What Microsoft has joined together, let no man put asunder. Except for .Net patches.

Microsoft cracks open the cumulative update jumble for Win10 version 1809 and later, finally letting you install security patches and .Net patches separately. But can it walk the talk?

Open windows with billowy curtains

Do you remember the July patching debacle? We were treated to wave after wave of Win10 patches that didn’t work. Arguably worst of all, the .Net patches were so bad that the Microsoft .Net Framework team publicly — on Github, no less — posted a warning, advising those who had been suckered into installing the patches to curl up real tight and kiss their keesters goodbye.

I have it on good authority that the A-string .Net development team, who apparently were mostly on vacation at the time, had screaming fits, replete with pulled hair and not-so-subtle threats.

The folks in the trenches who were responsible for installing the patches weren’t any happier.

Now we’re seeing some relief, and it’s coming from a totally unexpected direction. Microsoft now vows that, starting with the next version of Windows, cumulative updates will come in two discrete packages: One for .Net, and the other for everything else.

The official announcement has layers of happy talk — the new .Net patches are going to be the best ever, of course — but at its core, the new plan represents a significant departure from the current method of patching Win10. Instead of delivering one blob of security patches every month, we’re going to get two. That way, if the .Net cumulative update turns out to be a massive pile of beetle dung — the problem we saw unfold multiple times in July — you can still install the other cumulative update. And vice versa.

For those of you who have been around the block a few times, that’s heading in the direction of the old Windows 7 patches, where you could hold off on installing individual malfunctioning patches, and catch up with a Service Release.

Of course, Win7 isn’t that way anymore and hasn’t been since the Win7/8.1 patchocalypse two years ago. We’re still doomed to install patches as a group, even when one part of the group turns into Hannibal Lecter. But at least now — starting with Win10 1809 — we’ll have a chance to hold off on .Net patches.

Microsoft’s intent is to release the .Net cumulative update at the same time as the general Win10 cumulative update. It’ll be interesting to see how long that lasts — and whether we’ll hit a situation where the .Net cumulative update requires the main cumulative update. Cue sad trombone.

We’re also told:

  • Preview updates for .Net Framework will be released one to two weeks after the Patch Tuesday release, for non-security fixes as a limited distribution release (will not be installed automatically).
  • Out-of-band releases are reserved for situations where customer systems must be updated quickly and outside of the regular schedule, to fix security vulnerabilities or to resolve critical quality issues.

In other words, we can and should expect patches of .Net patches at any point in the month. Same old same old. Microsoft’s also doubling-down on the concept of releasing Preview versions as regular cumulative updates — just not pushing them out the Automatic Update chute. Wonder how long that’ll last.

Folks running earlier versions of Windows — Win10 1803 or earlier, Win7 or 8.1 — won’t see any change. Earlier Win10 versions will get .Net updates bundled with the regular cumulative updates; Win7 and 8.1 will get individual updates.

Microsoft’s official announcement ends with a discussion of “Validating the quality of updates,” in which we’re reassured that .Net patches are the bestest and greatest ever.

Reminds me of something I heard in Texas, while scraping a bit of stuff off my boots: big hat, no cattle.

We’re serving fava beans on the AskWoody Lounge.


Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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