Microsoft starts rolling out its first major update to Windows 10

Microsoft is starting to roll out its first major update to Windows 10, a set of updates and features known as the 'November update,' and codenamed 'Threshold 2.'
Written by Mary Jo Foley, Senior Contributing Editor

Microsoft begins rolling out today, November 12, its first major update to Windows 10 -- the set of features officially called the "November Update," and codenamed "Threshold 2."

The update, Build 10586 (also known as Version 1511, for November 2015) is the test build for PCs and tablets which Microsoft released to its Windows Insider testers last week. It will be available to existing Windows 10 users as a full update (not a Cumulative Update, as originally rumored) via Windows Update starting today. It also will be available as of today to Windows 7 and 8.1 customers who have not yet upgraded to the RTM version of Windows 10 that Microsoft released in late July.

Update: The ISOs of the November update build of Windows 10 are also available on MSDN as of November 12.

Update 2: A Microsoft spokesperson said the ISOs would be available to volume licensees on the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) within a week from today.

The November update includes a number of updates to Cortana, Microsoft's Edge browser, and other Windows 10 interface elements. It also includes support for the Windows 10 Store for Business and the bulk of the management pieces required by business users who may want to take advantage of Microsoft's Windows Update for Business service.

The November update does not include support for extensions to Microsoft's Edge browser, nor support for Enterprise Data Protection, a promised data-leak-prevention technology for Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise and Education users. The November update also enables Windows 10 Enterprise users whose PCs are on the Long Term Servicing Branch to completely turn off the telemetry-gathering technology in Windows 10, though Microsoft officials note that doing so means the operating system will basically be no longer connected to the cloud.

Microsoft has been updating and refreshing Windows 10 on a regular basis with Cumulative Updates and other security patches and fixes since July 29. But today's update is the first of the bundles of new features that the company plans to dole out to Windows 10 users every four to six months or so.

As of today's "milestone," Microsoft "can recommend organizations of all sizes start their Windows 10 deployments," said Terry Myerson, Executive Vice President of Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group during a phone interview I had with him earlier this week.

Currently, of the 110 million active Windows 10 devices, 12 million of these are business PCs now running Windows 10. Microsoft's goal is to get even more businesses to move from Windows 7 (as well as XP, Vista and Windows 8) to Windows 10 over the next year-plus.

While some business users will care about new November update features like tab previews in Edge and inking in Cortana, they'll likely be more interested in some of the enterprise features that are new with this release, like the new Business Store and more of the Windows Update for Business pieces.

With the November update, Windows Update for Business now allows IT admins to set internal rings for their users, enabling them to automatically set timetables for when those users will get new feature updates. Mobile-device management for Windows 10 devices, apps and data, which includes integration with System Center Configuration Manager and WSUS, is part of today's release, as well.

On the Enterprise Data Protection (EDP) front, Microsoft is working to try to get Windows Insiders a preview of that technology before the end of calendar 2015, Myerson said. But EDP won't be generally available to all Windows 10 users until next year. (This is the same timetable that the extensions technology for Windows 10's Edge browser is on. The hope is to get it to Insiders for preview before the end of calendar 2015 and to deliver it generally in 2016.)

As of today, Microsoft now is running the same Windows 10 core on PCs, tablets, its Xbox One gaming console and IoT devices. Microsoft is still expected to deliver Windows 10 Mobile, its Windows 10 release for Windows Phones and small ARM- and Intel-based tablets, in the coming weeks.

Officials have said they will deliver new Windows 10 phones running Windows 10 Mobile (likely also Build 10586, a k a Threshold 2) starting in November and will begin rolling out Windows 10 Mobile to existing Windows Phone users starting in December.

The next major update to Windows 10 is codenamed "Redstone 1." Microsoft Insiders will be starting to test Redstone 1 features in the coming weeks. My sources have said the target rollout date for Redstone 1 is June 2016. But in between now and then, expect more patches, fixes and Cumulative Updates for Windows 10, post the November update released today.

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