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Microsoft blinks, extends Windows 8.1 Update deadline for consumers

Another 30-day reprieve before the patch cutoff axe falls

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In a move that should surprise no one, Microsoft has extended the deadline when consumers must install the Windows 8.1 Update to avoid being cut off from future security patches to June 10, giving them a 30-day reprieve.

"While we believe the majority of people have received the update, we recognize that not all have," Microsoft's Brandon LeBlanc wrote in a blog post. "Having our customers running their devices with the latest updates is super important to us. And we're committed to helping ensure their safety."

Redmond has said that the Windows 8.1 Update, released on April 7, will soon be considered a "new servicing/support baseline," and that Windows 8.1 customers who fail to install it will stop receiving further security updates until they do.

The initial cutoff date was set for May's Patch Tuesday, which would have meant that some customers' Windows Update panels would have gone dead this week. But extending the deadline was the only logical option, because the Windows 8.1 Update rollout has been fumbled from the start, prompting many customers to hold off.

As is its habit, Microsoft released the Update to MSDN before pushing it out to all of its customers via Windows Update. As it turned out, however, those who installed it from MSDN wasted their time. The patches that eventually arrived in Windows Update weren't the same as the ones from MSDN, so everyone needed to reinstall from Windows Update anyway.

Then there was the bug that caused business customers who receive their fixes from Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) to lose their connections to their patch servers, a glitch Redmond deemed serious enough to halt distribution of the Update until it could be corrected.

Other bugs cropped up as well, including several that would cause the installer to fail with a variety of cryptic error codes. Following a series of fixes and tweaks, the Knowledge Base article for one of the Windows 8.1 Update patches is now on its 20th revision.

After reissuing the Update bundle with a fix for the WSUS bug, Microsoft saw the error of its original plans, at least where enterprise customers were concerned. Business customers have now been given until August 12 to get with the program, and if some don't budge, Redmond might be forced to extend the deadline even further.

The software giant is still trying to play hardball with consumers, however, and it's easy to see why. With another major update bundle expected to drop in the fall, Microsoft wants to get all of its Windows 8.1, Windows RT 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2 customers onto the same support and servicing cadence, ASAP. The odd part is that just about anyone outside of Microsoft could have told you that's going to be easier said than done. ®

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