Microsoft Ends Easy Fix Service and Blocks Hotfix Service for Windows
Microsoft killed its Easy Fix service for Windows systems last month, and this month appeared to be ending the Microsoft Hotfix Service.
The Microsoft Easy Fix service was perhaps better known by its former "Fix It" name, offering an automated patch to address specific Windows operating system issues. Easy Fix is no more, according to a Microsoft support article dated Oct. 2, 2018. The support article stated that "Easy Fix solutions are no longer supported or offered for download." Instead, the article directed users toward the Windows Troubleshooter tool in Windows 10 or the Troubleshooting tool in Windows 7's Control Panel.
The Microsoft Hotfix Service perhaps wasn't conceived popularly as a service. It permitted users to access a single fix from a Knowledge Base article using a link in the article. IT pros likely used the Microsoft Hotfix Service in Knowledge Base articles to address single issues in their Windows environments. However, now any hotfix links found in Knowledge Base articles will direct users to this support article, dated Nov. 2, 2018, entitled, "This hotfix is no longer available." The article further explains that the service is "no longer available":
The Hotfix service is no longer available. Instead you can find your fix or patch by upgrading to the latest update available for your product. You can also obtain Microsoft drivers, software updates, and other support files by downloading them from the Microsoft Catalog, the Microsoft Download Center, or upgrade to Windows 10. Windows 10 contains the most up-to-date security and other features built right in.
In other words, individuals can still hunt for a hotfix within the Microsoft Update Catalog or get it from the Microsoft Download Center, but links aren't available within Knowledge Base articles anymore. However, if users visit the Microsoft Download Center link above, they'll be directed back to the Microsoft Update Catalog via the following message:
Looking for updates to Windows? As of November 2016, Microsoft Windows Updates are now available for download from the Microsoft Update Catalog only. As always, all updates will still be available via WSUS, SCCM, and Windows Update -- this change is only for manual downloads.
The apparently unannounced Microsoft Hotfix Service change was noted Monday in this ghacks.net article by Martin Brinkmann. There's apparently been no public announcement by Microsoft regarding the change.
The change isn't exactly surprising since Microsoft has suggested previously that individuals and organizations should stop trying to apply individual patches to Windows systems on an ad hoc basis. Instead, they should apply "cumulative updates," where the patches arriving each month contain all prior Windows fixes. This cumulative update model was first introduced in Windows 10. Later, in October 2016, Microsoft extended the cumulative update model to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Back then, Microsoft had argued that the practice of applying patches as needed had just resulted in a state of Windows update fragmentation for both individuals and organizations that was problematic.
A hotfix, in past Microsoft formulations, was a software fix for a particular problem its customers had faced. Microsoft still uses the "hotfix" term in its "Standard Terminology" document, although it isn't individually defined.
Microsoft's hotfixes, as listed in the Microsoft Update Catalog, were last released on Aug. 12, 2014, for Windows 8/8.1 and Windows Server 2012/R2, so Microsoft apparently long ago stopped issuing them.
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.