Duck! Windows and Office patches are coming

Last month’s buggy patches don’t instill confidence. For your own peace of mind, delay Automatic Update at least a few days, until the bugs have shaken out.

Windows and Office patches are coming
Thinkstock/Microsoft

If you’re running Windows, do yourself a favor and put Automatic Update on a temporary hold. Then wait and see if anything comes bursting apart at the seams.

Last month, there was good reason to install specific patches shortly after they were released — at least if you couldn’t train yourself to avoid the “Enable Editing” button in Word. But by and large, if you could avoid that button, there were myriad reasons why waiting a bit before installing the September patches paid off.

Sadly, that's typical these days.

Later today, Microsoft is scheduled to release security patches for a dozen or so platforms, including every version of Windows (even RT 8.1), Office, Internet Explorer Skype, and the heart of the JavaScript engine called ChakraCore. The patches may install without a hitch. Or maybe not.

In any event, now’s a good time to make sure you have Automatic Update turned off. Get out of the unpaid patch-beta testing pool. Set yourself a reminder, if you need one, to check in a few days and see how the patches are doing.

Of course, I will be watching closely and will warn you if there’s something that has to be installed, like, right now. If this month is like the vast majority of Windows patching months, you have more to lose from botched patches than there is to gain by immediately installing the patches.

How to turn off Automatic Update for Windows patches

If you’re using Windows 7 or 8.1, the Automatic Update block is easy: Click Start > Control Panel > System and Security. Under Windows Update, click the "Turn automatic updating on or off" link. Click the "Change Settings" link on the left. Verify that you have Important Updates set to "Never check for updates (not recommended)" and click OK.

If you’re on Windows 10 Pro Creators Update, version 1703, you can use Windows’ built-in tools to hold off on the looming patches — just follow Steps 7 and 8 in 8 steps to install Windows 10 patches like a pro.  Other Windows 10 users aren’t quite so lucky, but the general approach is detailed in Woody's Win10Tip: Block forced Windows updates.

Take a minute right now and make sure Automatic Update is turned off. Then follow along here, or on your favorite Windows bug reporting site, to see what the beta testers have to say.

I’ve set the MS-DEFCON level to 2 on AskWoody.com.

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