Windows Server 2016: Express Updates shipping from 11/2018

[German]A brief information for administrators who update Windows Server 2016 via WSUS (or SCCM). Starting this month, Microsoft will roll out Express Updates again.


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In August 2017 I came across a tweet of @MSWindowsITPro, where an article was linked with information about changes in updates.

Within a blog post What’s next for Windows 10 and Windows Server quality update Microsoft employee Maliha Qureshi was explaining the upcoming changes for updates. However, the blog post was about innovations in quality updates as well as the end of delta updates on February 12, 2019.

Within this  Microsoft explicitly stated that for compatibility reasons with older, still supported, Windows 10 versions they will continue to offer Express Updates – for WSUS – every month in addition to a full update (also known as the last cumulative update or LCU). That was my level of knowledge.

Some Background with Express Updates

From what I noticed (I don’t use WSUS and Windows Server 2016), Microsoft has stopped rolling out Express Updates for Windows Server 2016 in November 2017. The reason: There has been massive trouble in October 2017 installing such Express Updates on Windows Server 2016.


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Re-enabling Express Updates for Windows Server 2016

Now Microsoft employee Joel Frauenheim, Principal Program Manager, Windows Servicing and Delivery, has published a now article Express updates for Windows Server 2016 re-enabled for November 2018 update. Within the blog post he announced, that Express Updates rollout for Windows Server 2016 will be re-enabled from November 13, 2018 patchday onward.

Frauenheim writes that the delivery of Express Updates for Windows Server 2016 has been stopped in mid-2017. The reason was that a serious problem was found which prevented the correct installation of the updates.

The problem was fixed (according to Frauenstein) in November 2017. However, the Microsoft update team took a conservative approach when releasing the Express packages. As a result, the deployment of Express updates has simply been halted since that date. The team wanted to ensure that most customers had the November 14, 2017 update (KB 4048953) installed on their server environments and were not affected by the problem. Now, however, the provision of Express Updates is resumed.

What administrators should be aware of

System administrators using WSUS and System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM) will experience the following changes as of November 13, 2018:

  • In November 2018, two packages for the Windows Server 2016 Update, a Full Update and an Express Update, will again be offered under WSUS and SCCM. 
  • System administrators who want to use Express Updates for their server environments must ensure that the target systems have performed a full update (KB4048953) since November 14, 2017. 

Only then can you be sure that the Express Update will be installed correctly from November 2018. All Windows Server 2016 systems that have not been updated since November 14, 2017 (KB4048953) will fail. These errors cause the servers to loop endlessly during the express update and consume (download) bandwidth and CPU resources through repeated update installation attempts.

If a machine runs into this state due to a missing update, the administrator must act. The solution is to deactivate the Express Update installation and run a full update once. Then the Express Updates for Windows Server 2016 should also be installable in the future.

If this is ensured, administrators should notice a significant reduction of the update package size by Express Update as of November 13, 2018. This may also affect the problem described in this blog post Windows Server 2016 and the slow update installation.

Similar articles
Microsoft announced the end of Windows 10 Delta Updates
Windows Server 2016: Slow updates


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