Microsoft details schedule changes for Office updates

Microsoft updating has been a mess, but a newly announced change may help streamline the process

Microsoft details changes to the schedule for Office updates
Credit: Joseph Mischyshyn

Earlier this week, Microsoft made an official announcement that Office patches -- previously released on Patch Tuesday -- would henceforth appear in two groups. Nonsecurity patches would released be on the first Tuesday of the month, security patches would appear on the second Tuesday.

Now in a revision to that post, we get the rest of the picture: Office Click-to-Run will get updates on the second Tuesday.

That's a big change, because CtR updates in the past have been all over the calendar: Last month there was one on Feb. 9 (16.0.6366) and another on Feb. 17 (16.0.6568.2025). This month there was a new CtR version on March 3 (16.0.6568.2034), on March 4 (16.0.6568.2036), on March 17 (16.0.6741.2017), and on March 24 (16.0.6741.2021).

This has become a major concern because various CtR versions have broken important Office features -- including, most recently, the Outlook Calendar bug that re-appeared on Feb. 9, the freeze on opening documents bug on Feb. 9, and the POP3 disabling bug on Feb. 16.

Here's how the patching schedule looks now, per the TechNet blog:

Starting in April, the non-security updates will be released in Microsoft Update and the Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) on the first Tuesday of the month, which is April 5 in this case. This will include all updates that have the Critical or Definition classification. Updates with the Security classification will continue to release on second Tuesday as usual.

This change applies only to the MSI version of Office. Office Click-To-Run (C2R) will release on second Tuesday.

This is all superimposed, of course, on the Windows patches, which are still focused on the second Tuesday of the month, but tend to dribble out at other times as well. In March, for example, we saw Windows 7 and 8.1 patches and updates on March 1, 8 (Patch Tuesday), 10, 15, 22, and 23. Windows 10 patches normally fall on Patch Tuesday, but they too have an independent cadence -- in March we saw Win10 patches on March 1 and 8.

We're a long way from the old approach of security patches on the second Tuesday and other patches on the fourth Tuesday. This month we had patches in Windows and Office Click-to-Run on March 1, 3, 4, 8, 10, 15, 17, 22, 23, and 24. And the last day of March isn't over yet.

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