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Beginning Of The End For Patch Tuesday

Starting with Windows 10, Microsoft will introduce Windows Update for Business, issuing patches as they're available, instead of once a month.

It's the beginning of the end for the Patch Tuesday era. Microsoft announced this week at its Ignite event that beginning with the forthcoming Windows 10 operating system, individual security updates would be released as soon as they were available, instead of in a big collection once a month.   

Patch Tuesday has been a standard part of the security department's rhythm for 12 years. Long before the record-breaking 64-vulnerability Patch Tuesday in April 2011, and the 66-vulnerability Tuesday in June 2014, which included 59 holes in Internet Explorer alone. Before Microsoft stopped supporting Windows XP in April 2014, and released an out-of-band fix for XP just a few weeks later. 

No more frenetic scrambling to deploy a stack of critical updates at the same time. No more burgeoning dread that attackers are already exploiting a vulnerability that you won't know about or get a patch for until the second Tuesday of the following month: At least that's the goal of the new Windows Update for Business.

The patches will be available sooner, but administrators still decide when and how to deploy them; Windows Update for Business provides some new tools to help do that. Admins can prioritize which client machines get updated first and set maintenance windows to determine when updates should and should not take place.

Update for Business integrates with System Center and Enterprise Mobility Suite. It also offers peer-to-peer delivery to make the patching process for remote offices more efficient. 

"Windows 10 follows the path first taken by the smartphone sector where iPhones, Androids, and Windows phones were pioneered to receive updates as soon as they become available," says Qualys CTO Wolfgang Kandek. "This strategy has worked out exceptionally well, as we generally see smartphone malware infections under 0.75 percent – 0.03 percent in the recent Verizon Data Breach Investigation Report.  

"Together with making Windows 10 widely and freely available," says Kandek, "this is an excellent move by Microsoft to increase security on the Internet."


Sara Peters is Senior Editor at Dark Reading and formerly the editor-in-chief of Enterprise Efficiency. Prior that she was senior editor for the Computer Security Institute, writing and speaking about virtualization, identity management, cybersecurity law, and a myriad ... View Full Bio

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User Rank: Ninja
5/9/2015 | 7:32:46 AM
an old idea that doesn't work
updates only; no version changes?   it's an old idea that doesn't work.  
User Rank: Ninja
5/8/2015 | 8:42:32 PM
Re: Windows 10
Until Microsoft evolves and can match behavior like kpatch and kGraft in the 4.0 Linux kernel then the reboots are a sad necessity for orgs and users that either choose to or have to use Windows systems.  I do my part in encouraging my users and the Enterprise to switch to GNU/Linux where strategically meaningful.
User Rank: Ninja
5/8/2015 | 4:35:02 PM
Windows 10
"Together with making Windows 10 widely and freely available," says Kandek, "this is an excellent move by Microsoft to increase security on the Internet."


I look forward to my free copy of Windows 10.


I also look forward to multiple manditory system reboots required each day whenever a critical patch is deployed.
User Rank: Ninja
5/8/2015 | 4:08:50 PM
Re: It's About Time
Yes, for the Enterprise I would definitely hope nobody is automatically patching a Production system :-)

If you look at the SANS recommendations below (oldie but goodie), at first they look daunting, but you have to remember that you determine the length of each phase: 

  • Phase 1 – Baseline and Harden
  • Phase 2 – Develop a Test Environment
  • Phase 3 – Develop Backout Plan
  • Phase 4 – Patch Evaluation and Collection
  • Phase 5 – Configuration management
  • Phase 6 – Patch Rollout
  • Phase 7 – Maintenance Phase – Procedures and Policies

Within this lifecycle, you will quickly see if for your organization the early-release from Microsoft is of benefit or if your policies ultimately render that as a "may as well not exist" feature.
User Rank: Ninja
5/8/2015 | 3:17:22 PM
Re: It's About Time
To add onto this I would recommend that Automatically Patching, if there is an option, be turned off in Windows 10. Knowing windows I would have to believe they will have an automatic patch function that may.

I am also going to play devils advocate here and say that although its beneficial available patches will be released earlier, is there a downside to a non-stringent patch process? I would posit that apps that have any types of Windows depencies could potentially be rendered unusable as patching looks to close vulnerabilities not focus on functionalities. My overall point is that although its great that patches will be out earlier that they should still be managed. Apply to test machines, have test period to ensure critical applications aren't affected, then push to production.

Security benefit yes but potential functionality issues.
User Rank: Ninja
5/7/2015 | 8:41:07 PM
It's About Time
This is a good thing for those who plan to patch as soon as the update is made available. The sooner exploitable holes are closed (for updates that correct vulnerabilities) the better. In fact, plan on it. Don't wait and suffer the potential risk a regular vendor-scheduled update can pose.

Also, this will be all the better because the whole idea of a "patch Tuesday" advertises the "when" in contrast to the update's release date. The last thing you want is to have a time block advertised that your system is not patched to the latest code fix for any given system flaw.

So, now we know what Windows 10 is doing right... What is it doing wrong?
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