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CircleCI Windows images support policy

2 months ago3 min read
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Overview

This document outlines the CircleCI Windows image release, update, and deprecation policy. This policy applies to all Windows images built for the Windows executor.

Release policy

The Windows images are based on Windows Server. We aim to maintain and release two major versions of Windows Server at all times. Currently we support Windows server 2019 and Windows server 2022

Tags will be redirected to the updated images automatically as described in the Tagging section of this document. We will announce these releases on our Discuss Forum.

Tagging

We support various tags for the Windows environment, allowing you to choose a suitable image for your needs.

  • default: version is what you will receive if do not specify an image.

  • current: version of Windows Server will receive updates approximately every three months. This tag will be the same version as what is provided if no tag is specified.

  • edge: tags are reserved for previews of new releases, which will initially point to this tag. The edge tags may include incremental updates to the current quarterly image release, which may change without notice, and is not recommended to be used for production CI workloads. current will be updated with these changes after a period of stability.

  • previous: version of Windows Server will receive the previous version of current.

We generally install the latest Major version of Visual Studio Community Edition that coincides with the Windows Server version in the image when it is built.

We always aim to release a version of the supported windows images (for example, currently this is Windows server 2019 and Windows server 2022) every 3 months. We recommend using the default version and not pinning to a date version.

Tagging with the Windows orb

The variant of Windows Server can be specified by choosing the name parameter in the Windows orb. The most recent version of Windows Server will always be accessible via the win/default name, but previous versions require explicit definition, such as win/server-2019.

Each quarterly (published every 3 months) image for the current tag Windows Server version is published to a date-based tag, such as 2023.10.1, which can be explicitly defined in the version parameter of the orb.

Critical CVE patches

When critical CVEs are disclosed that affect the versions of the operating system or software stack in our Windows Images, we will investigate the impact that this has on our images being used within the CircleCI execution environment. If customers are impacted by these CVEs we will push a patch fix to the released image(s), this image will supersede the original image.

Bug reports, issues, and PRs

You can file a support ticket with CircleCI Support for any issues or bugs found with the Windows images. Our support team will be able to escalate issues internally to the correct engineering team and provide updates on the issue.

Image lifespan / EOL

Once the next major version of Windows Server is released by Microsoft, and generally available to customers, we will deprecate the oldest version of Windows Server that we support and schedule it to be removed.

After the new version of Windows Server has been released, we will then move the current Windows Server version into an extended support phase and move to the tagging system described in the Tagging section of this document.

Current deprecation (Jan 2024):

VersionSupport

Windows Server 2019

Build quarterly images and retain Q4 (October) releases from previous two years

Windows Server 2022

Build quarterly images and only Q4 (October) releases retained each year

Example: When Windows Server 2025 is released

VersionSupport

Windows Server 2019

Deprecated and removed entirely

Windows Server 2022

Retain only current and past two Q4 (October) releases

Windows Server 2025

Quarterly images built and only Q4 (October) image retained each year

When an image is selected for deprecation and removal, we will create an announcement on our Discuss forum, along with reaching out via email to developers who have requested one of the deprecated images in their recent jobs.

We will also plan brownouts to ensure users are aware of the approaching removal of deprecated images. Generally, we will aim to start an EOL process within 3 months of a new version release.

Exceptions

At any time, we reserve the right to work outside of the information in this document if the circumstances require. In the event that we are required to make an exception to the policy, we will aim to provide as much notice and clarity as possible. In these cases, an announcement will be posted on our Discuss Forum, along with additional outreach, such as an email notice, where possible.


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