Microsoft shifting to monthly patch update model for Windows 7 and 8.1

Microsoft has announced that it will be shifting to monthly rollup updates for Windows 7 and Windows 8 as of October 2016. The company also announced that this monthly patch model would apply to Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2 as well.

In simple terms, this change means that what would have been delivered as multiple individual patches before will now be rolled out once a month in a single package. According to Microsoft's explanation (opens in new tab), this should reduce fragmentation brought about by the current model, through which different PCs could have different sets of updates installed.

The new model also has the added benefit of always only requiring one update to be downloaded. Microsoft explains:

The Monthly Rollup will be published to Windows Update (WU), WSUS, SCCM, and the Microsoft Update Catalog. Each month's rollup will supersede the previous month's rollup, so there will always be only one update required for your Windows PCs to get current. i.e. a Monthly Rollup in October 2016 will include all updates for October, while November 2016 will include October and November updates, and so on. Devices that have this rollup installed from Windows Update or WSUS will utilize express packages, keeping the monthly download size small.

Microsoft also notes that its goal is for the updates to become eventually "fully cumulative," containing all of the patches shipped "since the last baseline." That process will take place over the course of the next year. In a broader sense, this could be seen as direct a move by Microsoft to push those organizations still on an older OS towards upgrading by removing the unique ability to cherry-pick updates.

