When I read Larry Seltzer’s Zero Day blog post yesterday — which appeared on a Patch Tuesday morning, by no coincidence whatsoever I’m sure — I was both amazed and amused to realize that it has indeed been a decade since Microsoft changed from its prior practice of pushing patches primarily as circumstances and availability dictated to its current practice of batching them up and pushing them out at a regular and predictable interval. This change occurred primarily in response to qvetching from IT departments everywhere that pushing patches out the door randomly didn’t really fit the working methods and models of modern IT organizations. Even then, standard best practices were already in commonplace use that employed formal change controls within the context of scheduled update activities to rationalize patching and update processes, and better fit them into the overall IT workflow.
A regular, predictable update schedule is what IT organizations wanted, and what Microsoft gave them with Patch Tuesday. Seltzer’s comment about all of this is right on the money “…the predictability of the update schedule and the improved information that comes with security bulletins these days, as well as improvements in patch management systems, were also a big part in making IT life more normal.”
Just last week, I was explaining to my nine-year-old son — who is the proud owner of “his” first PC (a Dell XPS 2710 Haswell model) — that he needed to get ready for Patch Tuesday. “What’s that?” he asked. I explained: “Round about the second Tuesday of every month, Microsoft releases most of its security updates and patches for the month. It’s part of the regular routine of keeping Windows systems up to date.” “Oh,” he said, “what do I have to do?” “I’ll show you,” I said, and yesterday we worked through his first-ever Patch Tuesday, as I showed him how to download and install the important patches, and evaluate and select the optional items he might or might not want.
I’m bemused to find myself passing the torch for Windows upkeep and maintenance to another generation, but that’s what started happening around our house late yesterday afternoon. And so the world keeps turning…