When Windows 8.1 Update came down the chute last week, Microsoft tossed in a surprise: if you want Windows 8.1 security patches in the future, you have to install Win8.1 Update first.
The requirement is unlike any other in Windows’ history — and it’s been made more complicated by semantics and ongoing Win8.1 Update installation problems.
But there’s also a good part: Windows is evolving in front of our eyes.
First, a note on Microsoft’s terminology — which stinks! Windows 8.1 Update —with a capital U — is essentially one specific patch for Windows 8.1. That patch, KB 2919355, started rolling out on April 8 in the Black Tuesday (Patch Tuesday) lineup.
Rated important, the patch may be obtained in several ways. Most personal/small-business Win8.1 users will see KB 2919355 via Windows Update. That’s a departure from the upgrade to Windows 8.1, which was delivered via the Windows Store. You can also download Win8.1 Update from MSDN, if you have one of those expensive subscriptions, or via a corporate connection to Microsoft’s Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). If your company has purchased volume licenses, you can tap into Microsoft’s Volume Licensing Service Center. Confusingly, some of those versions are slightly different from KB 2919355. But for purposes of this discussion, KB 2919355 is “Windows 8.1 Update.”
(I reviewed Windows 8.1 Update in the April 3 Top Story. It doesn’t provide any earth-shattering enhancements to Windows 8 or 8.1, but there are a few worthwhile usability improvements for those who rely on a mouse and a keyboard.)
Win8.1 Update is not a service pack! Typically, Windows service packs contain patch rollups and a few new features. They’re tested relentlessly inside and outside Microsoft before they’re rolled out. Windows 8.1 wasn’t a service pack, but it, too, went through a lengthy test period. It was released a year after Windows 8.