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Microsoft implores enterprises to help it test optional Windows 7 updates

Gregg Keizer | May 27, 2015
Accept optional updates, rollups as they come out, Microsoft asks firms running Windows 7; argues that it's the way to get ready for Windows 10

[Note: Paquay did not touch on another tactic Microsoft has used to test patches. That stratagem renames some optional updates as recommended for a subset of its consumer audience. Computerworld experienced that in March when some of its Windows 7 PCs automatically received the then-optional guts of an update-to-Windows-10 "nag" mechanism; the ad campaign update only officially shifted to "recommended" on May 14.]

"We need enterprise feedback," Paquay said. "We don't know what's happening in the IT pro world with those updates, and we need to know. We want feedback to know whether those [updates] are enterprise ready, enterprise quality before we put them 'recommended' in the future."

Help yourselves.... Really, its for you

Microsoft is using two arguments to make its case that rely on self-interest on the part of IT administrators: Optional updates applied proactively can stymie problems before they appear, and piecemeal patching results in a heterogeneous environment that in the end is harder to manage.

"What's bad around [not applying optional updates] is if the problem is data corruption in a database or the file system on the file server, or the problem is a blue screen, or a system hang and happens on a server on a cluster, it's really bad to wait for this to happen," said Paquay. "Then your business suffers."

However, he spent much more time beating the Windows 10-style drum, telling his IT audience that contrary to decades of enterprise practices, they would benefit from having all devices always up to date. That, of course, is the Windows 10 model Microsoft has pushed.

"To simplify your IT process and policy, and make it look very much like Windows 10 will look when it releases into your environment ... having your devices always up to date is the best policy," argued Paquay. "It's the easiest for troubleshooting, it's the easiest when you call us for support."

Rollups, those collections of numerous hotfixes, should also be routinely deployed, urged Paquay, so that the enterprise has a "clean baseline" for a specific OS, such as Windows 7.

Microsoft has even taken to labeling major Windows 8.1 rollups with the same "long-term service branch" (LTSB) name it has used to define Windows 10's most restrictive update channel, one limited to companies running Windows Enterprise, the SKU available only to volume licensing customers who also pay for the Software Assurance (SA) upgrade annuity program. Microsoft applied the LTSB moniker to a November 2014 rollup for Windows 8.1, for instance.

This summer, Microsoft will also issue a Windows 7 rollup, "To get [you] up to speed in one shot," said Paquay, who called it a "convenience rollup" for the post-Service Pack 1 (SP1) world. (Microsoft shipped Windows 7 SP1 back in 2011.) Paquay said he didn't have a firm date for the Windows 7 rollup's release, but his summer timetable was a clue that it will probably appear either before or simultaneously with the launch of Windows 10.


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