Microsoft is trying something different to prevent Windows 10 updates from failing

Windows 10
(Image credit: Microsoft)

If you've ever had a Windows 10 update fail to install through no direct fault of your own, good news—it shouldn't happen ever again, at least in theory. That's because Microsoft is making a key change to how it pushes out cumulative updates.

More specifically, as spotted by BleepingComputer, Microsoft is bundling something called a servicing stack update (SSU) with regularly scheduled cumulative updates, starting with the one due out on March 9 (along with the partial preview I wrote about last week).

Cumulative updates and SSUs are two separate beasts, and up to this point, they have been doled out separately—the former on the second Tuesday of every month, otherwise known as Patch Tuesday, and the latter whenever Microsoft sees fit.

Why does this matter? SSUs tweak the actual update component in Windows and can fix issues that might prevent a patch from installing on your PC. Part of the reason is Microsoft doesn't issue SSUs on a monthly basis, and that can be a problem if a particular SSU is prerequisite to install a particular cumulative update.

That said, there is one final standalone SSU available (KB4598481), which paves the way for having future ones bundled.

"This update makes quality improvements to the servicing stack, which is the component that installs Windows updates. Servicing stack updates (SSU) makes sure that you have a robust and reliable servicing stack so that your devices can receive and install Microsoft updates," Microsoft explains.

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You can download KB4598481 manually, if Microsoft has not already pushed it out to your PC. And in fact, if you attempted to install last week's optional preview of this month's Patch Tuesday update and it didn't take, this could be the reason why.

"Starting with this release, Microsoft will combine the latest servicing stack update (SSU) for your operating system with the latest cumulative update (LCU). To utilize this improvement, install the most recent standalone SSU (KB4598481) before installing this LCU. If you install this LCU before installing KB4598481, you might encounter error," Microsoft says.

The latest SSU is available in the Microsoft Update Catalog. Microsoft says installing it does not require a system reboot. Not to worry if you don't want to muck around on your own, though, because Windows should handle this housekeeping on its own (I tried to download the latest SSU on my main PC and a message came up saying it was already installed). The bigger takeaway here is that future Windows 10 updates should be less prone to causing installation headaches.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).