Microsoft previews new Windows servicing APIs for enterprises


Microsoft last week launched a public preview of the APIs (application programming interfaces) that IT admins can call on to control Windows Update for Business Deployment Service, the company’s latest effort to push commercial customers to adopt cloud-only servicing for Windows 10.

“With today’s public preview release, you can use the Windows Update for Business deployment service directly through the Microsoft Graph API and associated SDKs, as well as Azure PowerShell,” David Mebane, principal program manager lead with the Windows servicing group, said in an April 28 post.

Although Microsoft trumpeted WUfB Deployment Service at its Ignite developers conference last month, Friday was the unveiling of any actual functionality. Nor were the APIs made available last week the story’s end, as Microsoft will continue to expand on the preview’s functionality over an as-yet-not-nailed-down timeline.

Out the gate, IT administrators can:

  • Approve and schedule feature upgrade deployments such as last fall’s 20H2. Admins can also instruct the service not to distribute an upgrade, useful for skipping one that’s available.
  • Stage deployments over a period of time by defining delivery date, desired feature upgrade, and number of machines affected.
  • Sidestep existing policies to immediately deploy a security update, say, when Microsoft issues an emergency fix for a vulnerability currently being widely exploited by attackers.

Customers with licenses to a number of Microsoft’s subscription plans can use the APIs immediately, according to Mebane, including:

  • Windows 10 Enterprise E3 or E5, or Windows 10 Education A3 or A5
  • Windows Virtual Desktop Access E3 or E5
  • Microsoft 365 Business Premium (a subscription that supports Windows 10 Pro)

IT pros, and app makers, too

The APIs Microsoft’s previewing for WUfB Deployment Service can be used by IT admins as well as application makers (notably, enterprise in-house development teams).

Although Microsoft’s existing tools — Microsoft Endpoint Manager’s Intune, for example — can access the APIs (for more information, start at this support document), Microsoft last week chose to highlight other avenues to access the APIs for WUfB Deployment Service. Specifically, Mebane touted Microsoft Graph Explorer and Postman, a web UI and development framework, respectively, for testing APIs. Both are best known as developer tools, but Microsoft promoted them as appropriate for IT admins’ initial interactions with the deployment service.

Microsoft

When logged into a Windows subscription tenant, admins can use Microsoft Graph Explorer to call on pre-set samples to manage Windows Update for Business Deployment Service.

In his post, Mebane outlined first steps for admins using Microsoft Graph Explorer and/or Postman, with additional information here and here. WUfB Deployment Service also supports the PowerShell command line-scripting tool.

Microsoft has not yet said when it will release WUfB Deployment Service from preview status or when it will offer a complete servicing solution via Intune. (Currently, the preview is focused on feature updates — which Computerworld insists on calling upgrades to differentiate them from the monthly bug and security updates.)

WUfB Deployment Service requires Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise 1709 or later running on devices joined to Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) or to a hybrid Azure AD-Active Directory (AD) identity infrastructure. A subscription to one of the aforementioned Windows or Microsoft 365 plans is also required.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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