Windows 8.1 Update – Microsoft forces users to update OS if they want future security updates

Graham Cluley

Most of the attention this week, from the patching point of view at least, has been directed towards the last ever security fixes for Windows XP.

Microsoft warned in 2007 that it would no longer be supporting Windows XP after April 8th, 2014, and they have kept true to their promise – meaning that all XP users would be wise to either upgrade their XP installations to a more modern version of Windows or, if they’re feeling brave enough to make the leap, switch to a rival operating system.

But amid all the talk of bidding adieu to Windows XP, there was another – much more modern – version of Windows which could be said to be throwing down the gauntlet for users to take action if they wish to remain secure on the net.

Yesterday, Microsoft began the rollout of Windows 8.1 Update for users of Windows 8.1.

Windows 8.1 Update brings a whole bunch of user interface changes that will probably be warmly welcomed by users – such as more friendly support for those who prefer to use a keyboard and mouse over touching a screen, an improved version of Internet Explorer 11, and the ability to boot to traditional Desktop mode rather than the Windows 8 Start Screen.

However, the most interesting aspect to Windows 8.1 Update for security-conscious users is that Microsoft is insisting you won’t receive any more security updates for Windows 8.1, unless you install Windows 8.1 Update.

Microsoft’s Premier Field Engineering blog underlines the point with some straight talking:

“Failure to install this (Windows 8.1) Update will prevent Windows Update from patching your system with any future updates starting with Updates released in May 2014 (get busy!)”

Unless you have turned off automatic updates in your settings, Windows 8.1 Update will probably already have downloaded and installed itself onto your devices.

But if you don’t like the changes Microsoft is making in Windows 8.1 Update (which could well be the case for some users resistant to change), there is no option to skip the update and still receive the most basic security patches.

Which means Microsoft has only given you one month (until the next round of security patches in May) to update your Windows 8.1 devices.

It’s worth underlining that Windows 8 users will still receive security patches (as will users of Windows 7 and Vista), but Windows 8.1 users have to submit to Microsoft’s pressure and install Windows 8.1 Update if they want to keep their systems secure.

So, I think it’s clear what you need to do.

Whether you like Microsoft’s high pressure tactics or not, you’re swimming against the tide if you want to skip the Windows 8.1 Update.

You cannot afford to miss out on receiving your Windows security updates, so you’ll just have to adjust to the new world order – and hopefully find Microsoft’s changes to the way Windows 8.1 works a positive step.

This article originally appeared on the Lumension blog.

Graham Cluley Graham Cluley is a veteran of the anti-virus industry having worked for a number of security companies since the early 1990s when he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows. Now an independent security analyst, he regularly makes media appearances and is an international public speaker on the topic of computer security, hackers, and online privacy. Follow him on Twitter at @gcluley, or drop him an email.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Never miss a thing. Sign up for the free GCHQ newsletter from Graham Cluley.
GET EMAIL UPDATES