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Microsoft Issues Windows 7 SP1 'Convenience Rollups'

Microsoft today announced the availability of so-called "convenience rollups" for Windows 7 Service Pack 1, as well as Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1.

These optional updates are designed to facilitate new operating system installations. They can save update time by being mounted to a Windows image file (WIM file), as described here. Otherwise, a new install of Windows 7 SP1, for instance, subjects a machine to a long series of updates dating back to the post-Feb. 2011 period, which is when SP1 was released.

Convenience Rollups
A convenience rollup apparently is a new patch term from Microsoft. It was mentioned in an Ignite talk last year, but it wasn't defined. The term isn't listed in Microsoft's somewhat defunct software update glossary. Microsoft's new and more "agile" software delivery approach has largely plowed over traditional patch expectations, including terminology. Update 5/20: Microsoft's premier services and Windows customer experience teams offered their explanation of convenience rollups here, saying that this release is a "one-time" release and that "convenience rollup" is "not a technical term."

Convenience rollups are similar to service packs except that they contain no new features. They contain "all the security and non-security fixes released since the release of Windows 7 SP1 that are suitable for general distribution, up through April 2016," according to Microsoft's announcement.

However, Microsoft did not include Internet Explorer browser updates in these convenience rollups, according to Microsoft's Knowledge Base article on the topic. Those updates can be had by getting "the latest security update" for IE, per the article.

The Knowledge Base article also listed some known issues. Problems can occur with virtualized applications that use Microsoft's App-V 4.5, 4.6 and 5.0 versions when the convenience rollups are applied.

Another important consideration, per Microsoft's Knowledge Base article, is that there are prerequisite installations needed for both server and client. Organizations need to install KB976932 and the April 2015 servicing stack update before using the convenience rollup.

Microsoft isn't pushing its convenience rollups down to machines. IT pros have to go to the Microsoft Update Catalog and get them, if wanted. It's only possible to download files from the Microsoft Update Catalog by using Internet Explorer 6 or later versions.

Microsoft did not announce any Windows 8.1 convenience rollups. It doesn't seem there's a plan to create them.

Update Policy Changes
Microsoft reiterated in its announcement today that it is now publishing its archive of security updates in the Microsoft Update Catalog. They won't be housed in the Microsoft Download Center.

Microsoft's security bulletin links will point users to the Microsoft Update Catalog, not the Microsoft Download Center, according to this new policy.

However, past security updates will continue to be available through management solutions like Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), as well as via Microsoft's Windows Update service.

The Microsoft Update Catalog is one of Microsoft's sites that doesn't seem to using the latest technologies. It still requires ActiveX and Internet Explorer, for instance. Microsoft plans to change those dependencies sometime "later this summer," the announcement stated.

On the nonsecurity update side, Microsoft now plans to issue its nonsecurity updates as monthly rollups for Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, plus Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2. This policy switch is being carried out "to improve the reliability and quality of our updates," the announcement explained.

The monthly nonsecurity rollups still will be arriving to "Windows Update, WSUS, and SCCM as well as the Microsoft Update catalog," the announcement added.

Windows 10 already seems to follow this release model for nonsecurity updates, so it seems that Microsoft is just adopting that policy for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 clients as well.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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