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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Microsoft Starts Beta Testing Windows 10 Patches with Actual Beta Testers

Microsoft releases “C” and “D” updates to people who click “Check for Updates” in Windows Update. Those people become unwitting beta testers. January 2019’s C update has a rare distinction: Microsoft tested it with Windows Insiders first.

C and D updates are released in the third and fourth week of most months. They include non-security fixes and are only installed for people who click the “Check for Updates” button in Windows Update. These people essentially beta test the updates before the fixes form part of next month’s stable Patch Tuesday updates. Those Patch Tuesday updates are named “B” updates, as Patch Tuesday is in the second week of each month.

These C and D updates have caused problems before. For example, a “D” update recently caused blue screens on Microsoft’s own Surface Book 2 hardware. Only people who clicked the “Check for Updates” button would have installed it and encountered the problem. Microsoft calls these people “seekers” and thinks they’re looking for more updates, but we think most people clicking that button have no clue they’re opting into unstable updates.

There’s finally some good news, though! As Woody Leonhard points out at AskWoody.com, this month’s C update—Windows Update KB4476976—has actually gone through thorough testing in the Windows Insider Release Preview ring earlier this month:

It’s finally out. The first Win10 patch (to the best of my knowledge) that’s been thoroughly tested in the Windows Insider Preview Ring — and I’d be willing to bet that it’s pretty stable.

…Raise a glass of cheer. We may be witnessing a fix to Microsoft’s fumbled fixing method.

This is still a C update and it’s still only installed if you click “Check for Updates,” but “seekers” who do click that button will be getting a patch that’s already gone through a round of testing with people who know what they’re getting into. Windows Insiders are, of course, people who’ve chosen to be beta testers.

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