Examining the renewed update history feature for Windows 10
As we reported yesterday, Microsoft issued build 10586.104 for Windows 10 desktops. Alongside that update came a new feature heavily demanded by the populace since Windows 10 controversially started omitting them: update logs.
I find it a bit disingenuous to call it a “new” feature. It’s more like “bringing back what we once had”, though it seems to come in a simpler form. In the Update & Security section of the Settings app, in the Windows Update subsection:
Doing so redirects you to the Windows 10 update history webpage, chronologically detailing every update since this page apparently began today. Obnoxiously absent from the chronology are the logs from any of the previous updates, which leads me to suspect Microsoft never bothered charting information about previous updates. Nevertheless, I find this to be yet another piece of invigorating evidence that Microsoft listens to our feedback (however misguided the company’s initial strategy seem to have been).
Even better, at the bottom of each entry is a link to the specific security ramifications of each update, which includes methods on how to get the update, prerequisites for the update, what the given update supersedes, file hash information, and a CSV file detailing all the files affected by this update.
Of particular interest is the subsection detailing the methods on how to get the update, where it lists, in addition to the default Windows Update method, a link to the Windows Update Catalog, which grants you access to standalone manual installer packages.
In typical bizarrely non-linear Microsoft fashion, the Update Catalog requires the use of Internet Explorer specifically. Microsoft Edge, Windows 10’s vaunted successor for Internet Explorer, does not work with this website, nor does Google Chrome. Worse yet, accessing this website through Internet Explorer 11 requires the installation of an ActiveX control called Microsoft Update Catalog, a plug-in of which seems to have been signed back in 2013. Installing it grants you access to a website that looks like a remnant of the Silverlight era.
You then have to add your desired update packages to something of a shopping cart, and then checkout, which downloads the package not through Internet Explorer’s file download utility itself, but through an primitive download manager hosted by the ActiveX control itself, one that’s unable to replace existing files of the same name, and that requires your permission through User Account Control.
Nonsense aside, at the bottom of the update history page is an invitation to join the insider program, where all new features are tested before being baked into general release builds.
All told, the update history page is a welcome and easily accessible addition to Windows 10’s ever growing bag of tricks and a good sign that Microsoft takes its customers’ security concerns seriously.Further reading: Windows 10