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Windows 8.1 Update 1 Is NOT Optional

Here’s an interesting note from Michael Hildebrand’s April 7 post to the Ask Premier Field Engineering (PFE) Platforms blog entitled “Exploring Winodws 8.1 Update – Start Screen, Desktop and Other Enhancements” (it occurs far enough down the page that some scrolling may be required to uncover it):

  • Failure to install this Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014 (get busy!)


The details about end of support for Windows 8 are buried on this MS web page.

But wait! There’s more to ponder, thanks to further reporting on this phenom at Neowin by John Callahan (“Windows 8.1 Update is a mandatory update for Windows 8.1 users“). First, he informs us that “…Microsoft has already announced it will stop supporting Windows 8 in the very near future.” Subsequent analysis of various indications and “a new FAQ page” reveals that “the final date for Windows 8 support” (for Windows 8 installations not yet upgraded to 8.1 and subsequent mandatory updates) is January 12, 2016, about 20 months from now (see MS Product Lifecycle Search, product name = Windows 8, where it lists 1/12/2016 as the “Service Pack Support End Date”). That means — for those already running Windows 8 — it will soon be time to get off that version and onto Windows 8.1, and thus also, Windows 8.1 Update 1.

That gets us back to where this blog post started: if you run Windows 8.1 (and if you don’t run it now, you should start running it soon), you will have to install the update that will be bundled with the next Patch Tuesday set of offerings. As the PFE blog post so correctly observes for production business/enterprise installations of Windows 8 or 8.1 where pre-deployment testing and vetting can involve up to three months of work, it is indeed time to “get busy!”  That also means it’s already time to start working through potential issues and gotchas related to that mandatory update, given that any delays in deployment will also delay propagation of upcoming security updates and hotfixes in production Windows environments going forward.

I know what many enterprise desktop admins are thinking as they read this, and chew over the implications: “Good thing we haven’t yet deployed Windows 8 or 8.1 on any (or too many) of our production machines!” Yeah, sure. But with the “Windows lifecycle fact sheet” also reporting that Windows 7 ends mainstream support on January 13, 2015 (end of life/extended support 5 years later), this is not something that enterprises and organizations can willfully ignore forever. Otherwise, they wind up facing the horns of the current Windows XP dilemma: rapid abandonment and forced updates, or expensive extensions beyond the extended support date.

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