The mechanics of Windows patching – in plain English

If you’re troubled by Microsoft’s patching policies, you aren’t alone. If you’re confused about Microsoft’s patching policies, hey, join the club. Here’s my guide to what’s really happening in Update Utopia.

Last week, in an attempt to address the confusion, Microsoft designer and lecturer John Wilcox posted a detailed look at the company’s “update servicing cadence” on the Windows IT Pro blog. In it, Wilcox set out the official patching principles:

  • Be simple and predictable
  • Be agile
  • Be transparent

Microsoft’s adherence to those principles is the subject of ongoing, heated debate, of course.

After laying out the goals, Wilcox delved into the mechanics of patching. It’s a familiar trail of tears for the initiated, but many industry observers and analysts haven’t been able to interpret the Microsoft-speak. Permit me to strip away the bafflegab and explain how Windows (and Office) patching really works – from the customer’s point of view.

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