In the latest sign that Microsoft actually does listen to its customers, if belatedly, the software giant revealed on Tuesday that it will dramatically simplify the process of updating its legacy Windows 7 and 8.1 operating systems. Best of all, Microsoft will deliver what is essentially a second service pack for Windows 7, the Windows 7 SP1 convenience rollup.
“While we’ve spent a lot of time over the past year talking about Windows 10 (including new roadmap details), we know that organizations are still working with Windows 7 too, regularly updating their Windows 7 SP1 images to include the latest updates, app versions, and more,” Microsoft’s Nathan Mercer notes.
The Windows 7 SP1 convenience rollup is exactly what Windows 7 users have been asking for, for years: All the security and non-security fixes that Microsoft has released for Windows 7 since the release of Service Pack 1 (SP1). “Install this one update,” Mercer says, “and then you only need new updates released after April 2016.”
What a concept. And. What the f@#k took so long? Windows 7 SP1 shipped way back in February 2011, and was the last (and only) major update to that OS. Since then, Microsoft has delivered several hundred updates for Windows 7, and anyone clean installing Windows 7 today needs to spend an entire day installing those updates across multiple reboots. It’s an arduous and completely unnecessary process.
And now it’s over. Finally.
But wait, there’s more good news: The Windows 7 SP1 convenience rollup can also be injected—read: slipstreamed—into the Windows 7 SP1 install media, meaning that you can install Windows 7, SP1, andthe convenience rollup at the same time, saving literally a day of additional installs. You can learn more about slipstreaming the convenience rollup into Windows 7 SP1 install media at the Microsoft web site.
Curiously, the Windows 7 SP1 convenience rollup will not be made available via Windows Update. Instead, you must download it manually from Microsoft’s Windows Update Catalog and install it as a standalone update. Then, you can visit Windows Update to install any additional updates. (You must install the April 2015 servicing stack update for Windows 7 first.)
OK, so what about Windows 8.1 users? Here, the news isn’t quite as good: Microsoft is not offering a similar rollup package to this newer OS, so may still need to install numerous updates via Windows Update if you clean install Windows 8.1
That said, things are still getting better: Non-security updates for Windows 8.1 (as well as Windows 7 SP1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2012 and Windows Server 2012 R2) will now be available as a monthly rollup. That means that all existing fixes will be rolled up together into a single update that is more easily installable. And going forward, Microsoft will release a single update each month that contains all of the non-security fixes for that month.
“These fixes will be available through Windows Update, WSUS, and SCCM as well as the Microsoft Update catalog,” Mercer adds. “We hope this monthly rollup update simplifies your process of keeping Windows 7, and 8.1 up-to-date.”
While I wish that Microsoft would afford Windows 8/8.1 the same level of updating support it is affording Windows 7 (with SP1), it’s hard to not just applaud this move. Updating Windows 7 is a fricking disaster, and this should really help. I’ll bring up some Windows 7 PCs this week to make sure that’s the case.