Windows Embedded OS Down-Level Servicing Model FAQ

We have created this FAQ below to better support our partners seeking embedded-specific details around the down-level OS servicing changes for Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows Server 2012, and Windows Server 2012 R2. Please note that questions 4-8 apply broadly to non-embedded scenarios.

Q1. For embedded partners who don’t have assigned account managers, how can servicing changes be communicated before wide spread announcements?
A1. Since we are following the Windows update model customers who do not have an account manager may review the blog for updates.

Q2. How can offline embedded machines access or download Monthly Rollups?
A2. The same way that they consume updates offline today. The only difference is that they only have to download one update instead of many.

Q3. How will offline embedded machines (often mission critical) be serviced if a Monthly Rollup causes an issue?
A3. We expect MUC offline scenarios to have advanced testing in-house before being released to devices. As such, we don’t anticipate many situations where a rollback is necessary if compatibility checks have already been done on test systems. If a Monthly Rollup happens to cause an offline issue, the customer will need to report the issue to CSS. If a fix is issued, then it would be included in the next relevant update.

Q4. How can machines with size limitations download Monthly Rollups?
A4. We understand that some machines have size limitations. While either the Security Only Update OR the Monthly Rollup is necessary to be covered for critical security fixes for a given month, we recommend installing the Monthly Rollup because each update will only download the new delta fixes (for customers using Windows Update, or WSUS with “express installation files” support enabled). In addition, with new Monthly Rollups superseding those from previous months, disk cleanup will remove the older installed and superseded Monthly Rollups after a certain amount of time (see below Questions for further details). In comparison, the Security Only updates (which are not superseded by the subsequent Security Only update) will continue to reside on disk and not be replaced if any binaries are in multiple updates, which consumes greater space over time. Please note that removal of superseded updates happens automatically on Windows versions equal to or newer than Windows 8. For Windows 7, the user can apply the Task Scheduler to create a recurring task to run the disk cleanup tool.

Starting February 2017, the Security Only update does not include updates for Internet Explorer. With this separation, the Security Only update package size is significantly reduced.

Q5. Can customers skip or uninstall Monthly Rollups?
A5. Customers can choose to not install a given Monthly Rollup, and can uninstall the Monthly Rollup as well. If multiple Monthly Rollups are installed and present on disk, then uninstalling the latest Monthly Rollup would “revert” to the state of the older Monthly Rollup. If no older Monthly Rollups are installed on disk, then uninstalling the latest Monthly Rollup would “revert” to a state with none of the Monthly Rollups present. See below for further details on how older Monthly Rollups can be removed from disk.

Q6. What is the Monthly Rollup disk cleanup process?
A6. Since each new Monthly Rollup supersedes the previous one, disk cleanup will automatically take care of removing older Monthly Rollups from disk over time. On Windows 8 and later versions, a cleanup task will run regularly during the next maintenance window that identifies all installed updates that have been superseded by another installed update. Once 30 days have passed since a particular update has been marked superseded by this cleanup task, that update will be removed from disk on the next task run. The same behavior will apply for the Monthly Rollups, where an older Monthly Rollup will remain on disk for approximately 30 days (may vary by a few days based on maintenance windows) after a newer / superseding Monthly Rollup is installed. Note that once an older Monthly Rollup is removed from disk, it will no longer be a state to “revert” to if uninstalling a newer Monthly Rollup.

Below is an example of this cleanup and uninstallation timing:

    • November 2016 Monthly Rollup is installed on 11/8/2016
    • December 2016 Monthly Rollup is installed on 12/13/2016
      • On the next scheduled run of the cleanup task (assume this happens to run on 12/14/2016), the November 2016 Monthly Rollup is marked as superseded.
    • January 2017 Monthly Rollup is installed on 1/10/2017
      • On the next scheduled run of the cleanup task (assume this happens to run on 1/11/2017), the December 2016 Monthly Rollup is marked as superseded.
      • On 1/13/2017, the November 2016 Monthly Rollup will have been marked superseded for 30 days
      • On the next scheduled run of the cleanup task, November 2016 Monthly Rollup will be removed from disk.
      • The January 2017 and December 2016 Monthly Rollups are still present and installed on the PC, meaning that you can still “revert” to the December 2016 Monthly Rollup state if uninstalling the January 2017 Monthly Rollup.  The November 2016 Monthly Rollup is no longer available as an installed state to “revert”

Note that for Windows 7, this cleanup task does not run automatically. Task Scheduler could be utilized to create a recurring task to run cleanup – otherwise this will not automatically occur. In addition, a user-initiated Windows Update Cleanup using the disk cleanup tool can also be used to remove superseded updates, but please note that this would immediately remove any superseded updates and not follow the 30 day process used by the cleanup task (in Windows 8 and later versions).

Q7. What is the guidance around re-applying Monthly Rollups after enabling Optional Components?
A7. When Windows installs an update, all serviced content is staged for installation, including updates for Optional Components (such as Features and Roles in Server Manager). When an Optional Component is later enabled, the component servicing model will apply the highest available version of the component, which is the latest serviced version. Therefore, Optional Components will be up-to-date based on previously installed updates once they are enabled. Note that this assumes the staged content has not been corrupted, missing, etc., in which case Windows Update would be required to download the repair content. In summary, enabling Optional Components will apply them in the latest serviced state without needing to re-apply the update. Features that are installed via other means (like Features on Demand, apps downloaded outside of Optional Components, etc.) would likely need Windows Update to re-apply the update.

Q8. How can customers assess their optimal update strategy?
A8. Please review “Update strategy choices” on this blog post.

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