Microsoft confirms it's dropping Windows 8.1 support

Microsoft TechNet blog makes clear that Windows 8.1 will not be patched; users must get Windows 8.1 Update if they want security patches

In what is surely the most customer-antagonistic move of the new Windows regime, Steve Thomas at Microsoft posted a TechNet article on Saturday stating categorically that Microsoft will no longer issue security patches for Windows 8.1, starting in May. Call this the "let them eat cake" approach to support for Microsoft's flagship operating system.

Since Microsoft wants to ensure that customers benefit from the best support and servicing experience and to coordinate and simplify servicing across both Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8.1 RT and Windows 8.1, this update will be considered a new servicing/support baseline... beginning with the May Patch Tuesday, Windows 8.1 user's devices without the update installed will no longer receive security updates. This means that Windows 8.1 users - starting patch Tuesday in May 2014 and beyond - will require this update to be installed. If the Windows 8.1 Update is not installed, those newer updates will be considered "not applicable."

Never mind that Windows 8.1 customers are still having multiple problems with errors when trying to install the Update. At this point, there are 300 posts on the Microsoft Answers forum thread Windows 8.1 Update 1 Failing to Install with errors 0x80070020, 80073712 and 800F081F. The Answers forum is peppered with similar complaints and a wide range of errors, from 800F0092 to 80070003, for which there are no solutions from Microsoft.

Never mind that Microsoft itself yanked Windows 8.1 Update from the corporate WSUS update server chute almost a week ago and still hasn't offered a replacement.

Never mind that third-party software -- notably Malwarebytes -- is encountering compatibility problems with Windows 8.1 Update.

Never mind that, up until last week, most new Windows PCs were sold with the now-shunned software.

Most damning of all, Thomas reiterates the absurd decision to cut off Windows 8.1 but keep security patches going for Windows 8 itself:

For those users who are still using Windows 8 and Windows 2012 (and not Windows 8.1 and Windows 2012 R2) you are unaffected and will continue to receive updates as normal. The new baseline only exists for Windows 8.1 and Windows Server 2012 R2.

At the same time, corporate admins have been advised to hold off on deploying Windows 8.1 Update:

Microsoft plans to issue an update as soon as possible that will correct the issue and restore the proper behavior for Windows 8.1 Update KB 2919355 scanning against all supported WSUS configurations. Until that time, we are delaying the distribution of the Windows 8.1 Update KB 2919355 to WSUS servers. You may still obtain the Windows 8.1 Update (KB 2919355) from the Windows Update Catalog or MSDN. However, we recommend that you suspend deployment of this update in your organization until we release the update that resolves this issue.

Yes, you read that right: With three weeks left until Windows 8.1 end of support -- until the next round of security patches appear with Windows 8.1 not included in the party list -- Microsoft still hasn't figured out how to get Windows 8.1 Update out to the corporate update distribution channel.

There's been progress on one (rarely reported) error: Microsoft has a patch you can run if you're hitting error 80071A91 when installing Windows 8.1 Update. It's detailed in KB 2939087.

Tell me again Microsoft how you're cutting off Windows 8.1 updates so that "customers benefit from the best support and servicing experience"? Pshaw -- it sounds to me more like some customer-tone-deaf person in the organization has decided to minimize the patching budget by cutting off the company's most recent customers.

It's not a wise move at all.

This story, "Microsoft confirms it's dropping Windows 8.1 support," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog. For the latest developments in business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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