One of the banes of my life and that of my customers for many years has been the issue of getting hold of hotfixes. Most hotfixes that Microsoft release are produced, initially, in response to a particular customer request where they really, really need the fix doing. So the product team produces the fix, packages it up and it is then available for other customers. However, because it goes through much less testing cycles than, say, a service pack, we are wary of it becoming too widely distributed and installed "in the hope that it fixes a problem" rather than being installed because the bug concerned is definitely what you are encountering.
So, traditionally (and still, as a rule) you had/have to contact Microsoft supported to get the fix. That way we could track who got the fix so that if a problem was found with it we could follow up with those people, ensure they got the right fix and help them ensure it was really the right fix for them.
In recent times there have been a number of moves to try and make hotfixes more readily available. For several years our Premier customers have been able to download them directly via the special web portal dedicated to them. More lately, a pilot program made some developer related hotfixes available via the "Connect" website. And more recently than that a number of fixes have been posted to the MSDN Code Gallery.
Now it looks like we are experimenting with another way, which I really like the look of. I came across a number of hotfix articles with this new feature; here are some examples:
A hotfix is available to add a new time zone in Venezuela (GMT-4:30) for the year 2007 in Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, and Windows Vista
Graphics performance can be improved in certain multiple-GPU scenarios on a Windows Vista-based computer
Hotfix for Windows XP that adds support for SDHC cards that have a capacity of more than 4 GB
If you take a look at any of these, right at the top you will see this (the red box is my highlight):
When you click through you see a nice list of fix packages available, including the various language versions:
and then at the bottom a form to provide the email address and a captcha field to avoid bot harvesting of hotfixes:
If this is the future of hotfix delivery I like it a lot. It'll be interesting to see how this develops (I'm not involved in this internally - I presume it is some kind of pilot).
What do you think? Wouldn't it be great if all hotfixes were available self-service like this?