Windows 10: CBB ends, Upgrade install details/optimizations

[German]Microsoft is ending Current Branch for Business (CBB) in Windows 10. And Microsoft has recently detailed some internals about Feature Upgrade installs. This blog post sum up the relevant details.


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Current Branch for Business ends

Microsoft has used Current Branch (CB) and Current Branch for Business (CBB) within gab Windows 10 Pro/Enterprise. Admins has been able to defer Feature Upgrades in CBB for several months. In May 2017 Microsoft announced, that they are going to use new names (see).

  • Instead of using Current Branch for Business (CBB), Microsoft is using the term ‘Semi-Annual Channel’ .
  • And the Long Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) will be renamed to Long Term Servicing Channel (LTSC).

This has also been detailed within this Technet blog post from Michael Niehaus from July 17, 2017. More important are the support cycles for both channels.

  • Semi-Annual Channel: Those builds will be supported for 18 months after release. After this period, an upgrade to a newer build is mandatory.
  • Long-Term Servicing Channel: Microsoft plans to release all 2-3 years a new build (next is planned for 2019). Builds within this channel are supported for 10 years with security updates. 

More details may be read within this Technet post. This is the first important change, announced from Microsoft.

Detailing Windows 10 Feature Upgrade install

Microsoft has introduced a Mixer channel for Windows Insider, where developers from product group are introducing some technical details. The first web cast has been held at June 14, 2017 – unfortunately, the session will be streamed only in real time and can’t be viewed later. Within the first web cast Microsoft has given a few details what’s going on during Feature Upgrades. Russian leaker WZor has joined this web cast and published some slides. According to the following slide, a Windows 10 Feature Update (which is an Upgrade, exchanging the whole operating system) is installed in four phases. 

Phasen bei Feature Upgrades in Windows 10
(Source: WZor/Twitter)


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During these four phases, several task will be executed. The slides below shows, what’s going on within a phase (click the slide to zoom in an new browser tab).

Windows 10 Feature Upgrade Phase 1
Windows 10 Feature Upgrade Phase 1

(Source: WZor/Twitter)

  • Phase 1: The Feature Update will be downloaded from Update server. This phase will be terminated from a user clicking the Restart now button within Settings –> Update and Security.

Windows 10 Feature Upgrade Phase 2
(Source: WZor/Twitter)

  • Phase 2: After the first reboot, a Windows RE environment copies/move the Source WIM into the recovery partition, installs the new WIM, drivers and so on. The details are enlisted within the screen shot shown above. This phase has a progress bar value between 0 and 30%.

Windows 10 Feature Upgrade Phase 3(Source: WZor/Twitter)

  • Phase 3: After ending Windows RE, Windows 10 boots again into the First Boot Phase, where progress values between 31 and 74 % are shown. During this phase, the new OS is entered into BCD store and Sysprep will be executed. Also plugins will be migrated.

Windows 10 Feature Upgrade Phase 4(Source: WZor/Twitter)

  • Phase 4: After a second restart, progress values between 75 and 100 % will be shown. During this phase, user data will be copied, services are starting and other post OOBE tasks are executed. This phase ends with starting Windows desktop. 

These details may be helpful, if a Feature Upgrade install fails. WZor has posted more slides on Twitter.

Update optimization

Two semi annual Feature Updates are annoying many users, especially, because it takes a long time to install. During install, the system in not useable. If an install fails, users are wasting a lot of time waiting for install steps – and Windows Insiders are ‘enjoying’ this weekly. 

Microsoft has published recently some details for Windows Insider within Feedback hub about Feature Update installs. They say, the install process has been optimized. Now the following steps (see also the section above) are applied:

  • Online-Phase: Searching and downloading updates, backup settings and app in background. Also all new OS files are stored within Windows Image (Wim) process. Then Windows waits for reboot.
  • Offline-Phase: After reboot the update files are installed, drivers will be integrated and user data will be restored. Then the system reboots and the user is able to work again with Windows 10.

This shall reduce the ‘down time’ for users during Windows Feature Updates. Let’s wait, how good this will be at the end of the day (we will see it during Windows 10 Fall Creators Update release in September 2017). 

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Windows 10: Analyze upgrade errors
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Stop Windows from installing updates over and over again


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