United States | Windows Autopatch – Automated Windows Updates Service by Microsoft

Nick Thomas - 03.07.202320230703

Windows Autopatch – Automated Windows Updates Service by Microsoft

United States | Windows Autopatch – Automated Windows Updates Service by Microsoft

Overview

There have been many products from Microsoft over the years that assisted with update management such as Windows Update, Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and Windows Update for Business.  

I recently migrated a client to Microsoft 365 including Intune for all of their management and they were concerned how they were going to manage their updates using a new product as it was something else to learn. Luckily Microsoft have Windows Autopatch which helped us out greatly! 

Windows Autopatch is a cloud managed service, provided by Microsoft that automates Windows Updates. This includes Windows 10 and 11, Microsoft Edge, Microsoft 365 Apps for enterprise and Microsoft Teams. 

We all know patching is quite a mundane, and time-consuming task that IT admins must constantly keep on top of if they want to keep their environment secure. Windows Autopatch can help alleviate this by managing lots of the work for you, delivering updates to registered devices, therefore freeing up time and minimizing disruption to end users. 

Security is a big talking point right now and by keeping software up to date, there are fewer threats and vulnerabilities to the devices on your network.  

Key highlights of Windows Autopatch include: 

  • Enhancing security: By keeping software current, Windows Autopatch reduces vulnerabilities and threats to devices. 
  • Boosting productivity: Users gain access to the latest tools and features, enabling them to enhance collaboration and creation. 
  • Streamlining IT admin tasks: By automating routine endpoint updates, Windows Autopatch allows IT professionals to focus on value-adding activities. 
  • Cloud-based updates: Organizations can reduce their investment in on-premises hardware as updates are delivered from the cloud. 
  • Minimizing disruptions: Windows Autopatch adopts a sequential deployment approach via deployment rings and considers reliability and compatibility signals to minimize disruptions caused by updates.

Prerequisites

  • Windows Autopatch is part of the enterprise licensing packages (Windows 10/11 Enterprise E3 or higher), so if you have these licenses then you already have this service. You can find more information on licensing here: https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/deployment/windows-autopatch/prepare/windows-autopatch-prerequisites#more-about-licenses  
  • Your user accounts must either be synched from on-premises Active Directory to Azure Active Directory or Azure Active Directory must be the source of authority for all your user accounts. 
  • Last of all, as this is an Intune service, the devices must be enrolled into Intune and Intune must be the MDM authority. 

Rings

The deployment of updates are delivered using rings in the standard Microsoft fashion. Windows Autopatch can automatically detect variations in an environment and create the four rings dynamically. 

Deployment Rings

United States | Windows Autopatch – Automated Windows Updates Service by Microsoft

While the diagram above is useful for understanding the relationships of testing rings, the below shows the difference in ring population size. The ‘test ring’ contains a minimum number of representative devices. The ‘first’ ring contains around 1% of all devices being managed. The ‘fast’ ring contains about 9% of devices, and the rest are assigned to the ‘broad’ ring. All the devices can be manually moved from one group to another.

Ring Groups

United States | Windows Autopatch – Automated Windows Updates Service by Microsoft

What is the difference between Windows Update for Business and Windows Autopatch?

I’ve put together a comparison list of some topics of interest. 

Update Management Approach: 

  • Windows Update for Business: It provides IT administrators with tools to manage the deployment and timing of updates. Administrators can create deployment rings, specify maintenance windows, and control the distribution of updates. 
  • Windows Autopatch: It is a service that removes the need for organizations to plan and operate the update process. Windows Autopatch shifts the burden of update management from the IT department to Microsoft. It utilizes Windows Update for Business and other service components to update devices, whilst still allowing control. 

Operational Responsibility: 

  • Windows Update for Business: IT administrators are responsible for planning and implementing update deployment strategies and managing the update process within their organization. 
  • Windows Autopatch: The update process is managed by Microsoft. It moves the responsibility of update planning and operation from the IT department to Microsoft, reducing the operational burden on organizations. 

Device Enrolment: 

  • Windows Update for Business: Organizations can enrol their devices into Windows Update for Business to gain additional control over the update process. 
  • Windows Autopatch: Devices are enrolled in Windows Autopatch, which leverages Windows Update for Business and other service components. Autopatch handles the update process, and individual device-level control is not supported. 

Support for Cloud PCs: 

  • Windows Update for Business: It supports Cloud PCs, allowing administrators to manage updates for virtual desktops. 
  • Windows Autopatch: It supports Cloud PCs and provides the same update management capabilities for virtual desktops as it does for physical devices. 

Feature Updates: 

  • Windows Update for Business: Administrators can control the deployment of feature updates, specifying the timing and pace of rollout within their organization. 
  • Windows Autopatch: Autopatch manages all aspects of feature update deployment, including the rollout process from test rings to broad rings. The decision of when to move to the next ring is handled by Autopatch and is not customer configurable, although rings can be delayed if an issue occurs. 

Deployment Flexibility: 

  • Windows Update for Business: It offers more flexibility in terms of customization and control over update deployment strategies, allowing organizations to define their own deployment rings and maintenance windows. 
  • Windows Autopatch: It simplifies the update process by removing the need for complex customization. Autopatch provides a streamlined and automated approach to update management. 

In summary, while Windows Update for Business provides more customization options and control, Windows Autopatch offers a simplified and automated approach to update management, reducing the operational burden on organizations. 

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT

Autopatch Groups 

Microsoft is actively developing Autopatch Groups, a feature that helps organizations manage updates in a way that aligns with their organizational structures and deployment cadences.  

Autopatch Groups is designed to be a logical container that groups Azure AD groups and software update policies, providing flexibility in the number of deployment rings, device assignment to rings, and choice of deployment cadence.  

This development aims to enable organizations to efficiently manage updates with no additional cost or unplanned disruptions, as Microsoft takes on the responsibility of managing update processes on their behalf.

Summary

In conclusion, Windows Autopatch is a game-changer for IT admins seeking to streamline update management while enhancing security and productivity. With its cloud-based approach, automated processes, and Microsoft’s commitment to future development, this service offers a simplified and efficient solution for organizations of all sizes. Stay up-to-date with the latest technologies and empower your team’s collaboration and creation with Windows Autopatch. 

For more in-depth information on Windows Autopatch and other related topics, check out our “Ultimate Guide to Intune” blog post. If you have any questions or need further assistance, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here to help you unlock the full potential of Windows Autopatch and transform your update management experience. 

THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUBMISSION!

United States | Windows Autopatch – Automated Windows Updates Service by Microsoft

The form was submitted successfully.

Join the Insentra Community with the Insentragram Newsletter

Hungry for more?

If you’re waiting for a sign, this is it.

We’re a certified amazing place to work, with an incredible team and fascinating projects – and we’re ready for you to join us! Go through our simple application process. Once you’re done, we will be in touch shortly!

Who is Insentra?

Imagine a business which exists to help IT Partners & Vendors grow and thrive.

Insentra is a 100% channel business. This means we provide a range of Advisory, Professional and Managed IT services exclusively for and through our Partners.

Our #PartnerObsessed business model achieves powerful results for our Partners and their Clients with our crew’s deep expertise and specialised knowledge.

We love what we do and are driven by a relentless determination to deliver exceptional service excellence.

United States | Windows Autopatch – Automated Windows Updates Service by Microsoft

Insentra ISO 27001:2013 Certification

SYDNEY, WEDNESDAY 20TH APRIL 2022 – We are proud to announce that Insentra has achieved the  ISO 27001 Certification.