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Patch bundles are the new norm for Windows 10

Gregg Keizer | Aug. 13, 2015
Microsoft yesterday showed how it will distribute security updates to Windows 10 as it packaged all those that apply to the new OS in a single download.

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Microsoft yesterday showed how it will distribute security updates to Windows 10 as it packaged all those that apply to the new OS in a single download.

That's different from how Microsoft has treated -- and continues to treat -- earlier editions, including Windows 7, which receive each security update, called a "bulletin" by Microsoft, separately, in its own file.

"Microsoft has changed the game with its Windows 10 patches. Instead of releasing patches individually, it is now releasing patches in bundles," said Chris Goettl, product manager at patch management vendor Shavlik, in an email. "This makes it easy to patch systems, but it also means that users can no longer test patches individually before integrating them, which could be problematic if one patch causes issues."

Tuesday's "Cumulative update for Windows 10: August 11, 2015," collected the six bulletins that applied to Windows 10, three of them rated "critical," the most severe in Microsoft's four-step threat scoring system. The bulletins ranged from one each for Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) and Edge -- the two browsers now tucked into 10 -- to another critical bulletin that patched a slew of vulnerabilities in the OS.

Altogether, Microsoft patched 29 flaws with the Windows 10 update.

The Redmond, Wash. firm issued a total of 14 security bulletins Tuesday.

"The way they're packaged, it's a single installer," said Goettl in a Wednesday interview.

As he noted, Microsoft has traditionally delivered individual bulletins, which are downloaded as needed by each device. That flexibility meant Microsoft did not have to bundle bulletins for each operating system -- one parcel for Windows 7, another for Windows 8.1, a package for Windows Server 2012 R2 -- as it has for Windows 10. At the same time, the practice let customers reject or accept any one update, a technique many used to avoid patches that had caused trouble, or worse, for others.

That's not an option for Windows 10, which with the exception of some IT-managed machines, lacks a mechanism to deny any update indefinitely, much less unwrap a bundle into its separate pieces. In fact, businesses relying on Microsoft's own WSUS (Windows Server Update Service), or any other patch management platform for that matter, are in the same boat as consumers who grab patches from Windows Update: The Windows 10 bundle cannot be unraveled into its six bulletins.

The bundle was distributed to not only Insiders and consumers running Windows 10 Home, but also to businesses running Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise Goettl confirmed; those last two SKUs (stock-keeping units) grab patches via Windows Update for Business (WUB), WSUS, or other patch and update management software. Even organizations running Windows 10 Enterprise that have adopted the "Long-term servicing branch," or LTSB -- the track that most closely resembles the historical update process -- saw the bundle.


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