Lastly, Microsoft says that it will also push a monthly "Security-only" update that will only contain security patches for that month. This will be released separately from Windows Update via WSUS, SCCM, and the Microsoft Update Catalog.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • What about 7.8 mobile users, in any still exist out there?
  • I like cheese. That is about as relevant to this article as your comment is.
  • I also like cheese. Not those fancy bries though.
  • I prefer Cheddar, American, and Whiz.
  • You made me lol with the Whiz. Although, technically that is cheez...
  • It's also technically not cheese.
  • Windows 7 is a PC OS, used by professionals and organizations and institutions and maybe even armies, so big deal, serious stuff, same thing can not be said about WP 7 or 8.1 or even 10!
  • Really? WP/W10m is more common in corporate than other.
  • So they realized the hectic "update every other random day" doesn't make as much sense as a scheduled and expected period?
  • No... Windows 7 and 8 have always been on a monthly patching cycle... the change is to a cumulative update model instead of hundreds of tiny patches that you can pick and choose from.
  • The voice of reason again. Windows updates for the core OS are already semi-packaged into rollups, packaging security updates will be useful. I wonder if they'll force the .NET frameworks on everyone to roll those updates into the OS or security packages.
  • I'd imagine the security-only updates will be included in the security feed available through WSUS, while the mainstream rollup will include absolutely everything, similar to how the rollup patches occur in Windows 10 (and soon, Server 2016). So if you've added a particular version of the .NET Framework, then it'll get patched. But installing the feature itself won't be accomplished by the patch. Also, it should be noted that the patch servers are clever enough to send you a version with only what you need bundled up in the rollup. So not everyone will have the same size rollup.
  • Good point. It is considered a package of the OS, so it would be rolled into the main package update. I really could have used this package system this weekend. I set up a new VMware image for Windows 7 this weekend. 250+ updates and the build suffered from the prolonged "searching for updates" message bug. Took 12 hours from start to finish to update!!
  • The Simplix pack would have saved you a lot of time.
  • I'll check that out next time, thanks!
  • "the patch servers are clever enough to send you a version with only what you need bundled up in the rollup. So not everyone will have the same size rollup.​" This sounds like what WU does already for 7/8.1...but the end user will just see less individual updates to check/not check. If it's an actual improvement on the backend comprehensive delivery of updates--its "cleverness," to use your wording--then people like PeterFnet could actually benefit from wasting less time while the patch servers determine what versions to bundle up in the rollup or not.
  • Preach it!
  • Thats just great, now it will be even easier for Microsoft to **** up you PC due to a poorly tested update and now you won't even know which update is causing the issue as they will come as a bundle. It has already been a ******* mess each month trying to stop the adware of "upgrade to Win10" to not install on my Win7 notebook; now Microsoft will waste even more of their users time investigating what a particular batch update contains if Microsoft even makes that public anymore. I am sure enterprise system admins will love this, no easier way to get their whole set up ****** by a bad update. Seems like Microsoft is on a path to lose even more customers then ever before.  
  • When someone installs a fresh copy of Windows they whine and complain about the dozens of files they need to download and install. When Microsoft moved away from the service pack model, then people complained that there were too many updates to install. Now they will see one update per Update Tuesday, and people complain that they have to download one file instead of many. Damned if you do, ...
  • As if it's always the same people complaining..
  • I once was designing a feature of a well known tool that many here have probably used (not saying which tool, it would lead back to my real name). We had it working one way, and some people didn't like it. So we changed it to work a different way in the next version, and some people didn't like it. So the next version we gave people an option to choose, and so people complained that we were offering too many options. No matter what you do, people are going to complain. All you can do is try as hard as you can to please everyone, but know that there will be some who are unhappy no matter what happens.
  • Exactly, but that's a consequence of people having different opinions. 
  • No wonder the other company (bitten fruit), do what it does without asking a lot.
  • Lol there are always people complaining with each update, especially for those they hate :D
  • The problem is it also makes it easy for MS to push their spyware into windows 7 and 8.1, the updates they tried to put on my windows 8.1 computer to send telemetric I have hidden and stopped them bing installed. Now with this monthly roll up, MS can install telemetry and any other psy updates and we would not know or be able to get rid of it.   When MS used to use service pacxks, they was not the same company as they are now, now they want to know what we do and when.    
  • I imagine the remaining Windows Updates will likely only address things that are harming the OS security and other large OS bugs of that nature (considering the age of both versions of Windows, there likely aren't many updates of that nature left). They likely won't be major driver updates and such, so these updates likely won't be very high risk. If you're an admin that's worried about this update schedule being an issue, then freeze your updates, minimize your update deployment batches, or test them before letting the update go domain-wide. These steps should be obvious..
  • Very well said! No longer having the option to control which updates install on your system is a significant step back and just further diminishes trust in microsoft. This will merely make it easier for your system to get f*cked up by microsoft, just like they're doing to systems running windows 10; forcing driver updates unto your device. Also, if you don't like an update, like KB 3068708, 3022345, 3075249, & 3080149 that were bringing the Windows 10 spyware to Windows 7 and 8.1 users, and literally bypassing the host file, then you're f*cked, 'cause you can't say no to individual updates no more. They really seem desperate to destroy the trust they've built, totally opposite of what Satya claims they want. I sure can't wait for them to get slapped with another lawsuit.
  • This is good news.
  • I like this for the enterprise, only concern is what happens when one of the small updates within that package cause an issue and you need to only remove the little update?
  • Usually, if the update is an issue, Windows will rollback the OS to a time prior to all updates installed before that issue, so the process will remain the same. Let the OS rollback, boot into Windows, pause/suspend that month's update, done.
  • So much potential here
  • Hopefully this won't auto-install driver updates for things like the GPU.
  • It won't, since there are many different variations of those and they don't get released in a monthly schedule either.
  • I agree with SuperMario here. There is a generic GPU update that kills my AIO
  • Hallelujah!!
  • After 9 patches -- Hmmm? It looks just like Windows 10 :)
  • I want updates as they become available (W10). I do not care for anything pre-W10.
    Old-fashioned, outdated software I already de-learned to use.   
  • Then don't use anything pre-W10. Done deal.
  • Including apps released pre-Win10, too ;)
  • aka the release preview branch... That's exactly what that's for, updates as they become available, no cumulative (yes you still get these but large parts are already installed in advance for testing), no patch tuesdays just asap.
  • Hmm what happens if there is a portion of cumulative patch that starts wreaking havoc? With the current model you can uninstall the offending update and hide it. As much I like Windows 10, the forced updates leave alot to be desired especially when it comes to troubleshooting. Since you can't select and download updates. On Windows 7, I would always download a handful. Run it a few days then download another batch. Some updates used to cause random crashes for me especially the buggy drivers.
  • So when does update roll out monthly? Still the usual "Patch Tuesday"?
  • Good idea, as a clean install of Windows 7 requires over 200 updates. This will save a lot of time
  • This is a mixed bag. Less updates but more work if some KB is causing you problems.
  • I guess this is Microsoft telling companies to get their house in order when it comes to updating their own software (notwithstanding faulty patches by MS of course). Often companies are slow to love because they only see software as a necessary evil. Maybe MS's update policy will force companies to look more in to it.
  • Or they will look beyond Microsoft at other alternatives as I am sure some are getting increasing annoyed by Microsoft just as many consumers are by some of the stupid changes being implemented and pushed onto users.  
  • it is annoying to recieve drip treatment with updates everyday. Monthly package updates are much better IMO :)