Both updates appear to grease the skids for in-place upgrading to Windows 10. Unfortunately, the documentation is so sparse it's impossible to tell if the patches offer anything at all to users who don't intend to upgrade to Windows 10.
As best I can tell, Windows 8.1 users have seen these recent fixes for the Update Client:
- KB 3050267 -- June 2015
- KB 3065988 -- July 2015
- KB 3075853 -- August 2015
- KB 3083325 -- September 2015
- KB 3083711 -- October 2015
- KB 3112336 -- December 2015
(There's an analogous list for Windows 7.)
Looking back at those patches, two notes struck me.
First, the quality of the documentation has gone from extensive to basically nothing. In June, the KB changelog listed five separate changes, including a lengthy description of the new Group Policy and registry key changes that let you block upgrades to the latest version of Windows (which is to say, Windows 10) through Windows Update.
By contrast, the latest description says:
This update enables support for additional upgrade scenarios from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10, and provides a smoother experience when you have to retry an operating system upgrade because of certain failure conditions. This update also improves the ability of Microsoft to monitor the quality of the upgrade experience.
That's all it says.
Microsoft's security documentation has gone to hell in a handbasket lately, and this is an excellent example of how far it's fallen.
Second -- and most important -- I can't find anything listed in any of the patches from July onward that has anything to do with Windows Update. They're all about Windows 10. Perhaps Microsoft has made some changes to the Windows Update program that would be beneficial to people who don't intend to do an in-place upgrade to Windows 10, but if so, they aren't documented anywhere.
This is symptomatic of a more insidious disease. Looking back over the past year of patches for both Windows 7 and 8.1, I see fixes for security holes and some minor bugs. But nearly everything else is designed for Windows 10 -- advertising, upgrading, the Get Windows X campaign (coerced or otherwise) -- or for enhanced snooping.
Did I miss something? Can you find one single patch this year that's designed to improve Windows 7 or 8.1 for regular ol' customers?
Hit me in the comments.