Hotpatch Desktop Now Commercially Available for Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure Edition
Microsoft announced this week that its Hotpatch feature now works with the "Desktop Experience" deployment option for "Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition on Azure and Azure Stack HCI."
Desktop Experience deployment support for Hotpatch is now at the "general availability" commercial-release stage for those two products. Previously, this capability was at the preview stage back in April. Hotpatch already worked with the Server Core "headless" installation option as the default approach, but now it's cleared for use in production environments when a graphical user interface ("Desktop Experience") gets used.
The idea behind Hotpatch is that can save organizations responsible for updating virtual machines the headaches of having to endure system reboots after applying patches. Hotpatch accomplishes this feat by applying the patch in memory, which doesn't affect running processes.
"Early adopters [of Hotpatch] have reported being able to update their VMs within a couple of days as compared to previously taking weeks," the announcement noted.
IT pros can see the Hotpatch status for Azure virtual machines via the "VM Overview" within the Azure Portal. Setup instructions for Hotpatch on Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure Edition can be found in this Microsoft Tech Community post.
Hotpatch may seem like an IT dream come true, but it has limitations. The grim details are explained in this July 18 Microsoft Learn document.
Hotpatch Is for Azure Virtual Machines Only
Hotpatch is just for use on Azure virtual machines. Also, Hotpatch is just available for customers using either the Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition on Azure product or the Azure Stack HCI product.
Moreover, the use of Hotpatch with the Desktop Experience entails having to use new OS images for Windows Server 2022 Datacenter Azure Edition, where Hotpatch gets enabled by default. Hotpatch does not work with previously installed Desktop Experience images.
IT pros maintaining Windows Server 2022 on their organization's premises are out of luck, as they don't get Hotpatch use at all.
Hotpatch Is for Security Updates Only
Hotpatch only applies security updates. These updates are "about 10x smaller" and so they "install faster."
Other updates may involve a reboot, and Hotpatch does not pertain in those cases. Updates that Hotpatch doesn't handle include "nonsecurity updates released for Windows, .NET updates and non-Windows updates (such as drivers, firmware update etc.)," the Microsoft Learn document explained.
Organizations using the Windows Server 2022 Datacenter: Azure Edition on Azure product or the Azure Stack HCI product just get reboot reprieves for security updates in the two months between baseline Cumulative Updates, which do require a reboot. Baseline Cumulative Updates get released at the start of every quarter, but Microsoft could release unplanned baselines that will require reboots, too.
The Microsoft Learn document includes an illustration showing the approximate timeline for baseline Cumulative Update releases and Hotpatch releases. The document described Hotpatch as being "an extension of Windows Update and typical orchestration processes."
Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.