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Windows 10 Fall Creators Update Reaches 'Full Availability'

The "semiannual channel" version of Windows 10 update 1709, otherwise known as the "Fall Creators Update," is now in the "full availability" stage.

"Full availability is the final phase of our rollout process," explained John Cable, director of program management for Windows servicing and delivery, in the announcement on Thursday. Microsoft used this "full availability" phrasing once before with Windows 10 update 1703 back in July, so it seems to be sticking with that nomenclature.

Essentially, this release is one that Microsoft deems production-ready for organizations. It's ready for deployment after testing with end users. Such releases are otherwise known as the semiannual channel, although at press time the semiannual channel release wasn't listed in Microsoft's Windows 10 history page.

Consumer users of Windows 10 likely already got this update, which was first released as a preview -- or "semiannual channel (targeted)" release -- back on Oct. 17, 2017. Windows 10 Home edition users can just delay Windows 10 updates for a short while, but they can't block them entirely without turning off the Windows Update service (which is thought to be a bad idea, security-wise).

Organizations, on the other hand, also are compelled to keep Windows 10 updated in accordance with Microsoft's "Windows as a service" model. For organizations, each Windows 10 update (called "channel" releases now, and formerly known as "branch" releases) is supported for 18 months maximum. Updates will stop arriving for the unsupported Windows 10 implementations, so that's perhaps a compelling factor for keeping the OS updated and monitoring when channel releases arrive.

Organizations now have access to the production-ready release of Windows 10 update 1709, but they'll still have to wait a few days if they want the ISO installation software from Microsoft, which is typically used for new PC installs. The ISOs or "refreshed media" will arrive on Jan. 22, Microsoft's announcement indicated.

"Refreshed media will be published to Windows Update, Windows Update for Business, WSUS [Windows Server Update Services], and VLSC [Volume Licensing Service Center] starting the week of January 22, 2018," the announcement indicated.

In October, Microsoft advised IT pros that Windows 10 ISOs now arrive as a single release for Pro, Enterprise and Education editions. IT pros need to note the appropriate image index in task sequences to deploy the right edition. There's also just one package that shows up for WSUS users.

System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) users can use SCCM version 1706 to deploy the Fall Creators Update as it's backward-compatible with Windows 10 update 1709. However, Microsoft released SCCM version 1710 back in November, which supports the new Windows 10 comanagement feature for devices and also supports Windows 10 update 1709 deployments.

Unless an organization is using a management system of some sort to control the arrival of Windows 10 updates, they'll arrive on end users' devices automatically if the client devices are using the Windows Update service. The automatic arrival of Windows 10 update 1709 on such client devices is expected to happen after Jan. 18.

Here's how Microsoft's announcement described it:

To ensure devices in enterprise environments are running the most current and secure version of Windows with the latest security updates, any device on Windows 10 Enterprise edition or Windows 10 Pro edition that is configured to receive updates automatically from Windows Update will be automatically offered Windows 10, version 1709 after January 18, 2018.  This does not apply to long-term servicing editions.

The long-term servicing editions of Windows 10 don't get new OS features delivered automatically. Microsoft typically expects the long-term servicing branch Windows 10 versions to be used only with Internet of Things (IoT) devices or devices that can't tolerate frequent OS updates.

Microsoft's announcement touted the importance of keeping Windows 10 updated following the Meltdown and Spectre disclosures. However, it also noted that a firmware update to the CPU also will be necessary to keep devices protected.

"Because these vulnerabilities [Meltdown and Spectre] start at the processor level, however, having the latest Windows operating system (OS) updates is not sufficient to be fully protected; you will also need to install related firmware updates from your device manufacturer," Cable explained.

About the Author

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

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