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Microsoft move hints at the death of Windows service packs

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 12, 2012
Microsoft's first-time move Tuesday to update Windows 8 before the OS launches is a sign of the company's continued edging toward practices long held by rivals Apple and Google.

"We think this new pace of delivering high-quality updates to Windows will be a welcome enhancement for all of our customers," said Sinofsky Tuesday.

There are risks to Microsoft's strategy, warned Miller and Storms. While enterprises traditionally test service packs before they're deployed throughout an organization, the security experts wondered if that would still take place when Microsoft instead delivers a larger number of smaller updates that may include new tools and features, or even "Modern"-style apps.

"My concern is that users may blindly put things on their systems," said Miller. "It's going to challenge organizations to expand their maintenance and testing Windows. We're going to have to adapt."

"Windows Update is an established and trusted delivery mechanism. but if a user installs an update from Windows Update and experiences a blue screen, then that trust will be lost," said Storms.

Even Cherry chimed in. "Back when Patch Tuesday got started, it didn't have a good track record and so a lot of us were concerned about mixing bug fixes and features together. Now, its track record is much better. But you're only as good as your last update."

Some Windows 8 users were thinking more about the size of Tuesday's update than about any potential problems in the future. "Wow, I don't remember the last time I've downloaded a 170MB patch from Windows Update that wasn't a Service Pack or a new app," said "Entegy" in a comment on Sinofsky's blog.

"Holy crap, this Windows 8 update today is 170MB. I think it's awesome they are doing this but I feel like an iTunes user," said blogger Robert McLaws on Twitter Tuesday, making fun of Apple's notoriously-huge updates for the music software and App Store.

A list of the updates issued Tuesday for Windows 8 and Windows RT can be found in this Microsoft support document.



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