Microsoft Discontinuing Their Advanced Notification Service for Patches

Not the best news to come out of Redmond in a while

For Mom and Pop, they’ll get the news the way they always had, their machine will restart on a Tuesday or Wednesday, they’ll ask someone what is going on, and they’ll hear “Patch Tuesday” out of their grand kids or their children, shrug and go on.  It’s all automatic, isn’t it?

For Businesses and IT support people, this Advanced Notification Service is more important. 

What happened was that it gave someone in the know the advanced notice that Microsoft was going to push a patch to their computers at some level on Patch Tuesday, typically the Second Tuesday of the Month.  It would tell them what the patch would do, and let them know some more background info on the patch.

Great.  It would also warn these people that if your computer is broken when it forces a restart, you may have to back out the patch and restore to an earlier time.  It may allow them a cushion of time to test their servers, create extra backups, revisit whether their computer security policies are up to date.

That Good Computer Hygene is a part of Information Technology.  They’re made by people, people sometimes have an oops.  Best to let them know what’s up and give advanced warning.

The reason you need this information is that it’s entirely possible your entire business sits on “That Computer In The Corner”.  They may not know what it does, but they do know it’s an important box.  They may call it The Server in hushed tones, and give it offerings of tapes from time to time.

They hopefully have backed the machine up, made sure that they could gracefully reverse changes and so forth.

For my own sanity, I turned off automatic updates years ago, and keep turning it off every time I get a new machine or upgrade one.  I then make it a point to manually go to Windows Update and get “up to date” a couple days later.

The reasoning I have behind that is that while Microsoft is diligent in making sure that things work, their tests don’t involve the machine that is in my lap in this exact moment.  That patch may be great on the box sitting three timezones away, but it may break when it gets to me, specifically. 

I tend to be on the trailing edge with Windows Update for that reason.

The blog posting that Microsoft made did say that the service will be available for a fee so their largest customers can manage their server farms with the information that isn’t getting out so widely.

Information leaks, it’s like carrying water in a leaky bucket.  Information will get all over your shoes and water the grass on the way in from the well.

But it does make things a bit less secure since Information is best used when it is widely spread.  It also puts the onus back on the individual or the person in the business who is charged with maintaining them.

Hopefully everyone has their Backups and their Restore Points set, right?

Oops. Caught myself there. It has been a week or three since I have done a proper backup.  Happens to the best of us and the rest of us.

While Manually updating Windows Update is what I personally do, it is a bit annoying and it is something you have to remember to do.  On the other hand, Automatic Updates is a bit like flying in an airplane without a seatbelt.  It is safer to fly than drive, but once in a long time something happens and you hit some turbulence.

It’s all up to you and that is what I think Microsoft is telling us – Security through updates are up to you, after all it is your data and your computer.  Just be aware best practices and of what is going on around you.

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