Old Windows updates will now be expired to improve performance and user experience

nanoguy

Posts: 1,020   +14
Staff member
Why it matters: Not everyone has the benefit of high-speed broadband, and the increasingly remote nature of office work has prompted Microsoft to improve the Windows Update experience by expiring old and redundant update packages where possible. This builds on existing work to reduce update sizes via forward and reverse differential compression, which has been going on since Windows 10 version 1809.

Windows updates have been one of the major sources of pain for users and IT administrators over the years. Back in 2018, Microsoft revealed that it would work on making quality and security updates smaller for Windows 10 client and server SKUs. Last year, the company started testing smaller Windows 10 feature updates to see if it can prevent them from breaking all manner of Windows components and functionality, as well as make things easier for people who are using their machines on a metered connection.

This week, Christine Ahonen, who is the Communications Program Manager for the Windows Servicing and Delivery team, detailed the next step the company will take in making Windows updates faster and more secure.

To put things in context, Microsoft releases two or three updates for each supported Windows version every month, which can quickly pile up into a large backlog of updates that increases the overall size of update packages. And since many of those older updates are included in cumulative updates, it makes the problem worse over time.

Microsoft’s solution to this headache is to regularly evaluate older and redundant update packages and mark them for expiration once they reach a certain volume. As a result, you’ll get better performance in the form of shorter scan times and smaller downloads. At the same time, IT administrators will have a lower risk of deploying older updates that have been superseded by new, more secure updates. Expired updates will be clearly marked as such on all release channels.

That said, some older update packages may never be expired. Notably, security-only updates for Windows 7 SP1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Servers 2008 SP2, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 SP2 will not expire as they only hold one month’s worth of fixes, so they don’t meet the criteria for expiry. At the same time, if a more recent update has a dependency on an older package, the latter won’t be expired until it has been superseded by a newer update package.

With Windows 11, Microsoft is also testing a new way to deliver fixes and feature updates using a new technology called Update Stack Package. The company says this can reduce download sizes by 40 percent and reduce the likelihood of disruptions. Furthermore, the prevalence of remote work and study has made it difficult to deploy security updates over home internet connections, and all these steps will ensure everyone can stay up-to-date with minimal hassle.

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BadThad

Posts: 738   +830
The biggest problem is the updates breaking things. I've battled with them too many times on my work PC! The past 2 updates failed and windows wouldn't boot, just gave me the dreaded "black screen" after it starting to load. Thanks for all the validation work you did MS before sending out the patch. NOT!
 

zamroni111

Posts: 219   +142
The biggest problem is the updates breaking things. I've battled with them too many times on my work PC! The past 2 updates failed and windows wouldn't boot, just gave me the dreaded "black screen" after it starting to load. Thanks for all the validation work you did MS before sending out the patch. NOT!
Defer feature update for a year without blocking security updates.
You can set it from settings app or group policy editor.
 

nagynorbert97

Posts: 12   +2
Interesting, how they try to decrese the size and amount of the updates on W10 and release W11 in basically an early acces form and think about it as a developement process. In the old days they released Service Packs once a year, now update every 2 weeks something unimportat useless feature, ofc they cannot feture and bugtest anything at all.
 

Aux101

Posts: 78   +16
Microsoft should try to implement a Backup Function which would make copies of only the files that are being modified, so it would be easy to rollback in case of any problem resulting from the Update.

That new functionality would ask where we want the files to be backed up on first use.

This way, everyone would feel secured when clicking the infamous Download and Install.
 

Markoni35

Posts: 1,318   +534
They relaese a patch that deletes a previous patch? So, as a result of applying the 2nd patch you get the original Windows before the 1st patch? Wow. I could think for 10 years and never think of something that ingenious. It totally confuses computer viruses.