Microsoft has been busily shuffling the Windows-patching deck, especially for Win7 users. That’s both good news and bad.
The company’s push toward monthly roll-up or cumulative updates that contain both security and nonsecurity (aka “quality”) fixes should make updating Windows faster and easier. But there’s also a dark side to this new methodology.
When a roll-up/cumulative update refuses to install, it can be mighty difficult to figure out what’s getting hung up. For example, I have a Win10 system that won’t complete the installation of a cumulative update, and I’ve yet to figure out why. Many end users can only hope that the next month’s fixes will solve any updating problems — and also hope that they don’t get an infection due to a missing security patch.
For those who are confused by Microsoft’s updating process, here’s a general guideline. Some of the information is based on the MS TechNet article, “Further simplifying servicing models for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1,” along with a follow-up report.
The ‘official” update-release routine
We’ll start with a quick cheat sheet of Microsoft’s updating schedule for Office and Windows. At the end of the article, I list online resources for more information on released updates.
- Week 1: Microsoft releases nonsecurity Office updates, as listed on a TechNet Office Updates page. You can click though to each update in order to see what’s added or changed. (Or you can see our summary in the first monthly Patch Watch column.) As of now, nonsecurity Office updates are still released separately — i.e., not in a roll-up update.
- Week 2: Microsoft still releases both nonsecurity and security updates for Windows on the traditional Patch Tuesday, though in a new format for Win7 and Win8.1 users.
Vista users should continue to see separate updates until the OS loses all support on April 11, 2017. (If you’re still running Vista, start planning to move to a newer OS soon, though your only choice might be Windows 10.
Win7 and Win8.1 users now get a monthly roll-up update that, over time, will become more like the Win10 patching system. In coming months, Microsoft plans to add patches from previous months so the rollups become cumulative.