Microsoft Outlines New Schedule for Optional Nonsecurity Windows Updates

Microsoft this week announced plans to shift the schedule for when it releases its optional nonsecurity patch previews for Windows systems.

The optional Windows nonsecurity patch releases typically had been released during the third week ("C week") or the fourth week (''D week") of each month. Starting next month, though, these patches will just arrive in the fourth week of the month.

This minor scheduling change was explained as giving IT organizations two weeks to try the preview before Microsoft delivers it as a more polished release in the next month on "update Tuesday," the second Tuesday of each month, which Microsoft labels as "B week." These B-week update releases are also known as the "latest cumulative updates" (LCUs), and they contain both quality and security patches.

Two Weeks To Test
The new patch release schedule change for optional nonsecurity patch releases -- described as optimizing the testing, update and upgrade experience -- will commence next month.

Here's Microsoft's characterization of the change:

Starting in April 2023, we now target optional non-security preview releases for the fourth week of the month. We have found this to be the optimal time for us to publish and for you to consume these updates. That's two weeks after your latest monthly security update and about two weeks before you'll see these features become part of the next mandatory cumulative update. We're excited for this improvement as it is meant to optimize the validation of payloads, improve consistency, and enhance the predictability of your testing, update, and upgrade experience.

The optional nonsecurity updates only will be available for users of the "most recent supported versions of Windows." Currently, those versions include "Windows 10, version 22H2 and Windows 11, versions 21H2 and 22H2."

'Continuous Innovation' Preview Releases for Windows 11
Microsoft also explained that it may add new "continuous innovation" experiences (new Windows 11 features deemed nondisruptive by Microsoft) in these optional nonsecurity preview releases that will be released in the fourth week of each month.

"[Continuous innovation] experiences may be introduced in an optional non-security preview release prior to being made available broadly via a monthly security update or via Controlled Feature Rollout (CFR) technology," the announcement indicated.

The CFR aspect wasn't explained, although it gets used with updates to the Microsoft Edge browser, as well as to Windows Insider Program test releases. According to a description in this Microsoft document, "Controlled Feature Rollout (CFR) is a procedure for slowly increasing the size of the user group that receives a feature."

The continuous innovation for Windows 11 version 22H2 (sometimes referred to as "moments" releases) are new features that can arrive on patch Tuesdays. Microsoft now releases new Windows 11 features potentially on a monthly basis, if the features are deemed ready. Organizations generally don't get these new features by default, but that's not always the case, as Microsoft may decide to include new features if it deems them not to be nondisruptive. Organizations have so-called "commercial control" over the arrival of these new features releases, Microsoft has indicated.

Microsoft's first continuous innovation release for Windows 11 version 22H2 happened back in November. The second such release happened on March 14.

The continuous innovation releases just occur for Windows 11 machines, starting with version 22H2. The optional nonsecurity preview schedule shift appears to apply to both Windows 10 and Windows 11 machines.

Microsoft didn't explain what now will get released on C weeks, given the new scheduling shift. C weeks used to be reserved for testing monthly quality updates for older Windows systems, per an old description.

About the Author

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


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