Technology Microsoft looks back at 20 years of its Patch Tuesday Windows update efforts


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Apr 24, 2016
It's a day that many PC owners look forward to, and others sometimes dread. It's Patch Tuesday, the name given to the second Tuesday of each month when Microsoft updates its Windows operating system with security updates.

The first Patch Tuesday happened just over 20 years ago, in October 2003. In a new blog post, John Cable, Microsoft's Vice President for Program Management and Windows Servicing and Delivery, takes a look back at the history of this effort to offer regular security updates for Windows.

The idea behind Patch Tuesday actually began over a year earlier on January 15, 2002, when Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates sent out a memo to all of the company's employees. He announced the Trustworthy Computing (TwC) initiative as a way to spur the company to create more secure software products and better ways to update them. He wrote:

Our new design approaches need to dramatically reduce the number of such issues that come up in the software that Microsoft, its partners and its customers create. We need to make it automatic for customers to get the benefits of these fixes. Eventually, our software should be so fundamentally secure that customers never even worry about it.

That memo inspired Microsoft to come up with a regular schedule for releasing security and bug patches for Windows and other software programs, which evolved into Patch Tuesday.

In today's blog post, Cable offers a timeline of Microsoft's efforts to improve the security of Windows, such as Secure Boot in Windows 8. The company has also tried to improve how it offers information on its patches, such as release notes that began with the launch of Windows 10.

Cable says that Microsoft will continue to improve the quality of patches for future Windows releases. He stated:

With new hotpatching technologies proving themselves across Azure Fleet and Windows Server Azure Edition, the future for patching is bright as we continue to pursue fast, reliable, secure updates for the best possible update experience. We’re also investing in new AI technology and talent, as well as in leadership and cross-team partnerships, to ensure that we can keep you protected and productive for the next 20 years of Windows.

The next Patch Tuesday is coming up in just a few days on November 14.

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