Windows updates, an entire program ! There have been in recent years so many changes on how these updates are distributed today difficult to understand something, while it is a key element to guarantee the security and stability of its operating system! You want to know everything about windows updates and how are they distributed? This article tells you everything! 👍
Before you start reading, prepare yourself a small herbal tea, you will need it. 😅
- 1 Types of Windows Updates
- 2 Distribution methods for Windows updates
- 2.1 2006: GDR and LDR fixes (Hotfixes)
- 2.2 2012: set of updates (Update Rollup)
- 2.3 2014: Cumulative Update Bundle (Cumulative Update Rollup)
- 2.4 2015: cumulative monthly updates (Monthly Rollup) [W10]
- 2.5 2016: monthly security and reliability updates (Security Monthly Quality Rollup) [W7/8.1]
- 2.6 Today: recap
- 3 Windows update schedule
Types of Windows Updates
It exists three types of update Windows:
- Updates of security, which contain security patches that fix security flaws Windows and prevent their exploitation by hackers.
- Updates reliability (or non-security), which contain reliability fixes that improve reliability and performance Windows.
- Updates features, which add new features to the operating system (Windows 10 only).
Updates are broadcast on different platforms : Windows Update for individuals ; Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), and Windows Update Catalog for companies.
Over the course of different versions of Windows, the way Microsoft packages and distributes updates to customers has changed. evolved a lot before arriving at the establishment of cumulative monthly updates that we know today on Windows 10.
Distribution methods for Windows updates
2006: GDR and LDR fixes (Hotfixes)
From Windows Vista (November 2006) and up to Windows 8, updates (security and reliability) are published on 2 distinct branches :
- GDR (General Distribution Release): contains the fixes distributed automatically to all Windows PCs for the resolution of critical issues.
- LDR (Limited Distribution Release): contains the fixes distributed on demand for the resolution of specific problems.
Each patch is published in a single update (MSU file). In other words, there are as many updates to download and install how many security and reliability patches are available!
So, if you installed a fresh copy of Windows 7 SP1, an insane number of updates (which were released after the OS was released) had to be downloaded and installed! Installing all these fixes could take many hours with many restarts. 🤯
2012: set of updates (Update Rollup)
From Windows 8 (October 2012), the reliability fixes are published in a set of updates (Update Rollup).
- The installation of patches is simplified since it suffices to install a set of updates to install multiple patches at the same time.
- A set of updates is not cumulative, it is therefore necessary to install each set of updates one after the other to benefit from an up-to-date system.
- When a fix is included in an update set, it is not not possible to uninstall this particular patch, the update set must be uninstalled if a problem is identified.
Even though it’s far from perfect and security updates aren’t affected, the idea is there and it’s much more practical for users! 😀
You can find the Update Rollup list via the following links:
2014: Cumulative Update Bundle (Cumulative Update Rollup)
THE’cumulative update set (Cumulative Update Rollup) is theevolution of the update set (Update Rollup): it groups together reliability fixes and now security fixes, all in substitute previously released updates!
We are talking about an update cumulative, a feature that was sorely lacking. Now, you only need to install the latest cumulative update to get all the fixes released so far at once. 👏 🙂
The first cumulative update was released in april 2014 for Windows 8.1: Windows 8.1 Update. It contains all the fixes (security and reliability) released since the release of Windows 8.1 RTM. This update is obligatory to install all future cumulative updates.
In the end, Windows 8.1 will receive three sets of cumulative updates:
2015: cumulative monthly updates (Monthly Rollup) [W10]
With Windows 10, Microsoft made to evolve its distribution model updates with the introduction of the model Windows as a Service (WaaS).
Patches are always distributed as a cumulative update set – now called quality updates (Quality Updates) – but this time they are published every month (Monthly Rollup). 👍
This monthly cumulative update contains all fixes safety and reliability released for a specific version of Windows 10 (e.g. 1709, 1803).
You can find the Monthly Rollup list via the following link: list of Monthly Rollups for Windows 10.
