Microsoft makes it all sound so simple, its grand plan for maintaining Windows 10 on a regular twice-a-year cadence.

New feature upgrade comes out, as 1703, aka Anniversary Update, did seven weeks ago. It starts hitting consumer PCs. Four months later, it’s stamped “PASSED” for the enterprise, and boom, it’s on corporate computers.

While that’s the plan, words fail to illustrate the possible complexities in execution, or even the rapid pace that Microsoft expects businesses to maintain in piloting, testing and deploying one upgrade after another after another. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Because pictures tell stories, too, we’ve illustrated how the Windows 10 rapid release model — what Microsoft dubs “Windows as a service” — will operate.Here's how Windows 10's rapid release works, and looks

When will Microsoft release the next feature upgrade? The company says it’s shooting for September. Computerworld bets that it will be Sept. 12, that month’s Patch Tuesday and also the date when Microsoft will issue an upgrade for Office 365 ProPlus, the locally-installed applications that serve as the core of an Office 365 subscription.

Microsoft has named the feature upgrade as “Fall Creators Update,” but because of the company’s imminently forgetful labels, enterprises should pay attention to the yymm-formatted tag, which will likely be 1709.

How long will Microsoft support 1709? For 18 months. The company has repeatedly committed to a year-and-a-half lifecycle, which means that the upgrade will receive security patches and non-security bug fixes until March 13, 2019 — that month’s Patch Tuesday.

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