How Microsoft is serious about supporting Linux and cloud rivals with OMS

On-demand development

Traditional Microsoft customers on Windows Server and Azure get the benefit of this new attitude as well. For example, OMS can show you on the dashboard which of your systems are patched and up-to-date and which are missing some updates you could apply. That doesn't work yet with the new Windows Update for Business service for Windows 10 – just updates published through Windows Update. But Reynolds says: "If customers want Windows Update for Business, OMS will do that."

"This is a very different mode of development to how we've operated in the past," he explains. "Before, we would have gone and looked at our competitors in the space. We would have said 'here's a list of the union of all their features and we have to get as many of those as we can before we have a shippable product'. This approach is more continuous improvement – we start with something that has value, that's been validated with the private customer cohorts we work with."

(Cohorts is one of the terms you hear at Microsoft a lot now – it means the group of users who have signed up for a specific level of preview, like the Windows 10 Insider Fast Ring, but for business customers Microsoft does private previews under NDA.)

"Then we improve that rapidly as we go to the public cohorts and we gain more experience with customers using that. So it's the customers using the service who are going to drive it."

"It's a very different model of software delivery for us," Reynolds observes. "We pivot, we deliver rapidly and, sometimes, reliably on our schedules. Really, it's driven by quality and customer feedback." Rapidly means about 300 updates a month – Reynolds notes that "we're constantly making small improvements, driving the service forward and polishing it."

Next stage of OMS

One common request is to be able to take action right from the dashboards. "Customers want to be able to automate the patching of the things that are showing up here as critical," says Reynolds. "We're getting a lot of feedback saying 'let me set a rule with a set of policies and based on this assessment that you're showing me, go fix all the missing critical updates'."

Those sorts of options will come in the next stage of OMS. "There's insight and there's action. With OMS, we've got the platform for insight and we're starting to build a solution that enables customers and community partners to scale that. Then the next step is going to corrective action. We'll get to the first step of that later on," he says.

There's no date for that kind of automation, but OMS gets updated every month, and Reynolds says the priority is what customers are asking for.