Q&A Understanding the new Windows update history experience

SecurityNightmares

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Jan 9, 2020
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This past October, we notified you that we were going to improve the Windows update history experience, particularly with regard to release notes. Our optimization efforts are complete and I'd like to take this opportunity to walk you through the changes and improvements.

KB identifiers and URL structure​

One of the primary ways that many find release notes is through the use of a KB identifier (KBID). We use a unique identifier for each Windows update. Once a KBID is created, it is then used to identify the update throughout the release process, including documentation. In the older experience, the KBID was used in several different ways:

With the new experience, many of these methods are still utilized, just in different ways. For instance, the URL structure of https://support.microsoft.com/help/<KBID> is still supported, however, it will redirect to a newly formatted URL https://support.microsoft.com/<locale>/topic/<article-title><GUID>. Additionally, if a KBID appears in the title of a page, it will appear in the URL. If a KBID is not in the title, it will not appear in the URL. Types of articles where you may not find a KBID include informational articles and articles released for non-cumulative updates or specialty packages.

For those of you who are familiar with viewing web-based source code, there is still a way to locate the KBID for future reference.

  1. Right-click on the article.
  2. Select “view page source."
  3. Look for <meta name="awa-kb_id" content="#######" />
  4. The number listed as the value for “content” is the KBID.
We understand that this workaround is not ideal and are working to find a more user-friendly means of providing this ID within the article body.

Landing pages and update pages​

There are two different types of articles that make up the Windows update history experience:

  • Landing/product pages
  • Update pages
thumbnail image 1 captioned Landing page and update pages for Windows 10, version 20H2 and Windows Server, version 20H2
Landing page and update pages for Windows 10, version 20H2 and Windows Server, version 20H2

Landing pages​

Landing/product pages supply details on the overall feature update release. These details may include information on the servicing lifecycle, known issues, troubleshooting, and related resources.

Update pages​

Update pages supply information on a specific update. These updates service the operating system detailed on the landing page. On an update page, you'll find:

  • Highlights – fixes important to both consumer and commercial audiences.
  • Improvements and fixes – addressed issues in more detail specially targeted to commercial audiences.
  • Known issues with the update.
  • Information on how to get and install the update.
  • A detailed list of all files that were changed as part of the update.

File lists​

thumbnail image 2 captioned Where the file list appears on the update history pages
Where the file list appears on the update history pages

The file list can be found at the bottom of each update history page in the “How to get this update” section and enables you to track which system files were affected as part of the release. This allows you to gauge risk and impact. In prior releases, the file list was working improperly and not supplying the versioning or the architecture information for newer operating systems. With our new format, this issue is resolved and versioning is now working as expected. There are still files listed as “not applicable”, however, these are files that do not have versioning information. The files are also now organized by architecture, so it is easier to see which files belong to a specific architecture, as shown below:

1613679037038.png


 
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