Microsoft to change Windows 10 release terminology

Martin Brinkmann
May 6, 2017
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

In an effort to streamline release terminology of Windows 10 and Office 365, Microsoft plans to replace the current terms "Current Branch" and "Current Branch for Business" with "Semi-Annual Channel (Pilot)" and "Semi-Annual Channel (Broad).

Current Branch (CB) is the servicing option that is offered to the majority of windows installations by default. Pro, Enterprise and Education systems may be switched over to the Current Branch for Business (CBB) servicing option, and there is also a specialized Long-Term Servicing Branch servicing option available for the Enterprise.

The main difference between CB and CBB is that Current Branch devices will get feature updates as soon as they are made available, and Current Branch for Business systems  after four months of general availability.

The Windows 10 Anniversary Update for instance was released on August 2, 2016 to Current Branch devices, and on November 29, 2016 to Current Branch for Business devices.

Semi-Annual Channel

Servicing option Version OS build Availability date Latest revision date
Semi-Annual Channel Pilot 1709 September 2017
Current Branch (CB) 1703 15063.25 04/11/17 04/25/17
Current Branch (CB) 1607 14393.11 08/02/16 04/11/17
Current Branch (CB) 1511 10586.87 11/12/15 04/11/17
Current Branch (CB) 1507 (RTM) 10240.17 07/29/15 04/11/17
Semi-Annual Channel Broad 1709 January 2018
Current Branch for Business (CBB) 1607 14393.11 11/29/16 04/11/17
Current Branch for Business (CBB) 1511 10586.87 04/08/16 04/11/17
Current Branch for Business (CBB) 1507 (RTM) 10240.17 07/29/15 04/11/17
Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) 1607 14393.11 08/02/16 04/11/17
Long-Term Servicing Branch (LTSB) 1507 (RTM) 10240.17 07/29/15 04/11/17

Microsoft plans to change the terminology with the release of the next feature update for Windows 10. The release, which flies under the Redstone 3 codename currently, will be out in September 2017. Microsoft won't use CB or CBB anymore when it comes to the release, but use Semi-Annual Channel (Pilot)" and "Semi-Annual Channel (Broad) instead from that point onward.

The timeline would look like the following then:

  1. Windows 10 version 1709 gets released in September 2017. It becomes the first Semi-Annual Channel (Pilot).
  2. About four months later, version 1709 is declared Semi-Annual Channel (Broad).
  3. 18 months after the initial release, version 1709 is no longer supported.

You may have noticed that the grace period that is in effect currently is gone. This means that there is no 60 day period that is added to the 18 months before support runs out.

Why the change?

Microsoft makes the change to sync Office 365 and Windows 10 release terminology. The company announced in April 2016 on the official Office Support website and the Office blog that it will change the terminology:

  • Current Channel becomes Monthly Channel
  • First Release for Deferred Channel becomes Semi-Annual Channel (Pilot)
  • Deferred Channel becomes Semi-Annual Channel (Broad).

Office 365 ProPlus will get two updates a year just like Windows 10, and they will be released in sync with Windows 10's releases. Support for a particular release is guaranteed for 18 months, which is identical to how support is handled for Windows 10 releases. (via Deskmodder)

Closing Words

It is always confusing at first when companies change the terminology of systems or services, but this change will make it easier in the long run because it syncs the Office 365 ProPlus terminology with that of Windows 10.

The cutting of the "grace period" may be disliked by some administrators though, as it means that they have 60 days less for upgrades (still 18 months).

Now You: Confusing, or does the change make sense?

Article Name
Microsoft to change Windows 10 release terminology
Microsoft plans to change the release terminology that it uses to describe Windows 10 and Office 365 servicing options in September 2017.
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  1. Adrian (RO) said on August 18, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    What confuse me is that I do not understand from any article I read about this new orientation if the Windows 10 and Office 365 (on-premise version) will continue to have monthly updates like all Microsoft products have now.

    Any idea about this?

  2. Bruce Roberts said on June 12, 2017 at 3:11 pm

    For 1709 in the table, you have Broad as Sept 2017 and Pilot as Jan 2018. But Pilot comes before Broad, so just the words Broad and Pilot need to be swapped.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 12, 2017 at 3:24 pm

      Bruce, now I get it. Thanks, and corrected.

  3. Bruce Roberts said on June 12, 2017 at 2:51 pm

    Table titles Broad and Pilot in your table should be reversed; CB=Pilot, CBB=Broad.

  4. hirobo said on May 7, 2017 at 1:04 am

    Has Microsoft finally realized no sane person uses Windows 10, unless it came pre-installed on say a $100 disposable dual OS tablet from eBay/Amazon, etc.? (No sane person runs Windows 10 on a machine worth more than a few hundred bucks)

  5. Peter (NL) said on May 6, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    Pffff, complicated for me.
    Version 1703 is thus already Current Branch (CB), but version 1709 will start as a ‘Pilot’ ?
    I’d expect to see this version 1709 in September 2017 as a stable release, so why does Microsoft mention this a pilot ?

