As most Windows 7 users know, patching the operating system can result in both minor and major system failures.
Windows 8, due out Oct. 26, comes with new tools that should prevent or fix patching problems.
Using component-based servicing
When Microsoft built Vista, it completely redesigned how Windows obtained updates. Instead of retaining Windows XP’s multiple ways to install patches, Microsoft opted for one update system that not only installed patches more quickly but also could fix itself when the updating process failed. (System recovery no longer needed the original Windows installation media.)
Unfortunately, the system wasn’t perfect — problems cropped up that have persisted through Windows 7. With Windows 8, Microsoft finally added new tools and fixes that should make Windows updating easier and more reliable.
Today, when you click Install updates in Vista or Windows 7, Windows Update or Microsoft Update downloads the patch files, stages them, and then requests a system reboot. It’s during the reboot that the update system’s heavy lifting starts. An entry in TechNet’s The Windows Servicing Guy blog provides details on how this works.
When cracks in the updating system appeared not long after Microsoft released Vista, the company offered an IT tool — CheckSUR — that could detect and repair update servicing-stack failures, as discussed in another post from The Windows Servicing Guy.
Installing the utility — renamed the System Update Readiness Tool (SURT) — is explained in MS Support article 947821. SURT can be downloaded from the Microsoft Download Center site (article 947821 includes download links for the various versions of Windows), or it might show up in Windows Update when Vista’s or Win7′s update system detects an update-installation failure.