Patch Tuesday today, Windows 10 Upgrade Day on Thursday

Microsoft will patch Windows 10 today, but wait until Thursday to release the first feature upgrade for the OS, a security expert bet Monday.

Chris Geottl of Shavlik expects Microsoft to roll out its November security fixes today on the month's regularly-scheduled Patch Tuesday, but wait two days before starting to push Windows 10's first feature and functionality upgrade to customers.

"On Patch Tuesday, the CB [Current Branch] and CBB [Current Branch for Business] customers will get a cumulative update which will include all the Patch Tuesday updates, and on Thursday we expect to see the 'Fall Update' released post-Patch Tuesday," said Geottl in an email. "That is when much of the non-security updates release and we are anticipating the [Fall Update] releasing there."

"Fall Update" is the moniker most pundits expect Microsoft to use for the feature upgrade.

CB and CBB are the two mainstream feature upgrade tracks that Microsoft maintains for Windows 10, the new OS that is to be refreshed regularly with new features and changes to the user experience (UX) and even user interface (UI).

While Microsoft has a new tendency to scatter its updates across both the calendar and the work week, Geottl had a point about Thursdays: Of the 11 days in October on which Microsoft issued updates of one kind or another, it did so on three Thursdays and three Tuesdays, the most popular days of the week. Two of the three Thursday updates contained only non-security content, while the third included not only several non-security bug fixes but also two security-related updates for Internet Explorer (IE) in Windows 10 and the OS's default browser, Edge.

Geottl had a theory about the two-day delay between Patch Tuesday and the Fall Update. "I think it's like a version's end of life," he said in an interview Monday, referring to the date when Microsoft stops supporting software, like an edition of Windows or Office. "Microsoft gives it one final Patch Tuesday. They're giving one more Patch Tuesday to this branch [of Windows 10]."

Microsoft does exactly that: Even as it retired Windows XP on April 14, 2014 -- that month's Patch Tuesday -- it issued one last set of security fixes on that date, giving the aged operating system a final 30 days of protection against known vulnerabilities. Like a retired OS, Windows 10's original July version will very soon be obsolete and drop off support, including security patches.

If Geottl is right, Windows 10 users on the Current Branch -- the one assigned to all Windows 10 Home devices -- will receive a pair of updates within just three days this week. The Fall Update will be the larger of the two by far.

Build 10586, which was issued to Insider preview participants last Thursday, will be promoted to Fall Update, according to multiple clues in the OS. Not only was that build missing an identifying watermark -- an omission Microsoft deliberately made in July just prior to the launch of Windows 10 -- but it identified itself as Version 1511, as in 15 for the year and 11 for the month. That same syntax is being used by Microsoft to brand other regularly-refreshed software on accelerated release tempos, such as System Center Configuration Manager.

The minutiae of the Fall Update's release may be important as customers try to puzzle out the radically-revamped practices for Windows 10's servicing, including signals of an impending upgrade the next cycle. But the true test will be whether the roll-out goes smoothly. Windows 10 Fall Update will be the first expansive test of the operating system's maintenance mechanism, and with more than 132 million devices now running the OS, much more of an infrastructure stress test than July's debut, when only a fraction of that number queued for the code.

This will also be the first opportunity for Microsoft to prove that it can deliver on its promises that the Windows 10 upgrades have been thoroughly tested by Insiders and can deploy to a large number of devices in a relatively short amount of time with minimal user intervention.

"We will see how it goes," said Geottl.


Gregg Keizer

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