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Patch Problems

August 13, 2013

I ran across this article a week or so ago, but hadn’t had a chance to put anything out. There were three patches put out in July for various products that caused issues with other software, one of which was SQL Server.  can cause issues with SQL Server 2012, though it looks like the patch was pulled. Be careful if you have administrators that tend to apply the monthly security patches.

Overall, despite the tone of the article, I’m not sure how bad this is in terms of patches. While the errors are problematic and annoying, I’m not sure these are critical issues. These aren’t causing reboots or re-installations of Windows. I’ve certainly seen worse patches released, though not in quite some time. The most disturbing item in the piece was the fact that the Windows 8/RT servicing stack update cannot be uninstalled. That’s a bit of an issue, and it concerns me as we move towards a more automated, bulk patch process.

It’s one thing for me to uninstall an application on my phone and reinstall a patched one when there’s an issue. I’ve had this happen, with vendors releasing a new version in a day or two (or for all I know, the old version), that I can reinstall. It’s quite another thing for a large vendor like Microsoft to release a patch that cripples large numbers of devices. It’s easy to pick on Microsoft, but imagine Apple, Verizon, Dropbox, etc. releases a version that crashes machines or devices. It might be significantly harder to even reconnect these devices to recover from patches that crashed core, kernel level software.

Software has bugs, and it will always have bugs. Patches will always be needed, and IMHO, should be included as part of some warranty for digital goods. However I think patching needs to be considered at the beginning, with installation and removal, as well as user option-to-install, built into all software for sale.

Steve Jones

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