Microsoft is bringing Windows 7 and 8.1 on par with Windows 10 by imposing a cumulative update model to the older OSs.
The company wants to leave the individual hotfix approach behind and take a more integral approach to its updates.
It is worthy of note how different Windows Update works on Windows 10 versus Windows 7 and 8.1. The older operating systems are snatching an array of individual patches each month, which means that if a system skipped its monthly patching a few times, users can expect to see dozens of individual fixes in queue. Should a user go for a from-the-bottom installation, the number could rank to hundreds of individual patches.
Windows 10 is keeping things simpler with one or two monthly updates. This is because one cumulative update is crafted to encompass everything from the newest reliability and security fixes to various fixes from previous months. This means that if you forgot to update your rig during multiple months (or you go for a clean install), you never have to worry about downloading and installing hundreds of individual fixes. By simply using the latest cumulative update, Windows 10 makes due and is kind of up-to-date.
Windows 7's system received a slight improvement in May this year. At the time, Microsoft said it is planning to pack all the patches post Service Pack 1 into one rollup. Thanks to the package, Windows 7 went up-to-date much faster than it would have gone otherwise.
With the recent initiative, the company shows that it stays true to that approach.
This October, Windows 7 and 8.1 users will see the rollout of the first Monthly Rollup. They will receive every important security and reliability improvements released during that month. The next months will come with subsequent rollups, and the cumulative aspect will be maintained.
At first, the Monthly Rollups will pack only the patches dated October 2016 or newer, but the company promises that in 2017 the time coverage will expand. This would help users get all the patches Microsoft has released since the last "baseline."
Keep in mind that a few software need to be updated separately, such as Adobe Flash and the Windows servicing stack. This would impact mostly newly installed Windows systems, as a number of individual patches will be required to set up Windows Update. As long as you get that going, the Windows Update should be able to do the rest by itself.
Microsoft affirms that it is planning to deliver updates focused exclusively on security, leaving aside reliability or feature changes. Note that these types of special updates will lack the cumulative trait.
Another thing to keep in mind is that Microsoft will stop shipping individual hotfixes in October. This should oblige users to install Monthly Rollups or security-only update to keep their computers safe.
There is reasoning behind this as well.
In its internal testing, Microsoft uses configurations where all updates are applied. Seeing how there are hundreds of separate updates, it is unreasonable to test all possible combinations a user might pick. Forcing users to download the full range of updates should make the end-user systems closer to the configurations Microsoft uses to test its OS.
Last but not least, the new policy should shorten the duration in which Windows Update is active, as systems will have to be checked for the presence of fewer patches.