Every twelve months after GA, the installation files will be updated to contain all the Cumulative Updates in what is effectively now a service pack, but won’t be called that. This will also become the slipstream update. In other words, you’re more likely to be up to date when installing from scratch, later in the release cycle.
Customers on the GDR (General Distribution Release) release cycle will only get important security and corruption fixes, as before. You can switch to the standard CU release cadence any time, but once you do, you can’t switch back to GDR.
So now fast forward to late 2018, early 2019. You’re about to build a new SQL Server for a project, and you have two choices:
- SQL Server 2018 – which is basically the new dev branch, getting monthly updates, or
- SQL Server 2017 (or 2016, or 2014) – which is the stable branch, getting quarterly updates
Once a version has hit CU12, and it only gets updates once a quarter, it might be considered Good Enough For Our Apps. Managers might see 2017/2016/2014 interchangeably at that point – which might be great for the second most recent version’s adoption.
It will be interesting to see how companies adopt this new model.