Release Management Strategy Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T

The windows 10 servicing release management started with Current Branch (CB) and Current Branch Business (CBB) cycles. Microsoft renamed the Windows servicing channels after the 1703 release for broad deployment on July 27, 2017.

Semi-Annual Channel (Targeted) “SAC-T” and Semi-Annual Channel (SAC) are the new names for CB and CBB, respectively. More details about Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T deployment.

Two Related posts on Windows 10 Servicing Topic

Windows 10 1709 Semi-Annual CBB Ready for Broad Deployment and details about the release date of Windows 10 1709 CBB version media
Main differences between Difference Between Content of Windows 10 SAC-T (CB) and SAC (CBB) ISO Files

Patch My PC

Content of this post

  • Differences Between SAC-T and SAC (CB and CBB)
  • Pre Windows 10 Servicing Processes
  • Post-Windows 10 SAC-T Release Processes
  • Post Windows 10 SAC Release Processes

What are SAC-T and SAC (CB and CBB)?

First of all, SAC-T and SAC are new terms for CB and CBB. SAC-T is the first production release cycle of Windows 10 for the Enterprise and Education customers. And SAC-T is also the first production release cycle for Windows 10 consumers.

You can have more details about my views on the Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T deployment in the remaining part of this post.

SAC is the second and FINAL release cycle of Windows 10 for enterprise and education customers. Indirectly Microsoft call SAC release process a “Business Ready” release for broad deployments. 

Full availability is the final phase of Microsoft’s Windows 10 roll-out process. More details are available about Microsoft’s fully available announcement.

Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T
Release Management Strategy Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T 1

Pre Windows 10 Servicing Processes?

Most of the release management process we followed for Windows 7 is irrelevant for Windows 10 servicing. Why?

The Windows 10 world is moving very quickly using agile/scrum methods. As an IT admin, it’s your responsibility to lead the organization correctly.

STEP 1 

Arrange meetings with 3rd party application vendors and understand their strategy or plan to cater to Windows 10 servicing.

Get commitment from vendors on the delivery or support of their products with the new Windows 10 release cycle. This is an essential step in Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T release management strategy.

For example:- If you use Symantec/McAfee as your endpoint protection software, then try to arrange meetings and understand their commitments and product roadmap to seal your Windows serving plans.

We should follow a similar strategic approach for VPNs and other products within your organization.

STEP 2

Start regular interaction with in-house application (LOB) developers. This meeting makes sure that they understand the need for agile/scrum methodology in their product development cycle. This will help them to get aligned with Windows 10 servicing.

STEP 3

Collect the “REAL” pilot (test) users and early adopters’ details from each department / op-co within your organization. This is the best time to start re-validating your existing list of pilot users within your organization.

STEP 4

We need to build a strategy within your organization to start the systematic way of the validation process. The strategic approach is to create internal update rings. This will help to validate internal applications for each department inside the organization.

Create internal rings (using AAD Group or SCCM Collection) with those lists of pilot users.

Remove term: Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T
Release Management Strategy Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T 2

STEP 5

Keep an eye on the feature roadmap of Windows 10 with Windows Insiders build. This will help to understand new features available in the next Windows 10 SAC-T release.

Also, try to make a list of new features you want to implement for your organization.

Post Windows 10 SAC-T Release Processes?

Following is the high-level process from my experience. You can have a more detailed presentation on release management for Windows servicing.

I can’t cover all the details in this post. But following are the core steps of the release management process for Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T.

STEP 1

Day 1Download the latest Windows 10 ISO from Microsoft and install it on a few physical machines. Windows 10 SAC-T release is the phase where enterprise Developers and IT admins can start testing the applications used within their enterprise. Start the “validation” process within your industry and begin testing Line of Business applications.

STEP 2

Week 1– If you use SCCM/MDT to build or provision Windows 10 machines, start creating a new golden image process after the SAC-T release.

Let us wait for SAC-T (CBB) announcement from Microsoft before beginning the OS image build process within an organization.

But I don’t think that was the correct strategy. The more explicit approach of Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T are available in the following part of the post.

Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T
Release Management Strategy Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T 3

I think this is what Michael Niehaus meant to us through Twitter while replying to one of my questions. “The challenge is that if everyone sits and waits, we see no issues, so we assume “good to go.

” We need organizations to start piloting right away to provide the feedback that eventually leads to that “ready for broad deployment” note.”

STEP 3

Week 2/3 -Start the pilot deployment in the pre-production and production environment. Test the Windows 10 upgrade process via SCCM (Windows 10 servicing) or Intune (Windows 10 update rings) management solution.

This Windows 10 upgrade process will be done via Software Update or Software Update for the Business channel.

STEP 4

Month 1 – Start deploying Windows 10 custom OS image to pilot users. And start testing your custom image solution using SCCM Task Sequence with IT and business users.

Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T
Release Management Strategy Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T 4

STEP 5

Month 2 – When you are finished with all the validation of applications, start deploying the latest version of Windows 10 broadly within the organization. This is what I can make out from Michael’s Twitter.

“Exactly right, deploy broadly as soon as you’re ready (done validating). If it’s good enough for you, it’s good enough for you :-)” and “I’ve talked to many companies that finish their validation in 1-2 months (straight-forward app portfolios, using built-in security features).

They would want to wait – it took a lot of effort to convince them that there’s no need.”

Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T
Release Management Strategy Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T 5

Post Windows 10 SAC Release Processes?

We don’t need to wait for Microsoft’s broad deployment announcement to start deploying broadly within our organization. If we have a well-defined validation process and are done with validation, there is no need to wait for the FINAL release announcement (SAC) of Windows 10 “Fully Available”.

I have seen organizations waiting for Microsoft’s “Fully Available” announcement to start broader deployments. As I mentioned on Twitter, we don’t waste our 4 monthly periods (out of 18 months) waiting for Microsoft to announce wide deployment!

Update on 17th Nov 2021 -  Microsoft announced that Microsoft removed the semi-annual channel update for Windows 10 on Nov 16, 2021. There will only be one feature update per year for Windows 10.
Update on 17th Nov 2021 – Microsoft announced that Microsoft removed the semi-annual channel update for Windows 10 on Nov 16, 2021. There will only be one feature update per year for Windows 10.

As Michael mentioned on Twitter, the whole SAC-T vs. SAC (CB vs. CBB) thing is over-emphasized. So, the strategic approach for Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T deployment should be to start the validation from SAC-T (CB) version release.

All the best for Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T deployments!

Author

Anoop is Microsoft MVP! He is a Solution Architect in enterprise client management with more than 20 years of experience (calculation done in 2021) in IT. He is Blogger, Speaker, and Local User Group HTMD Community leader. His main focus is on Device Management technologies like SCCM 2012, Current Branch, and Intune. He writes about ConfigMgr, Windows 11, Windows 10, Azure AD, Microsoft Intune, Windows 365, AVD, etc……………

5 thoughts on “Release Management Strategy Windows 10 Semi-Annual Channel and SAC-T”

  1. This is what you wrote:

    First of all SAC-T and SAC are new terms for CB and CBB. SAC-T is the FIRST production release cycle of Windows 10 for the Enterprise and Education customers. And SAC-T is the release cycle for Windows 10 consumers.

    Reply

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