Microsoft overhauls Windows 7 and 8.1 updating -- but don't call it a service pack

The status of Win 8.1 is still unclear, but it looks like updates to Win7 will (finally!) run much faster

In a TechNet post called  "Simplifying updates for Windows 7 and 8.1," Microsoft engineer Nathan Mercer has wonderful news for Windows 7 customers -- particularly those who've spent hours and hours (and days) waiting for Windows Updates.

While it eschews the old-fashioned phrase "service pack," Mercer's announcement is exactly that.

Here's how he puts it:

We're making available a new convenience rollup for Windows 7 SP1 ...  [it] contains all the security and non-security fixes released since the release of Windows 7 SP1 that are suitable for general distribution, up through April 2016.  Install this one update, and then you only need new updates released after April 2016.... This convenience update is completely optional; it doesn't have to be installed and won't even be offered via Windows Update -- you can choose whether or not you want to use it.

The Microsoft Update Catalog site is so ancient, it requires Internet Explorer and an ActiveX control.

The downloaded package -- identified as KB 3125574, at 477MB for 64-bit systems -- doesn't yet have an associated Knowledge Base article, nor are there any installation instructions for the downloaded file (double-click on the file ending in .msu to invoke the Windows Update Standalone Installer).

Most confusing, the update on offer is clearly marked as a Windows 7 update. There's no analogous update for Windows 8.1 yet.

Mercer goes on to say:

Also today we are announcing that non-security updates for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 (as well as Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2) will be available as a monthly rollup (fixes rolled up together into a single update).  Each month, we will release a single update containing all of the non-security fixes for that month.  We are making this change -- shifting to rollup updates, to improve the reliability and quality of our updates.... These fixes will be available through Windows Update, WSUS, and SCCM as well as the Microsoft Update catalog.  We hope this monthly rollup update simplifies your process of keeping Windows 7, and 8.1 up-to-date.

That should come as a huge relief to the 50 percent of Windows users who are still on Windows 7.

I read it as Windows 7 Service Pack 2 and (possibly, at some point) Windows 8.1 Service Pack 1. But never mind. You can call it anything you like, as long as it works.

Tests are underway.


Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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