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Microsoft Resumes Monthly Optional Cumulative Updates for Windows Systems

Microsoft this week announced a few sundry news bits for IT pros maintaining Windows and Microsoft 365 environments.

Notably, monthly optional cumulative updates (CUs) for Windows systems are now resuming. Also, IT pros can now customize notices to end users about newly arriving Office 365 features. A new Microsoft 365 Groups forum to get help will be coming. Lastly, Microsoft's budding Universal Print service just got a new PowerShell module to help with automating tasks.

Monthly Optional CUs Now Resumed
Microsoft on Wednesday announced plans to resume releasing optional monthly cumulative updates (CUs) for Windows 10 and Windows Server.

The optional monthly CUs for Windows systems, which get released in the third ("C") and fourth ("D") weeks of each month, were suspended by Microsoft last month. Microsoft had explained the suspension back in March as being needed due to COVID-19 public health disruptions, plus its team needed to focus on getting out Windows security patches.

Microsoft also plans to use the "preview" word with these optional monthly CUs for greater clarity. This name change will be reflected for all Windows 10 optional CUs, as well as optional CUs for Windows Server version 1809 and newer products. The optional previews will only be delivered in the C week (the third week of each month), Microsoft added.

Users of Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) to carry out monthly patching won't see these C-week previews, Microsoft promised. While Microsoft didn't specify why it had made that change, it seems WSUS may have been set to automatically approve the installation of these C-week releases, even though they are intended for testing.

Almost two years ago, Microsoft explained its monthly CU patch approach, in which quality and security-only patches get released. The explanations have shifted over the years.

The CU patches are said to bring no new features, and they are "cumulative," meaning they contain past fixes. Microsoft refers to its CU release times during the month with letters, with "A" for the first week, "B" for the second week, et cetera. Supposedly, nothing gets delivered during A week.

B week, though, has been considered to be the main event for IT pros. It's known as "update Tuesday" -- the second Tuesday of each month -- which is when Microsoft delivers its security patches to address known issues.

The C and D weeks were deemed by Microsoft to be a period for IT pros to test CUs that were to arrive in the next month. They were optional to deploy, and also were sometimes called "previews" by Microsoft.

Microsoft's announcement was received fairly positively in the PatchManagement.org forum (sign-up required). They generally noted that the preview label simplification had been suggested by patching pros years ago, but Microsoft only now got around to making the change.

Troubles with June CUs
Meanwhile, IT pros may have busy with printer problems that occurred after installing June 9 (update Tuesday) patches for Windows 10, Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 machines. Microsoft released an "out-of-band" (outside of its scheduled release cycle) fix for the issue on June 16.

IT pros can find a list of Knowledge Base articles on the printer issue for each affected Windows version at Microsoft's Message Center page.

Troubles with May 2020 Windows Feature Update?
Reports compiled by Born's Tech and Windows World suggested this week that there may be Storage Spaces problems associated with the May 2020 feature update to Windows 10 (version 2004) as well as the Windows Server feature update.

Also, Windows 10 version 2004 machines possibly may be getting too frequent solid-state drive defragmentation operations, which also "trims non-SSD drives," according to another article by Born's Tech and Windows World.

It's unclear how extensive these problems may be. They aren't shown as known issues at Microsoft's Message Center page.

New in Office Notifications
Microsoft announced this week that a new notification process called "What's New in Office Apps," which is used to announce new Microsoft 365 features to end users, is now available in the Microsoft 365 Admin Center management portal. It's available there now in the portal for IT pros to customize the notices via so-called "cards," although the capability was said to have reached "general availability" commercial release back in February.

With the What's New in Office Apps capability, IT pros with "Global admin or Office Apps admin" roles can monitor Microsoft 365 feature releases and decide which features end users should see in a notice. End users get a short description of the feature, including a video or picture, plus help on using it.

Microsoft 365 Groups Forum
Microsoft had previously announced back in April that Office 365 Groups would be renamed as "Microsoft 365 Groups." It's just a name change and not a change in functionality. The name swap is expected to appear "over the next couple of quarters" to subscribers.

Following on that change, Microsoft this week gave notice that its Microsoft Tech Community forum will be getting a new "Microsoft 365 Groups" addition, which will replace the current Office 365 Groups forum. The forum change is expected to happen "on June 30, 2020." Members of the Office 365 Groups forum will get redirected to the new forum by that time.

PowerShell Module for Universal Print
Universal Print is Microsoft's cloud-based approach for controlling user access to printers, without having to maintain print drivers. It's currently at the private preview release stage.

This week, Microsoft announced the availability of a new PowerShell module for Universal Print, which works with PowerShell 5.0 (or greater) using Windows 10 version 1903 (or newer).

The PowerShell module for Universal Print will help IT pros automate repetitive tasks. It also helps solve a current limitation where "you cannot unregister a Connector," the announcement indicated.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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