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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.

Goettl stressed that the security bundles are the new normal for all users of Windows 10, but also worried that an inability to extricate the individual updates would be an issue for businesses who want, or need, to pass on some for regulatory or policy reasons. "That's where I think problems are going to come up," he said, ticking off FDA-approved medical devices, point-of-sale systems, and government PCs like those in the Department of Defense. "This will require a mindset change [in IT] and a process change."

He also wondered whether Microsoft would continue the practice of delivering cumulative updates only.

So far, the Windows 10 updates have been cumulative, meaning that they include older updates as well as the newest.

"Is this going to be the norm from now on? If the August [cumulative] update breaks something, will there be a broken chain from there?" asked Goettl, afraid that if one of those updates crippled, say, a specific application used by a business and Microsoft was not able to fix the problem, the customer would be stuck not only with a busted app but also out of the future patch loop because patches will only download and install on an up-to-date system.

Those questions have yet to be answered by Microsoft.

In part, that's because Microsoft has not established separate tracks for Windows 10: So far, it's been serving the same updates at the same time to everyone, including its Insider preview participants as well as those running the production build.

According to Gabriel Aul, engineering general manager for Microsoft's OS group and the spokesman for all update topics, that won't last.

"We're in an unusual time, when Insiders have same bits as public," Aul tweeted on Aug. 5. "When Insiders move forward, we'll see ringed updates."

Aul's reference to "ringed updates" was to Microsoft's plans to segregate customers into multiple update tracks -- called "branches" -- and within each track, two or more "rings." The latter will let users get on the fastest update "train," or delay updates to some extent.

Goettl was by turns optimistic and downbeat about how Microsoft would distribute patches to Windows 10 PCs in the future. "I don't foresee a change [in the bundling aspect]," he said. "But are they going to stop [shipping just] cumulative updates?"

On the latter, he hoped that Microsoft was delivering cumulative updates only because it's early in Windows 10's roll-out, and that the company was pressing to get everyone on the same build but would later issue non-cumulative collections. "I think they're trying to get everyone onto the same level, and in the future updates will no longer be cumulative," said Goettl. "That would give enterprises a bit more control."


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