Microsoft pours out the patches as Windows 10 nears release

Microsoft has been banging the Windows 10 patch drum almost daily as it prepares for Wednesday's launch.

In the last seven days, Microsoft has pushed four security updates to build 10240, the final served to members of Windows Insider before the July 29 release. Insider is the beta program Microsoft's run since October 2014 for the new OS.

Three of the four -- delivered on July 23, 24 and 25 in separate updates -- offered identical descriptions of their contents.

According to KB3074679 (for the July 23 update), KB3074680 (July 24) and KB3074681 (July 25), the trio addresses MS15-078, the "out-of-band" emergency update Microsoft first served up July 20 with yet another update marker, KB3074667.

Microsoft tags each update with a KB number -- for "knowledge base" -- and uses that to identify the accompanying support document.

Also included in the three updates was a patch for Adobe's Flash Player, which is embedded in both the Edge and Internet Explorer 11 (IE11) browsers bundled with Windows 10. Adobe last fixed critical vulnerabilities in Flash on July 14.

All three also included the phrase, "Additionally, this update includes non-security-related changes to enhance the functionality of Windows 10 through new features and improvements."

It's unclear why Microsoft re-released the update multiple times: The official bulletin for MS15-078 has not changed or been revised since its original release last week, although Windows 10 was not included in the affected software list, normal Microsoft practice for unfinished code.

Microsoft's cryptic descriptions of Windows 10 updates, and its new habit of bundling security updates with non-security feature enhancements for Insiders, have attracted attention, and not in a good way.

The KB documents' lack of specificity -- the most glaring omission is why what appears to be the same update was issued three times -- was, however, part and parcel of a terser Microsoft: Security updates and bug fixes for other editions of Windows have also become concise to the point of brusqueness.

And the most recent Windows 10 update, Saturday's KB3074681, has broken the uninstall option available via the traditional Windows Control Panel, according to reports on the Windows 10 feedback app and elsewhere on the Web. Attempting to uninstall a program from the Control Panel crashes Explorer, the OS's file manager.

A fix for the crash is in the works, Gabriel Aul, engineering general manager for Microsoft's OS group, said on Sunday. "Fix is coming. In the meantime, use modern settings to uninstall (settings -> system -> apps & features)," Aul tweeted.

Assuming Microsoft quashes the bug before Windows 10 reaches non-Insider customers, the preview program will have worked as intended. Microsoft will continue distributing betas to the several million users running Windows 10's Insider "branch," or update track, in large part because it will use participants as the first group of testers and bug finders, releasing updates to the general population only after it's confident it's addressed the most glaring problems fingered by Insiders.

Microsoft is to push the completed build of Windows 10 to Insiders on July 29, then later begin triggering upgrade notices on PCs running Windows 7 or 8.1 whose owners earlier "reserved" copies under a one-year free offer.


Gregg Keizer

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