Windows 7 and 8.1 Move to Monthly Update 'Rollup' Model

Replacing the current patchwork of OS updates, Microsoft claims that the monthly 'rollups' will simplify system patching tasks and ease administrative burdens.

Microsoft Windows 7, 8.1 update

Changes are coming to how some of Microsoft's vintage, yet still supported Windows operating systems are updated, the company announced yesterday.

Beginning in October, instead of individual patches that address security and reliability issues, the software giant is bundling them into cumulative "monthly rollups," Nathan Mercer, a senior product marketing manager at Microsoft, announced in Aug. 15 blog post. The change affects Windows 7 SP1 and 8.1 along with Windows Server 2008 R2, 2012 and 2012 R2.

The current system of individual patches for older systems is growing unwieldy for some organizations, according to Mercer. PCs with different sets of updates can complicate patch testing procedures and cause dependency errors, among other problems.

"By moving to a rollup model, we bring a more consistent and simplified servicing experience to Windows 7 SP1 and 8.1, so that all supported versions of Windows follow a similar update servicing model," wrote Mercer. "The new rollup model gives you fewer updates to manage, greater predictability and higher quality updates."

Microsoft claims the new Monthly Rollup model will eliminate update fragmentation, improving the reliability of the Windows operating system. And by updating their Windows PCs and servers in one fell swoop, IT professionals have less administrative overhead to contend with each month, he argued.

The company will publish future rollups to Windows Update (WU), Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) and the Microsoft Update Catalog. The company is working on removing the ActiveX requirement on the Microsoft Update Catalog website so that it works with any browser, added Mercer.

"Over time, Windows will also proactively add patches to the Monthly Rollup that have been released in the past," said Mercer. "Our goal is eventually to include all of the patches we have shipped in the past since the last baseline, so that the Monthly Rollup becomes fully cumulative and you need only to install the latest single rollup to be up to date."

Microsoft will furnish IT professionals with documentation when it adds previous patches, he assured.

Soon after Windows 10 was released, Microsoft faced criticism for its lack of transparency concerning the content in the operating system's updates. In February, after an outcry from the IT community, the company began publishing Windows 10 release notes.

Microsoft is also readying a single security-only update that includes all the security patches for a given month. It will be available on WSUS, SCCM and the Microsoft Update Catalog, but not Windows Update.

Finally, the company's .NET software framework will also follow the new Monthly Rollup model along with an accompanying security-only update. Microsoft intends to release the .NET rollups alongside the monthly Windows updates.

"It is important to note that the rollup for the .NET Framework will only deliver security and quality updates to the .NET Framework versions currently installed on your machine," said Mercer. The base .NET version on a user's machine will not be upgraded during the update process.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...