When Windows bug fixes go bad, IT can now roll back individual changes


Microsoft this week announced a new enterprise-only flexibility in Windows servicing that lets IT professionals roll back individual non-security elements of an update when a change breaks something.

The feature, dubbed “Known Issue Rollback,” aka KIR, is an unusually frank admission that the company’s nearly six-year-long experiment of forcing customers to either accept everything in an update or pass on the update entirely, is flawed.

“Even as quality has improved over the last five years, we do acknowledge that sometimes things can and do go wrong,” Namrata Bachwani, principal program manager lead, said in a March 2 session video from Microsoft’s all-virtual Ignite conference. 

”In the past, you had two choices: all or nothing,” Bachwani continued. “You either take it all, so you install the update and you get all the great fixes that you want and the problem, which is causing an issue for your customers. Or you take nothing.

“So you either don’t install the update because you’ve heard that it causes a problem, or you uninstall it, which means the problem goes away but you also don’t get all the other great fixes in that package, which has changes that you want and need,” she said. 
If Bachwani’s summary sounds familiar, it should: Essentially, it was the argument made by critics of Windows 10’s practice of bundling fixes, both security and non-security, into one package that was not only cumulative — it included all prior fixes as well as the newest — but was indivisible.

Windows 10’s approach was in stark contrast to previous editions of the OS, which had offered each fix as a separate, discrete update that could be deployed … or not.

Customers, including enterprise IT personnel, could — as Bachwani pointed out — either forgo an update because of a known (or suspected) problem or accept the update, even though it contained one or more flaws. The dilemma caused many to decry Microsoft’s take-it-or-leave-it attitude, which broke with decades of past practice. In the end, customers did what they almost always did in the face of a Microsoft move; they accepted it, since they had little recourse.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.



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