Microsoft Releases Almost Last Windows Updates

Question: When is an update not an update? Answer: When Microsoft says so.

If that seems a bit cryptic, consider this. Microsoft is releasing a number of updates to its Windows 8.1 operating system and Windows Server 2012 R2, but you’re not supposed to call them updates.

The thinking is simple. From here on, Microsoft will no longer be holding onto improvements and waiting for a major upgrade to release those updates, as it did in April with Windows 8.1. Instead, improvements will be released as they become available.

What to Expect

The new improvements to Windows 8.1, which will be released Aug.12, are interesting but nowhere near as important as the ones released four months ago. According to the Windows blog, what’s coming next week include:

  • Tighter SharePoint Online Integration, along with fewer login prompts  to get into SharePoint Online sites.
  • Precision touchpad improvements.Three new end-user settings have been added: Leave touch pad on when a mouse is connected; allow right-clicks on the touchpad; double-tap and drag.
  • Miracast Receive support in the form of Wi-Fi API updates for external developers

The real story is the way the improvements are being fast tracked. At the time of the Windows 8.1 upgrade in April, Microsoft announced it would be making its update schedule more responsive to customer feedback. The blog explains:

In April, we released a bigger, more comprehensive package of improvements to Windows 8.1 called the Windows 8.1 Update. We did the same for Server too, with Windows Server 2012 R2 Update. As we said at the time, our goal is to continue to deliver improvements to Windows through regular updates in order to respond more quickly to customer and partner feedback. After all, we already have a regular monthly update process that includes security and non-security updates."

Brand, Spanking New Microsoft?

If this sounds familiar, then think back to the when Nadella took over as CEO. One of the promises he made was to make Microsoft a lot more responsive to the way users use Microsoft products, as well as user needs.

In fairness to Nadella, things really are changing.

We now have, for example, Office for iPad. There had been rumors for months that this was ready but Microsoft wouldn’t release it for fear of damaging its Office business.

We now also have a roadmap for Office 365, with targets and approximate dates set out. This will be updated every six months or so. We have Nadella’s stated focus on cloud and mobile, which necessarily require faster market response times.

Now we have the release of Windows improvements not once or even twice a year, but when they are available and needed. The blog continues:

Rather than waiting for months and bundling together a bunch of improvements into a larger update as we did for the Windows 8.1 Update, customers can expect that we’ll use our already existing monthly update process to deliver more frequent improvements along with the security updates normally provided as part of 'Update Tuesday.' So despite rumors and speculation, we are not planning to deliver a Windows 8.1 'Update 2.'"

For users, this is all points to a more positive, proactive and agile Microsoft — the kind of Microsoft that business users have been talking about for years. There’s a long way to go, but the first few months with Nadella have been positive.