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Dec112018

Microsoft Releases Last Patch Tuesday of 2018

Being second Tuesday of the month, it’s time again when Microsoft releases updates a.k.a Patch Tuesday for all supported Windows.

Here’s what it got fixed in the last update of 2018::

  • Addresses an issue that may prevent the use of the Seek Bar in Windows Media Player when playing specific files. This issue does not affect normal playback.
  • Security updates to Microsoft Graphics Component, Windows Storage and Filesystems, Windows Wireless Networking, Windows Kernel, and Internet Explorer.

For Windows 7 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Microsoft has rolled out KB4471318, which can be manually downloaded over here.

There’s also a known issue to be aware of in this one:

SymptomWorkaround
After you apply this update, the network interface controller may stop working on some client software configurations. This occurs because of an issue related to a missing file, oem.inf. The exact problematic configurations are currently unknown.
  1. To locate the network device, launch devmgmt.msc. It may appear under Other Devices.
  2. To automatically rediscover the NIC and install drivers, select Scan for Hardware Changes from the Action menu.
    • Alternatively, install the drivers for the network device by right-clicking the device and choosing Update. Then choose Search automatically for updated driver software or Browse my computer for driver software.

KB4471328 can be downloaded here.

For Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2, KB4471320 can be manually downloaded over here.

While KB4471322 can be downloaded over here.

Windows Server 2012 users will get KB4471330, manually downloadable here.

KB4471326 can get here.

Microsoft also has provided an overview of the Windows’ monthly security and quality updates and how it delivers these critical updates on a massive scale as part of their “Windows as a service” effort.

Quality and Security at Massive Scale

Microsoft notes that each month more than “one billion” devices including desktops, IoT devices and Servers gets updated.

Adding it said, during the peak times they provide updates to 1,000 plus devices per second.

It helps them deliver the latest security and quality improvements to hundreds of millions of customers.

The monthly Windows updates also consist of “quality” and “reliability” fixes based on user feedback as well as data monitored by the company.

The update is provided to various versions and editions of Windows ranging from the most current versions of Windows 10 to end-of-support versions like Windows XP which are currently on “custom support agreements.”

Types of Monthly Updates

Microsoft exaplains Windows 10 quality updates, are basically cumulative that contains all “previously” released fixes.

These updates get published on every second Tuesday of each month at 10:00 a.m. Pacific time, known as the “B” release or “Patch Tuesday” or “Update Tuesday.”

In addition to “B” optional updates (or preview releases) respectively known as “C” and “D” releases on the third and fourth weeks of the month.

These updates have only non-security fixes and are intended for commercial customers and advanced users “seeking” updates.

“The “D” release has proven popular for those “seeking” to validate the non-security content of the next “B” release.”

To access the “C” and “D” releases, users can navigate to Settings -> Update & Security -> Windows Update, the click on “Check for updates” box.

Additionally, on-demand releases which are not tied to any standard release cycle are used mostly where an issue is detected and needs an immediate update to either fix security vulnerabilities or to solve a quality issue impacting multiple devices.

Update Quality Validation

The following activities are involved in building and validating both feature and monthly updates:

  • Pre-release Validation Program (PVP) flights updates are designed to catch problems early before shipping to in-market customers.
  • Depth Test Pass (DTP) targets only specific areas to ensure the reported issue is indeed fixed by automated or manual testing.
  • Monthly Test Pass (MTP) ensure application and hardware compatibility by utilizing broad suites of regression tests. It leverages both internal and external testing labs with global coverage with tens of thousands of diverse devices.
  • Windows Insider Program (WIP) is a flighting mode that pushes non-security fixes to Windows Insider Release Preview Ring to obtain feedback and diagnostics.
  • Security Update Validation Program (SUVP), an invitation-only program directed to large commercial customers and ISVs, who validates security fixes in their labs prior to “B” release.
  • Regular compatibility and validation testing with other Microsoft product teams including Azure, Office and SQL Server.

Each release is documented in the accompanying knowledge base (KB) support article.

Microsoft explains it monitors a wide array of feedback signals to ensure users having a good update experience.

These feedback signals include:

  • Live Site Validation Testing (LSVT) within minutes of the update going live to validate that the release is available on Windows Update and is successfully downloading and installing on devices scanning for new updates.
  • Active monitoring of customer support and feedback channels for any user-reported issues.
  • Social media and forums monitoring augmented with machine learning (ML) to quickly detect problems and facilitate remediation of issues.
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