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Microsoft cloaks the details of Windows 10 updates

Gregg Keizer | July 21, 2015
Microsoft last week demonstrated how much of a black box a Windows 10 update may be to the millions of users expected to upgrade to the new operating system.

Windows 10 build 10240 update
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft last week demonstrated how much of a black box a Windows 10 update may be to the millions of users expected to upgrade to the new operating system.

The Redmond, Wash. company has served two updates to Windows 10 devices running the July 15 preview build 10240, which most believe will be almost identical to what Microsoft launches next week when the free upgrade program launches.

Identified as KB3074663 and KB3074665, the second of the pair was announced Friday by Gabriel Aul, engineering general manager for Microsoft's OS group, on Twitter. "We're releasing an update package on WU [Windows Update] for PC build 10240 today. It will install automatically or you can check for updates to grab it," Aul tweeted. Minutes later, he added, "It will be described as a security update, but that's just because it's cumulative and includes the last package's security fix."

Microsoft said only a bit more than that on the support document linked to KB3074665. "Microsoft has released a security advisory about vulnerabilities in Adobe Flash Player in Internet Explorer," the document stated. "Additionally, this update includes non-security-related changes to enhance the functionality of Windows 10 through new features and improvements."

Although there was a smattering of replies to Aul's tweets from users complaining about problems after installing KB3074665, and some messages about issues on the Windows 10 support forum, they were neither pervasive nor a surprise: Any given update typically generates some such reports.

However, Aul did acknowledge that a bug in the OS's networking stack -- which caused Wi-Fi troubles for some -- is known and would be patched.

The first update, KB3074663, was released July 15, and was also marked as a security update. "The vulnerability could allow elevation of privilege if the Windows Installer service incorrectly runs custom action scripts," said the accompanying support document. Like its follow-up, KB3074663 also used the phrase "This update includes non-security-related changes to enhance the functionality of Windows 10 through new features and improvements."

What may disturb veteran and advanced Windows users is the paucity of information about the contents of KB3074663 and KB3074665 other than the security-related components. The phrase "includes non-security-related changes to enhance the functionality of Windows 10 through new features and improvements" could cover a host of changes across wide spectrums of the OS.

For editions prior to Windows 10, Microsoft identifies non-security updates separately, each with its own support document -- a "KB" in Microsoft's parlance -- even though the accompanying descriptions are often as terse as a tweet.

It's not clear whether the bundling of multiple changes related to both security and non-security issues into single updates will continue with the production version of Windows 10 -- those running Windows 10 Home, for instance, who will receive updates automatically through the Windows Update service -- or will remain a Windows Insider-only practice.

 

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