TECHNOLOGY

MICROSOFT: WINDOWS AUTOPATCH IS COMING

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Microsoft is introducing an automatic Windows, and Office software update service for its corporate customers intended to replace Patch Tuesday.

Microsoft is making Windows Autopatch available to its business customers with E3 and up contracts. Windows Autopatch will launch in July 2022, Microsoft says in an FAQ. The managed service will provide Windows 10 and Windows 11 quality and feature updates for drivers, firmware and Microsoft 365 applications such as Teams, Word, Outlook and Excel.

Enterprises haven’t adopted Windows 11 as quickly as Redmond would like due to Microsoft’s security-focused minimum hardware requirements. Still, the software giant is betting that most enterprises will upgrade their hardware by the end of Windows 10 support in October 2025.

According to a blog post, the autopatch service is tied to Patch Tuesday and is designed to help IT pros do more for less. “This service keeps the Windows and Office software on the registered end devices up to date automatically and at no additional cost. IT administrators can thus gain time and resources to increase the added value. The second Tuesday of every month will be ‘just another Tuesday,'” Microsoft said.

It has perhaps never been more important than today to ensure that the software is up to date. Hackers and ransomware make it imperative to enable multi-factor authentication.

“Security needs to be hardened as new threats emerge. Innovations in hardware and software improve usability and productivity. Businesses must continually respond to stay competitive, improve protection, and optimize performance,” Microsoft said.

The pace of change has created security vulnerabilities that Microsoft believes will catch laggards on the wrong foot.

“A security gap arises when quality updates that protect against new threats are not accepted promptly. A productivity gap arises when feature updates that improve users’ ability to create and collaborate are not rolled out. The larger the gaps become, the more effort is required to catch up,” says Microsoft.

For Windows Autopatch to work, customers must have Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), Microsoft’s Intune mobile device management service and use supported versions of Windows 10 and 11.

Microsoft notes that Autopatch does not require any specific hardware, but the hardware requirements for Windows 11 still apply.

The company will first roll out the updates to a small group of devices before rolling them out to other devices. The approach sounds like gradually rolling out Windows 10 based on Microsoft’s machine learning analysis of hardware and drivers. However, admins can pause Autoupdate if they encounter problems and roll back versions if necessary.

“The result is that enrolled devices are always up-to-date and business disruption is minimized, relieving the IT department of this ongoing task,” it says.

The service does not support Windows Server OS and Windows Multi-Session. The service supports some non-Microsoft drivers. Drivers approved for “automatic” are served through the service, but drivers who are “manual” are not. All Surface devices are provided with driver updates through the service.

Microsoft also explains that Windows Autopatch differs from Windows Update for Business because it is a managed service that Microsoft takes care of.

 

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