Your next Windows Update will be less complex. Starting with Patch Tuesday on October 11, Microsoft will roll its monthly Windows updates for Windows 7 and 8.1 into a single update package.
We got a taste of how rollups will work — and how they can make reinstalling Windows much easier — when Microsoft released the Convenience Rollup for Windows 7 and 8.1. (Note: support for Windows 8 has expired.)
The upcoming change mimics the functionality of Windows Update in Windows 10. However, in Windows 7 and 8.1 you’ll still have the option to disable Windows Update. Moreover, there’s an option to manually install security-only updates. Let us show you how it all works.
Why Is Microsoft Redesigning Windows Update?
Windows Update has changed drastically in Windows 10. Not only did plenty of users experience forced upgrades to Windows 10 — inside Windows 10, forced updates continue. The changes coming to Windows 7 and 8.1 create a very similar situation. This is both good and bad.
On the bright side, consistent security updates and patches contribute to the overall safety of computer networks. On the other hand, Microsoft has released its share of faulty updates that caused software and hardware malfunctions, crashing, freezing, and other issues. Driver updates in Windows 10 have been a notable culprit of limited testing and subsequent problems.
However, you could say that the overall benefits of forced updates outweigh individual setbacks.
Not only can rollups increase security, but they will also reduce fragmentation. Microsoft reports that individually combined updates have led to issues like sync and dependency errors, increased scan times, or difficulties in finding existing patches for known issues, to name a few.
The new rollup model gives you fewer updates to manage, greater predictability, and higher quality updates. The outcome increases Windows operating system reliability, by eliminating update fragmentation and providing more proactive patches for known issues. Getting and staying current will also be easier with only one rollup update required.
What Will Monthly Rollups Look Like?
In Windows 7 and 8.1, you used to have full control over Windows Update. In the past, you could choose to only install important (security) updates. You could also pick and choose exactly the updates you wished to install. This will no longer be possible.
Starting in October, you can either install the monthly rollup that contains all “fixes rolled up together into a single update,” or you can opt out of receiving updates entirely.
From October 2016 onwards, Windows will release a single Monthly Rollup that addresses both security issues and reliability issues in a single update … Individual patches will no longer be available.
The monthly rollups will include security and reliability updates. They will not include updates for Servicing Stack and Adobe Flash.
Each monthly rollup will also be cumulative. This means that November’s rollup will include all updates from October, the December rollup will include updates from October and November, and so forth. If you already installed rollups from previous months, Windows Update will apply an express package for the current month only. This will save your bandwidth.
If you have skipped key patches in the past, Microsoft may subsequently add them to your monthly rollups. Over time, the monthly updates will fully patch your system.
What If I Only Want to Install Security Updates?
As mentioned above, disabling Windows Update will remain an option in Windows 7 and 8.1. If you wish to install only security updates, you can manually download a security-only update (essentially a rollup) from Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), System Center Configuration Manager, or the Microsoft Update Catalog (requires Internet Explorer). These solutions target Enterprise customers, but the Microsoft Update Catalog is a public repository.
At this point, we don’t know whether security-only updates will be available to Windows Home and Professional users. If they are, you may want to look into third-party software like WSUS Offline Update, which can download Windows and Office updates from Microsoft. WSUS Offline Update can package the updates into an ISO image and you can deploy them to multiple machines.
Will You Continue to Update Your Computer?
In theory, monthly rollups are more convenient. But keep in mind that they also force you to accept any privacy-compromising patches Microsoft may decide to package into a rollup. Moreover, should one of the monthly rollups include a bad update, you might have to roll back the entire update and leave vulnerabilities unpatched until Microsoft offers a fixed rollup.
The new Windows Update is less than ideal. It may be less complex and save some time, but we’ll lose a whole lot of control. Then again, it’s not like we have a choice. As Woody Leonhard noted, it looks like resistance is futile. Or is it?
Given these changes, how are you planning to handle Windows Update in Windows 7 and 8.1 from now on? Will you try to update manually or are you ready to install monthly rollups? Or will you just move to Windows 10 after all? Let’s hear your opinion in the comments!