Microsoft provides clarity on new patching policy for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1

Microsoft has delved into more detail on its new patching policy for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 that takes effect today in a post on a company blog.

In the blog, written by Michael Niehaus – a product marketing director for Windows 10 – the changes to how Windows 7 will be serviced, starting with this month’s patch which is due today.

In August, the company announced that as of October 11th it would only offer cumulative security updates for the two operating systems. This marked an end to the long-held policy of letting customers choose which patches they apply.

It is no surprise however that Microsoft has opted for this model. In practice, this brings Windows 7’s updating rules up to date with Windows 10, which has always relied on cumulative updates. These updates contain all of the previous releases along with the new fixes.

While the post clearly states the direction in which the operating systems are headed, it did not actually contain any new information that hadn’t been previously stated in the company’s initial announcement or in its correspondance with users. 

There will be three monthly updates with the third being issued on the third Tuesday of the month and being dubbed the ‘Preview Rollup’. This latter patch will contain early versions of the non-security fixes that are due to ship in the following month in addition to all security and non-security patches included in prior updates. 

Preview Rollup will be issued to all PCs running Windows 7 or 8.1 via Windows Update. It will also be offered as an optional update to systems managed by IT administrators using platforms such as Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM).

In addition, Microsoft will also include patches for Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) in cumulative updates. In answers to questions given by customers, the company had previously said that IE11 would have seperate updates.

While this change might be seen as useful for users who do not want to be constantly updating their systems daily, the more tech savvy user might be disgruntled by this policy as it could be argued that Windows is becoming a more closed off operating system. 

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