    Thank you for your update on this topic, Martin.


    1. dark said on May 7, 2017 at 12:08 am

      Test Pilot more like…

  6. Timi said on May 6, 2017 at 6:51 pm

    Well,that’s a doozy,I mean it worked fine with service packs,you had SP1,SP2 and so on,no the marketing hipster had to have trendy names,they first started with Windows 8,then Windows 8.1…wait that’s no good lets confuse users even more lets call the new Windows 8,Windows 8.1 update1 and now this crap,what ever,but my opinion is that branding really matters,what do I know I’m not a marketing guy,end of ramble!

  7. AnorKnee Merce said on May 6, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    This signals M$’s commitment to release new Win 10 Versions or feature updates or upgrades twice a year or every 6 months = an EOL of 18 months for each new Win 10 Versions, starting with Version 1703 onward. Why.?

    After nearly 2 years of aggressive pushing by M$, about 50% of Windows users are still on Win 7. This means many corporations who have bought Win 7 Ent Volume Licenses are refusing to upgrade to Win 10 Ent VL and intend to do so until EOL in 2020 = M$ could not make more money$ from Win 10 Ent VL.

    In comparison, many corporations who have leased Win 7 Ent VL would have already upgraded to and leased/subscribed Win 10 Ent E3 or E5 VL since they were required to buy Software Assurance, which “insure” “free” upgrades within 3 years.

    EOL for Win 7 in Jan 2020 is only about 2+1/2 years away. By then, affected corporations who have bought Win 7 Ent VL will be faced with 4 stark and unpleasant choices; …
    #1. buy new Win 10 Ent E3 VL from M$ every 18 months(= EOL).
    #2. lease/subscribe Win 10 Ent E3 or E5 VL(= no EOL), like Office 365 subscriptions.
    #3. buy new Win 10 Ent E5 VL LTSB (EOL = 10 years, like for Win 7 Ent VL) which cost double that of Ent E3.
    #4. move to Linux, eg subscribe to Red Hat Linux Ent.

    M$ want these corporations to lease/subscribe Win 10 Ent VL by Jan 2020, ie choice #2 = “Windows as a Service”. I think many of these corporations, esp large and rich ones, will choose #3, instead of #2, and it would be foolish of them to choose #1. It will be hard for them to choose #4.

    1. dark said on May 7, 2017 at 12:07 am

      Companies are better of switching to Linux like CentOS, OpenSUSE, Ubuntu Enterprise or Red Hat Linux unless they don’t care about security and don’t mind M$ telemetry/spying and keylogging everything.

  8. Glenn Turner said on May 6, 2017 at 5:36 pm

    For 1709, you have January 2017, which appears to be a typo.

    1709 becomes broad in Jan 2018.

  9. LD said on May 6, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Microsoft has some free time to fill. Since the names are so long, a short form for each will be soon be adopted.

    MC, SAC pilot and SAC broad.
    maybe just monthlies, pilot and broad. Women may find this a bit off-putting.

  10. zund said on May 6, 2017 at 12:47 pm

    semi-useful nomenclature.

  11. Yuliya said on May 6, 2017 at 11:10 am

    I initially thought they’d drop the cheesy names like “Creator’s update”. Changes like this are awful imo and create confusion. Now a lot of articles already refer to CB and CBB, many policies will still use these terms as well. A complete hodge podge. Oh well, yet another reason to use LTSB, I guess..

  12. John said on May 6, 2017 at 9:51 am

    Trust Microsoft to come up with more gobbledygook. It is almost as bad as “Monthly Quality Rollup” and “Security Monthly Quality Rollup”.

    “Pilot” reinforces the view that Current Branchers are essentially beta testers.

    1. seeprime said on May 6, 2017 at 12:23 pm

      It does seem that Microsoft is taking reasonably understandable names and applying additional syllable,convoluted names again. This always was annoying with the old MS. Now the new MS is moving to it’s own version of BS naming conventions. “Current Branch” is very clear. “Semi-Annual Channel (Pilot)” is a stupid name for the same thing..

  13. Corky said on May 6, 2017 at 9:19 am

    For me this is confusing but then again i lost interest in Microsoft when they repeatedly threw customers they once courted under successive buses.

  14. beemeup4 said on May 6, 2017 at 8:09 am

    Am I the only one who misses Service Packs? Or the days when MS actually tested releases, you know, back when things were sane?

    1. Decent60 said on May 7, 2017 at 8:36 pm

      If you haven’t noticed, the growing trend with things (except for good companies) is to let the consumers be the testers and maybe fix the bugs they find within a few months. This has been more dominant in video games lately than software companies but it still holds the same.

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