In a bizarre and somewhat befuddling move, Microsoft announced yesterday on its Technet blog that it would no longer provide security updates to users running out-of-date versions of Windows 8.1. In order to receive updates, customers will have to have updated their machines with the most recent Windows 8.1 Update, which the company pushed out in April.
Microsoft recently released a fairly large update for Windows 8.1. Users who installed the update (or have their updates installed automatically) and even users that never updated to 8.1 in the first place will continue to receive updates. However, users running older versions of Windows 8.1 will not receive any security updates moving forward. If they attempt to install an update, they will receive a message informing them that the update is “not applicable.”
Users running Windows 7 or Vista are not affected by this announcement. Users running Windows XP are no longer eligible for security updates either since Microsoft’s long-awaited cessation of support for the more-than-12-year-old operating system became official in April.
It’s not clear whether this decision is to become a precedent for future update cycles.
“Since Microsoft wants to ensure that customers benefit from the best support and servicing experience and to coordinate and simplify servicing across both Windows Server 2012 R2, Windows 8.1 RT and Windows 8.1, this update will be considered a new servicing/support baseline,” wrote Steve Thomas, a senior consultant at Microsoft.
Thomas goes on to explain that users who install updates manually will have 30 days to install the Windows 8.1 update from April. Beginning with the May Patch Tuesday, any Windows 8.1 devices that have not installed the update will no longer receive security updates.
The move is even more of a head-scratcher considering the trouble many users have reportedly faced while attempting to install that April update. Microsoft even references the troubles the patch has presented, saying:
“Microsoft plans to issue an update as soon as possible that will correct the issue and restore the proper behavior for Windows 8.1 Update KB 2919355 scanning against all supported WSUS configurations. Until that time, we are delaying the distribution of the Windows 8.1 Update KB 2919355 to WSUS servers.”
Despite its promise to cut off support for out-of-date versions of Windows 8.1, the company has little choice but to “recommend that you suspend deployment of this update in your organization until we release the update that resolves this issue.”
Threatpost has reached out to Microsoft for clarification and will update this story with any comment.