In what may be the most important news for ongoing Windows 7 customers since the , Microsoft field engineer Scott Breen has both analyzed the key problem with “Group B” security-only patching in Windows 7, and has promised a solution.

Don’t be put off by the title — .  The underlying message is crucial for Win7 and 8.1 users who aren’t connected to a corporate update manager.

The crux of the matter lies in the way Win7 (and 8.1) users update their machines, starting last October. I divide the patching universe into two hemispheres:

  • Group A is willing to take all of Microsoft’s new telemetry systems, along with potentially useful nonsecurity updates. It installs the Monthly rollup (in Microsoft parlance the “Security Monthly Quality Rollup” patch).
  • Group B doesn’t want any more snooping than absolutely necessary and doesn’t care about improvements like daylight saving time zone changes. But it does want to keep applying security patches. It installs Security-only patches (Microsoft-speak “Security Only Quality Update”).

The key problem arises when Microsoft introduces a bug in a Security-only patch and then fixes that bug in a Monthly Rollup patch. By forcing Security-only updaters to install a non-security rollup, Microsoft effectively bars customers from only installing security patches.

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Says Breen:

This resulted in customers using WSUS or Configuration Manager 2007 being unable to deploy security only updates using the built in software update mechanisms without additional workarounds.

It also threw the Win7 (and 8.1, Server 2008 R2, Server 2012, and Server 2012 R2) patching community into a black hole. Although few people realized it, the was at stake. Many knowledgeable Win7 patchers simply threw in the towel: If Microsoft was going to force them to install the non-security (read: telemetry) patches, they didn’t want any of it. They didn’t sign up for Windows 7 snooping, so they .

I’m very happy to report that Microsoft has acknowledged the error of its ways. Starting this month, Breen says, bugs in Monthly Rollup patches will be fixed in Monthly Rollup patches, and bugs in Security-only patches will be fixed by changing the metadata in those patches.