Microsoft's "Minecraft" game) in an article citing two unnamed "internal sources." Veteran reporter Mary Jo Foley, who tracks Microsoft's code names, confirmed the Redstone name in a ZDNet article also citing unnamed sources.

To date, Microsoft has not talked about Redstone at all, so it's still at the rumor stage.

Microsoft has previously indicated that it plans to release Windows 10 (previously code-named "Threshold") this summer. Foley's sources told her that this initial Windows 10 release will be followed by a "minor update," which is expected to arrive this fall.

Redstone will have a similar release cycle happening in 2016, according to Foley. There will be a summer release, followed by a minor update in the fall (see table).

Windows 10 Summer Release Fall Update
"Threshold" 2015 2015
"Redstone" 2016 2016
Expected release cycles for Windows 10 operating system releases, code-named "Threshold" and "Redstone." (Source: April 7 report by Mary Jo Foley.)

Foley explained that Microsoft is planning bigger initial releases of Windows 10 to address "things like Xbox Surface Hub, Windows Phone and HoloLens," which require deeper OS core work by Microsoft. In addition, Redstone will contain those features that can't make this year's Windows 10 release schedule, she added.

For its part, Microsoft has indicated that it is moving more toward delivering Windows 10 as a service, with the idea of delivering more frequent updates, including adding new features to the OS. In particular, Microsoft's new Spartan browser in Windows 10, which will be available as a default browser alongside Internet Explorer, will be automatically updated. Microsoft has suggested previously that Spartan updates would coincide with the delivery of Windows 10 updates.

The Windows 10 as a service idea seems aimed mostly at consumer users of the OS, who will be offered free updates from Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1. It's expected that consumers will get new OS features delivered automatically with no option to defer them, although Microsoft hasn't said so definitively.

For organizations, Microsoft has previously described two new update models for Windows 10. Typically, organizations with complex software environments to maintain can't tolerate quick OS updates, so Microsoft has proposed two optional plans. One update plan is called "long-term servicing branches." It's for organizations with "mission-critical" workloads that need to defer updates over Microsoft's 10-year product lifecycle for Windows 10. The second update plan, called "current branch for business servicing," delivers security updates automatically but it permits delays on receiving new OS features.

Microsoft's Windows 10 as a service plans have remained somewhat vague so far. It's possible that Microsoft plans to charge organizations extra to get into a slower update cycle plan. In any case, organizations using Enterprise editions of earlier Windows releases won't qualify for the free update to Windows 10, as Microsoft has previously indicated.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.