Microsoft's Windows 8.1 Update requirement generates confusion

The reasons and conditions for demanding that customers install this OS update seem arbitrary and contradictory

Microsoft is struggling to explain its requirement for Windows 8.1 customers to update to the latest version of the OS in order to receive bug and security patches.

The confusion began last month, when Microsoft released Windows 8.1 Update and gave Windows 8.1 commercial and consumer users until May 12 to install it, saying that they otherwise wouldn't get access to future patches.

Responding to complaints from commercial customers -- those who receive fixes via WSUS (Windows Server Update Services), Windows Intune or System Center Configuration Manager -- Microsoft buckled and extended the deadline to August. It kept the original May 12 deadline in place for consumers, but then on Monday at the last minute moved it to June 10.

So Windows 8.1 consumer customers will get access to security fixes through June 10 -- including the monthly patches due out today -- but Microsoft will not deliver to them fixes for bugs it doesn't consider security-related, according to a Microsoft spokesman.

By contrast, "consumer customers with Windows 8.1 Update installed will receive all updates, including security," he wrote via email.

Back in April, Microsoft made it sound like having Windows 8.1 Update would be required, from a technology standpoint, in order for future patches and fixes to work.

"All future security and non-security updates will be built on these latest product updates, so existing Windows 8.1 customers -- as well as Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows Embedded 8.1 Industry customers -- will need to be running these latest product updates in order to continue to receive future product improvements and security updates," Microsoft official Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a blog post back then.

Asked for clarification on this point, another Microsoft spokesman reiterated Monday via email that "all future 8.1 updates -- security and non-security -- have a dependency on 8.1 Update. This means 8.1 customers will need to install 8.1 Update prior to installing any other updates."

"Come June 10th, if they havent installed 8.1 Update, no other updates will be visible to them in the Windows Update UI because they will be required to install the Update in order to receive any other updates," he added.

That response would seem to reinforce the idea that Windows 8.1 Update establishes some sort of technology foundation that is necessary for Windows 8.1 users to have in order to install and apply updates.

But what changed from a technology standpoint between April and now that will in fact allow Windows 8.1 PCs to receive and install patches even though they're not running Windows 8.1 Update?

If Windows 8.1 Update indeed lays down a software code foundation that will be required for fixes and patches to work on Windows 8.1, how come these fixes and patches will work on consumer Windows 8.1 PCs through June 10 and on commercial Windows 8.1 PCs through August?

Will there be at some point a technology impediment that makes Windows 8.1 PCs unable to absorb patches and fixes? If not, is the requirement for Windows 8.1 customers to move to Windows 8.1 Update an arbitrary decision by Microsoft? After all, customers who are still on Windows 8 will continue to receive all security and non-security updates through January 2016.

IDG News Service has so far been unable to obtain clarification on this issue from Microsoft.

In the meantime, as reported by Computerworld recently, installing Windows 8.1 Update isn't going smoothly for everybody, as evidenced by this long thread on Microsoft's support discussion forum.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Windows 8MicrosoftWindowssoftwareoperating systems

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Juan Carlos Perez

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

ASUS ROG Swift PG279Q – Reign beyond virtual world

Learn more >

D-Link PowerLine AV2 2000 Gigabit Network Kit

Learn more >

D-Link TAIPAN AC3200 Ultra Wi-Fi Modem Router (DSL-4320L)

Learn more >

Crucial® BX200 SATA 2.5” 7mm (with 9.5mm adapter) Internal Solid State Drive

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Gadgets & Things


Learn more >

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

ASUS VivoPC VM62 - Incredibly Powerful, Unbelievably Small

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Lexar Professional 2000x SDHC™/SDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1000x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Best Deals on Good Gear Guide

Latest News Articles


GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy


First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni


For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell


The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi


The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott


My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.


Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?