Beginning on 11 October, 2016, Microsoft will no longer be offering updates as individual packages to fix specific items. Instead, Microsoft will be creating what it calls digest updates. These digests are not just the individual patches, zipped up into one file, but instead one big file with all of the updates intertwined. They cannot be separated and tested independently. They cannot be individually blacklisted or whitelisted. In short, Microsoft is setting a universal patch standard, and is insisting that all Windows 7, 8, and 10 computers be brought up to a single level of patching.
Microsoft is doing this for several reasons, but the reason given most often for this change is a phenomenon called fragmentation. Because not everybody follows the same patching processes, and some sites have had to blacklist patches for compatibility’s sake, there is an almost infinite number of patch levels and version numbers for software out in the wild.
By using digests, Microsoft is forcing almost all computers in the wild to come up to the same level of current patching. There are some benefits to this approach, but there will almost certainly be some growing pains associated with this change.
At RJ PRO, there is nothing we can do to change how Microsoft releases patches. We can, however, still control when they get applied. Our management agent will still allow us to set specific times for the patches to be installed. Our management agent will allow us to delay the implementation of patches.
In the short term, RJ PRO will ensure we have staff on standby to ensure that the patching process is as painless as possible. We will also work with our customers to remediate any issues that arise from the digest updates as quickly and efficiently as possible. We will continue to diligently work to Make IT Simple.