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"Hidden Cumulative Updates" in Windows 10

For the second time in recent experience, word of “hidden cumulative updates” has hit the wires. I’m talking about KB3140742, which is currently available only for download from the Microsoft Update Catalog, where it takes the name “Cumulative Update for Windows 10 Version 1511 (KB3140742).” The previous such item appeared on January 27 as KB3136562 for those running the current branch build, and shared the following characteristics with KB3140742:

  • Not made available via Windows Update (that’s why I call them “hidden”)
  • Only available through the Microsoft Update Catalog
  • Requires manual installation
  • Advertised as a “Critical Update” (…742) or “Security Update” (…173)
  • Some users report occasional problems with manual installation, but most such installs complete successfully

What’s interesting about these hidden cumulative updates is that neither appears in the new, much-ballyhooed Windows 10 Update History listings, in addition to remaining unavailable via the Windows Update service. Thus, it’s not unfair to reason that MS is restricting access to these updates on the one hand, yet permitting them to be (manually) installed on the other. Many Windows watchers have concluded that these items represent a kind of “technical preview” for upcoming updates to the Current Branch release. There may be something to this conclusion, in that the build number that resulted from KB3136562 update was 10586.79, which falls between the previous Patch Tuesday build number of 10586.63 and the following Patch Tuesday build number of 10586.104.

Are Hidden Cumulative Updates Just for Testing or Real Interim Updates?

I’m more than mildly curious to know what’s up with these interim Cumulative Updates to Windows 10. It would be nice to get a statement from Microsoft as to their intended audience and to understand whether their intent in making them somewhat available is to test them or to make new fixes and functions available prior to the next upcoming Patch Tuesday. For those who are likewise curious, I’d suggest staying tuned to either TenForums.com (the “Windows 10 News” forum does a good job of keeping up with these items as they appear), or WindowsReport.com, which follows these items’ releases as part of its regular news coverage.

catalog listing for today's hidden cumulative updates

It’s hard to say if two in a row represents a trend, or a pair of one-off experiments.

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