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Operating system (OS) manufacturers generally introduce patches to make sure your OS is protected against the latest threats from cyberspace and to make sure it is still running smoothly. Microsoft, however, decided to kill off patch notes, making it more confusing for those who are searching for what the updates did to their system and what they could do to fix it. The people most affected by this change? Do-it-yourself techies, who have more knowledge than the average user and who can troubleshoot their own devices, or those I consider to be the layer between the non-techie and the techies and programmers.

When I received my Windows 10 upgrade, like many people, I decided to upgrade right away. However, I was cautious as problems have arisen in the past as a result of my upgrading (my Windows Vista to Windows 7 upgrade forced me to upgrade hardware as well). While the initial upgrade went without incident, the first cumulative update caused something I have never seen before—a reboot cycle that eventually reversed the update back to the original release of Windows 10. We solved the problem, which was a missing user profile causing the reboot cycle, but it still required a little bit of Googling and help from a very tech-savvy friend of mine via Skype, all from my still-yet-to-be-upgraded Windows 7 laptop.

Why did Windows kill the patch notes and leave it with an ambiguous message? “This update includes improvements to enhance the functionality of Windows 10” is the message users get when they decide to update Windows. Some have likened Microsoft’s removal of patch notes to trusting them that their OS won’t cause issues. Along with endless reboot cycles, users who managed to successfully upgrade reported problems with the Windows Store as well. In doing away with patch notes, Microsoft has also done away with distinguishing between security updates, feature updates, and bug fixes, which are general mainstays of patch notes, and made it unclear what bug fixes or feature updates do. This has caused troubleshooting to become more than just looking up the solution online.

To find solutions to the reboot cycle, one might have to go into the registry (done by typing “regedit” in the search bar). This solution often requires technical know-how and could be extremely damaging to your system if certain registry settings are changed. Another solution is to download third party programs to check the registry and system files to see what is causing the issue. Some of these programs are not well-marketed, and are thus unfamiliar to the average user.

Microsoft responded to user complaints regarding the lack of patch notes. “As we have done in the past, we post KB articles relevant to most updates which we’ll deliver with Windows as a service. Depending on the significance of the update and if it is bringing new functionality to Windows customers, we may choose to do additional promotion of new features as we deploy them,” Microsoft told The Register. While already a headache for the tech-savvy, it could mean even bigger problems for those who aren’t.

Microsoft, however, has announced that they will be giving back patch notes to enterprise users. Windows 10 Enterprise has 1.5 million computers running, and it could take the edge off of the criticism it received, at least from enterprise users. “We’ve heard that feedback from enterprise customers so we’re actively working on how we provide them with information about what’s changing and what new capabilities and new value they’re getting,” said Jim Alkove, Director of Program Management for the Enterprise and Security group at Microsoft.

While the new “patch notes” are non-descriptive, people should start reading up on how to troubleshoot their own devices in case a cumulative update causes it to have problems.

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