Also and for the first time in the history of Windows, Microsoft releases for Windows 10 feature updates (Feature Updates) which add new features to the operating system.
2016: monthly security and reliability updates (Security Monthly Quality Rollup) [W7/8.1]
May 2016, act 1
Until then published at any moment throughout the year and starting from the observation that the updates reliability are not not always installed (causing stability and performance issues) on Windows 7 and 8.1, Microsoft announces that updates to reliability for Windows 7 and 8.1 will now be published in a single cumulative update (Monthly Rollup) according to one monthly due (the second Tuesday of each month), as well as the cumulative monthly updates for Windows 10 (these also contain security updates).
But that’s not all: Microsoft is giving Windows 7 users a freebie by making a cumulative update called Windows 7 SP1 Convenience Rollup on the Windows Update Catalog. This update will install almost all fixes (safety and reliability) released since the release of Windows 7 SP1 and so reduce drastically the installation time of updates after installing Windows 7.
October 2016, act 2
If you have followed correctly, the update distribution model for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 is always on updates from security monthly units and updates of reliability cumulative monthly. Windows 8.1 receives in addition to sets cumulative updates (containing security updates + reliability updates) distributed at irregular intervals (Update, Update 2 then November Update Rollup).
Still alive ? 😂
Following customer feedback after the May 2016 announcement and to simplify matters, Microsoft decided toadopt the same Windows 10 update model (cumulative monthly updates) for Windows 7 and 8.1.
Thus, from October 2016, only one cumulative update (Monthly Rollup) comprising both security and reliability fixes is published each month for Windows 7 and 8.1. This monthly update is cumulative and incorporates the fixes released the previous month.
As of 2017, all fixes released after Windows 7 Service Pack 1 are phased in. integrated in the cumulative monthly update.
You can find the list of cumulative monthly updates via the following links:
Finally, in order to allow companies to install only security patches, a set of updates containing uniquely security patches are available every month: monthly security updates only (Security-Only Quality Update). This monthly security update is not cumulative (it does not include the fixes released the previous month). It is only available on WSUS / SCCM / Windows Update Catalog, not on Windows Update.
To recap, here is Windows updates distribution methods in force since October 2016:
|BONE||How updates are distributed|
|Windows 7 SP1|
|– Security Monthly Quality Rollup : cumulative security and reliability updates (distributed monthly)|
– Security-Only Quality Update : set of security updates (distributed to companies)
|Windows 10||– Monthly Rollup : cumulative security and reliability updates (distributed monthly)|
Windows update schedule
Every month, Microsoft releases Windows Updates according to the next schedule :
- Second Tuesday of the month (aka Patch Tuesday): publication of the cumulative monthly update (Monthly Rollup by W10 + Security Monthly Quality Rollup of W7 / 8.1) and monthly security update only (Security-Only Quality Update of W7 / 8.1).
- Third Tuesday of the month: publication of a preview of future cumulative monthly update containing the reliability fixes that will be included in the next cumulative monthly update.
- During the month : possible publication of one or more critical security fixes (Out-Of-Band Security Update) in case of discovery of zero-day vulnerabilities. These fixes will then be incorporated into the next monthly cumulative / security update only.
|Cumulative monthly update|
Monthly Rollup (W10)
Security Monthly Quality Rollup (W7 / 8.1)
|New security and reliability fixes|
+ fixes from previous cumulative monthly updates
|2e Tuesday of the month|
|Monthly security update only|
Security-Only Quality Update (W7 / 8.1)
|New security patches||2e Tuesday of the month|
|Cumulative Monthly Update Preview|
Preview of Monthly Quality Rollup
|New security and reliability fixes|
+ fixes from previous cumulative monthly updates
+ reliability fixes that will be included in the next cumulative monthly update
|3e Tuesday of the month|
Not easy to understand the first time, I grant you!
I hope all the same that this article will have allowed you to see more clearly on the windows updates, from their packaging to the way they are distributed to users. 🙂