What happened to the patches? Several people posting on the AskWoody forum have reported a startling appearance, then disappearance of the two apparently unrelated patches. There's been no description in the official Windows Update list of any change to either patch. I also have reports of the Windows Update notification icon in the Windows 7 system tray disappearing -- then, in some cases, unexpectedly re-appearing.
Goblins? Gamma rays? Faulty observations? Dirty glasses? Or is something going on with Windows updating that Microsoft isn't telling us about?
KB 2999226 is a nonsecurity patch for Windows 8.1 that, according to the KB article, sticks a new Universal C Runtime on Windows 8.1 machines. The new Universal C Runtime is needed when programmers use the new Windows 10 Software Development Kit to build Universal/Metro apps and you try to run them on Windows 8.1. It's a mammoth patch, first issued for both Win 7 and Win 8.1 on Sept. 15, then issued for Vista on Sept. 29. There's no indication that the patch has been modified in any other way.
KB 3083710 is a patch to the Windows Update client for Windows 7. I wrote about that patch a week ago in my blog post about Windows "snooping" and nagging patches returning. As far as I can tell, it was only issued once, on Oct. 6. Again, there's no indication that the patch has been modified in any way.
BruceH, writing on the AskWoody Lounge, posted this morning, Oct. 13:
I've been applying those Windows Update Client Patches, and seen nothing odd. But this morning, checking that the Redmond Elves had not tinkered with my WAU settings in the night, I was surprised to see an optional update offered, KB 3083710.
I clicked on the amusingly titled "more information" link, and found it to be yet another Update Client patch, version 1.0, issued 6th Oct. But when I went back to the WU page, which had remained open throughout my browsing, the optional update had vanished entirely. Checking shows that I have neither installed nor hidden any such patch.
Last night there were no patches awaiting my attention, this morning one appears and then disappears as soon as it is researched online.
In response, flavet posted:
This morning I displayed my hidden updates, as I have been doing daily since there has been such an increase in AskWoody comments. I also have of late made a list of the hidden updates that appear in the "Windows 7" portion. I check that list each morning. Yesterday there were 15 updates in that portion. This morning there were only 13, all without my having done anything since 10-9 relating to updates. The missing items: KB2999226 and KB3083710.
Bruce H, above, said he found a new update today: KB3083710, but that later it disappeared! Strange goings on!
That isn't the only apparition buzzing about. Reader JeffW sent an email:
Since approximately the week of August 10-15, I haven't been seeing the Windows Update System Tray notification Icon appear when there are Updates in my Control Panel's WU listing. Both of my PCs have the same issue with the W7 WU Tray Icon notification missing since the same time frame in August.
My WU setting has been set to "Download Updates but let me choose whether to install them." It's been set that way on both of my PCs since I began using W7 in 2010 with the Tray Notification Icon always working until this August.
Jeff included links to a BleepingComputer thread (interesting comment from jargos: "I reckon MSFT has done this deliberately, so as to trick the sheeple into mindlessly assuming the W10 icon is now the update icon") and another thread on the Norton Community forum. In addition, there's a SevenForums thread on the same topic and doubtless many others.
I can't help but wonder if the change came with Aug. 11 Patch Tuesday. Included with those patches were 13 nonsecurity updates, changing the metadata associated with individual nonsecurity patches -- generally a sign that the patch has been moved from optional-and-unchecked to important-and-checked. Perhaps the offending patch(es) were moved to important, and people were thus coaxed into installing them.
Then again, maybe it's nothing at all -- a dress rehearsal for Halloween, on a somewhat spookier scale. As long as Microsoft doesn't tell us what's happening, we have very little to substantiate or repudiate any claims -- only observations.