We’ve been talking quite a bit about the Windows 8.1 Update that was released last week by Microsoft. By most accounts it has been received as successful by consumers. The Windows 8.1 Update was designed to make life easier for mouse and keyboard users by bringing back familiar features from Windows 7. One of the customer groups Microsoft was obviously concerned about was business users who were hesitant to move to Windows 8 or 8.1.
Unfortunately for Microsoft and its existing Windows 8.1 business customers the update did not go that smoothly. For those business customers who had already moved to Windows 8.1 and were seeking to upgrade via the Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) there was a glitch. That required Microsoft to halt the upgrade process through that channel. Microsoft corrected the problems it announced today.
With today’s release of a solution that resolves the connectivity issues with WSUS 3.2 described here, we have now published the Windows 8.1 Update (as well as the Windows Server 2012 R2 Update and Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry Update) to Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).
For organizations using WSUS, Windows Intune, or System Center Configuration Manager for updating their Windows 8.1 computers, this means that you can now easily deploy these updates to the computers or servers you manage.
But, along with news of the update last week came somewhat shocking word of a mandated deadline to install the new update. Microsoft is requiring users of Windows 8.1 update to pull the trigger on upgrading their machines by the next Patch Tuesday, May 13th. If not, those users would be cut off from receiving security updates going forward until those machines were updated.
Quite a few folks were angered or put off by that demand. Given how upgrades to operating systems have a history of causing problems in some instances, many users like to wait and see how updates roll out among other users before deciding to upgrade. While some users will rush to upgrade, for some taking their time is a habit that’s hard to break. Especially if they’ve been bitten in the past.
But given that business users were cut out of the loop by Microsoft when it pulled the plug on that WSUS update process, the impending deadline seemed not just onerous, but also hastily contrived.
In a blog post this morning, Microsoft not only announced a solution to the Windows Server Update Services issue that should allow business users to get back to upgrading, but also an extension of the timeline within which business users can take to update. Business customers will now have until August 12 to complete the upgrade. That deadline extension also applies to Windows Server 2012 R2 Update and Windows Embedded 8.1 Update customers as well.
But on the consumer side of things, you still have only a few weeks remaining to perform the upgrade before being left out in the cold as far as security updates are concerned.
For our consumer customers, the Windows 8.1 Update is a required update to keep Windows 8.1 devices current. It will need to be installed to receive new updates from Windows Update starting on May 13th. The vast majority of these customers already have Automatic Update turned on, so they don’t need to be concerned since the update will simply install in the background prior to May 13th. For customers managing updates on their devices manually who haven’t installed the Windows 8.1 Update prior to May 13th, moving forward they will only see the option to install the Windows 8.1 Update in Windows Update. No new updates will be visible to them until they install the Windows 8.1 Update.
What makes the situation a little more confusing is the fact that Windows 8 users, or those who did not upgraded to Windows 8.1, have until January 12, 2016 to perform the upgrade. It’s obvious that Microsoft wants to see as many users as possible on Windows 8.1 update, which, even with the new features for mouse and keyboard users, was positioned as a security update. But it does beg the question: why the rush?
The Windows 8.1 Update does indeed bring new features, or rather a new look to some traditional features, for mouse and keyboard users. The idea is to make those who were not so enamored of the radical new look and touch centric user experience in Windows 8 feel more comfortable by bringing some familiar behavior back to the experience.
For Windows Tablet users many of the changes don’t appear, unless they are working with a keyboard and mouse attached.
But given that the update was positioned as a security update, in addition to the new features, it does follow the pattern that any new update with the word security in it should impress a sense of urgency into users’ minds. So, within the next few weeks it looks like consumers, hesitant or not, have no choice but to accept the mandate to update Windows 8.1.
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