Microsoft could abandon Service Packs with Windows 8 to provide faster OS updates

Over the last week, there has been a lot of buzz surrounded around an update for Windows 8 RTM. This has been considered unusual, because Microsoft traditionally only updates it’s OS via a service pack and only releases critical security updates. ComputerWorld actually takes a closer look at the whole situation and in a report it postulates that Microsoft may be abandoning the entire concept of the service pack.

To further its point it notes even with Windows 7 it only released one service pack and with Windows 8 it quotes Microsoft’s Windows Division president Steven Sinofsky who says “During the final months of Windows 8 we challenged ourselves to create the tools and processes to be able to deliver these ‘post-RTM’ updates sooner than a service pack.” He further reiterates “By developing better test automation and test coverage tools, Windows 8 will be totally up to date for all customers starting at General Availability.”

The ComputerWorld report notes that this is indeed a strange move for the company, which previously used-to sit back and release giant updates usually spaced out between 18 months of each other.

However, it is noted this is more of modern trend as modern mobile operating systems have been doing this for sometime. Google examples of this philosophy are iOS and even Google’s cloud based Chrome OS, where the pitch is about an always-updated OS, which improves over time.

Previously, with bandwidth issues, Microsoft was dependent on optical media to deliver the large service pack updates, but now that model is defunct as consumers can keep their systems constantly updated. In fact, with the lowered value of optical media itself, Microsoft will be more dependent on the Internet. It cannot afford to sit-back and release large updates spaced-out between 18 months, but rather has to keep the OS constantly updated even if that means releasing small updates on a regular basis. Again, this is nothing new; Apple is already doing this even with its desktop OS, OS X Mountain Lion.

Another challenge for Microsoft is to crack the enterprise. IT managers traditionally switch to a new version of Windows only when Microsoft releases the first service pack. To further the fast adoption of Windows 8, Microsoft wants to ensure IT Managers that they are getting a fully stable, bug free OS and that’s why it may choose to regularly update Windows 8. It has already updated the RTM build of Windows 8, which is a first in itself, but considering the new user-interface, Microsoft may even scale up the capabilities of the OS over its lifecycle, even before it releases the next iteration of Windows.

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  • nkspro

    At last ms is learning the tricks of linux world, which is prevalent there for ages.

  • Anil

    Microsoft can not stop the Service Packs because on servers Administrators don’t apply shitty hot fixes on stable environments. Services Packs undergo proper testing and ensure acceptable system stability. It also ensures minimum os platform specification for any software installed on it. This is analogous to API level in Android. Developers target specific feature sets. Well Microsoft if planning to release updates in minor versions then its a different model like Apple where they release update and give minor version number. For example. OSX 10.8.1 updated to 10.8.2 and so on. On Windows, Microsoft never publishes minor numbers to public. Have you heard of Windows 6.1 or Windows 6.1.2 ?