Microsoft announced on TechNet that they are changing the servicing models for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Updates for Windows 7, 8.1, Server 2008 RS, Server 2012, and Server 2012 R2 will now all be rolled into once a month cumulative updates.
Up until now, users or admins could pick and choose which Windows updates were deployed on their machine. While this gave more granular control to the end user, it also results in a greater degree of fragmentation between devices. This fragmentation often leads to greater chance of errors and inconsistency in the update process.
So to remedy this, Microsoft is switching the servicing model to a singular monthly update. All of the updates for the month will be released together in a single download. That single download for each month will also be cumulative; meaning it will contain the updates for the previous months.
Microsoft's explains their intentions for the switch to this model by saying:
The new rollup model gives you fewer updates to manage, greater predictability, and higher quality updates. The outcome increases Windows operating system reliability, by eliminating update fragmentation and providing more proactive patches for known issues. Getting and staying current will also be easier with only one rollup update required.
This will apply to both security and non-security updates. And the .NET Framework will similarly be moving to a monthly rollup model for all future updates. The monthly rollup process is set to start this October.
This will bring Windows 7 and 8.1 servicing closer to the new Windows-as-a-Service model. With Windows 10, Microsoft switched to cumulative updates which couldn't be bypassed, only temporarily delayed. The difference is with Windows 7 and 8.1, users can still ultimately forgo updates, or at least choose precisely how long they want to wait to accept an update. But now Windows 7 and 8.1 users won't be able to pick and choose each specific patch. Ultimately this should lead to a more secure and stable process of updating the previous two versions of Windows.