Microsoft confuses Windows 7 users with sudden release of KB 2952664

With no fanfare or warning -- and scarce details from Microsoft -- an 'important' update has appeared on fully patched Windows 7 machines

Eagle-eyed Windows 7 users are wondering what's up with KB 2952664, an "important" patch that arrived unannounced a few hours ago. The short answer: Nobody seems to know much about it -- and the ones who do aren't talking publicly.

Here's what I've been able to piece together:

  • The patch was distributed automatically via WSUS, the corporate Windows updating mechanism. It does not appear on at least some Windows Update/Microsoft Update lists -- although that may be a reflection of the normal rolling update timing.
  • The release date, April 22, falls into the usual cycle of fourth-Tuesday nonsecurity updates. (In the normal course of events, Microsoft tries to release security patches on the second Tuesday of the month, and nonsecurity patches on the fourth Tuesday.)
  • The only description I can find for the patch is in the KB article: "This update helps Microsoft make improvements to the current operating system in order to ease the upgrade experience to the latest version of Windows... The global version of this update installs files that have the attributes that are listed in the following tables." The tables include about 30 programs, most of which are compatibility checkers and System Database files, which typically contain large amounts of setup data.

Why is Microsoft running the patch down the update chute? Not a clue in the official online docs. I'm speculating that the patch may be related to a recent change in Windows 8.1 upgrade behavior. In the past, if you have Windows 8, you went through the Windows Store to get Windows 8.1 and then into Windows Update (Microsoft Update, WSUS) to get Windows 8.1 Update. That changed recently, so upgrading via the Windows Store takes a Windows 8 machine directly to Windows 8.1 Update. (t/h ScottF)

Other than that, I don't know of any reason why Microsoft would be changing the upgrade mechanism.

If you have no intention of invoking the "upgrade experience to the latest version of Windows" (presumably an in-place upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 8 and/or Windows 8.1 Update), there appears to be no compelling reason to install the patch.

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