Apparently in an attempt to beat the Black Tuesday rush, Microsoft has released or re-released seven patches, including several with checkered histories and at least one -- the fabled Windows 8.1 Update 1 patch, KB 2919355 -- with a problematic pedigree going back a year.
Let's take them in numerical order.
KB 2919355 may sound familiar. It's the infamous Windows 8.1 Update 1, released a year ago, that caused no end of havoc when Windows 8.1 customers first discovered they couldn't install it, then learned Microsoft wouldn't provide any more patches to their copies of Windows 8.1 until it was installed. Surely, that was one of the all-time lows in Windows patching history. Now, a year later, we're seeing a new version of the installer. Perhaps it'll work this time.
For those of you who gave up, disgusted by Microsoft's threats, you might want to give it another try -- or not. At least you can now feel vindicated. The Knowledge Base article, dated Feb. 17, is up to version 41. I don't recall ever seeing a KB revision number that big.
KB 2952664 for Windows 7, originally released Oct 14, 2014, and now re-released for at least the eighth time, is billed as a "Compatibility update for upgrading Windows 7." Microsoft's minimalist KB article is now up to version 7. As I mentioned on Oct 15, 2014, the patch had been released at least seven times at that point, on April 16, April 22, May 13, June 10, July 8, Aug. 12, and Oct. 14, 2014. This makes number eight (I think). Last October, here's what I said:
Back in April, I speculated that KB 2952664 was a patch for Win7 to make it easier to perform in-place upgrades to Windows 8.1. Now it's starting to look like the patch may also ease the transition to Windows 10. Heaven only knows, your speculation is as good as mine.
There was a bloody history of attempts to install the previous versions of the patches. Microsoft still hasn't released any information about the patch that I can find.
KB 2976978 for Windows 8/8.1, originally released on July 8, 2014, was re-released on Aug. 12; Oct. 14; Nov. 11; Dec. 9; Feb. 10, 2015; March 24; then March 25. It now gets another run down the chute two weeks later. Microsoft says:
This update performs diagnostics on the Windows systems that participate in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program in order to determine whether compatibility issues may be encountered when the latest Windows operating system is installed. This update will help Microsoft and its partners ensure compatibility for customers who are seeking to install the latest Windows operating system.
Unlike KB 2952664, this patch has triggered few screams of pain. Again, it appears as if the Softies are gearing up for a Windows 10 rollout. But the repeated attempts (three tries in two weeks?) give me pause.
KB 2977759, a "Compatibility update for Windows 7 RTM," has a release history comparable to KB 2976978, and like that patch, it's directed at customers enrolled in the Windows Customer Experience Improvement Program.
KB 2990214 is the Windows Insider Program sign-up sheet (albeit the British version). In theory, it should only be installed on systems that were used to sign up for the Windows Insider program, although the exact mechanism remains a mystery to me. I have not seen the patch offered on any of my Windows 7 machines, although it's on the official Windows Update list for 2015.
KB 3042085, on the other hand, is a fix for a problem created by KB 3000850, the November 2014 update rollup for Windows 8.1, RT 8.1 and Server 2012 R2. Prior to this release, as best I can tell, the only fixes were manual or a by-request-only Hotfix from Microsoft.
KB 3044374 is an "Update that supports you to upgrade from Windows 8.1 or Windows Server 2012 R2 to a later version of Windows." It appears to be newly issued today.