To date, Microsoft hasn’t revealed much about the development of patches and updates to Windows 10, a crucial piece of information that has long been the friend of the system administrator. Having access to the changelog for updates to Windows is a very useful resource when trying to troubleshoot a system – in my time fixing computers for businesses and enterprise users, I’ve found that updates and patches rendered by Microsoft can have a devastating effect on systems that aren’t compatible with them. Microsoft has now reneged on this decision, and will start providing patch notes and more detailed update information for users and network administrators. Hooray!
Microsoft’s reason for taking the patch notes away in the past was a mixture of “end users don’t need these” and “we only need to provide this to enterprise users anyway”, despite the fact that the company documents everything in the same way since Windows 95. Back in October 2015, Microsoft executive vice president of Windows and Devices, Terry Myerson, told ZDNet that the company was looking at providing change lists and patch notes to users interested in this information, but didn’t say exactly when this was going to be implemented.
On this month’s Patch Tuesday, Microsoft announced the change in a blog post and posted up a change list for two updates to Windows 10. One of these patches contains cumulative updates for users on Windows 10 Pro that have elected to defer upgrades, while the other is for users in the consumer channel who have been bumped up to version 1511 of Windows 10. In the patch notes, Microsoft tells user what these updates will fix and what issues have been identified, as well as noting what, if any, files will be changed. This is a welcome change in policy, and I hope it gets applied to the updates for Windows 10 Mobile as well.
On a funny note, Microsoft claims to provide a link to an offline installer by saying, “To get the stand-alone package for this update, go to the Microsoft Update Catalog website.” But this doesn’t work, you need Internet Explorer 6 or later to visit it, and Microsoft’s IE11 browser isn’t supported. Better still, if you click on the link to use a new, more modern browser, Microsoft just redirects you to the Microsoft Downloads portal, where you can get everything else but the offline installer for the updates.
Perhaps they still have to fix this oddity, but it’s funny to me that if you want to grab these updates and install them to a PC offline, WSUS Offline is still the best tool for the job.