Patches/updates/upgrades are a mess. That’s nothing new, and certainly some steps forward have been taken – Microsoft’s automatic update system works remarkably well. Many of the updates are necessary and important, but it makes it impossible to reach that stable place where things just work.

I’m usually more frustrated than happy when other programs alert me to updates. Java and InstallShield put little icons by the clock and pop up balloons, updates to Quickbooks take forever to install, Adobe keeps sending updates for its “help center” that seem uncompelling, every vendor has its own technique until the whole process becomes a blur. There’s no way to tell what’s important and no confidence that the update will be a step forward.

Microsoft will not be releasing any patches this week on its normal once-monthly schedule. (Did you know there was a regular schedule? The IT community calls it “Patch Tuesday.”) There will be “two high-priority non-security updates through Windows Update and Software Update Services and four high priority non-security updates through Microsoft Update and Windows Server Update Services.” You’re not the only one who has no idea what that means. Will our computers reboot on Tuesday night?

Appparently we’re not done with the “Windows Genuine Advantage” updates, either, which most recently required an annoying manual install.

On Tuesday, Windows Live OneCare will get its normal virus definition updates – and a support engineer said very, very quietly that the awful bug will be fixed at the same time that caused OneCare to occasionally quarantine Outlook .PST files. (Look on page 8 of this forum thread.)

Windows Desktop Search 3.01 is a significant upgrade to the WDS program, with underlying changes in the technology that make it faster and more stable. It fixes a bug in WDS 2.6 – when the previous version indexed network shares, files would sometimes become read-only for no apparent reason. If you’re using WDS, you should upgrade.

But this new version has its own bug that breaks Outlook under some circumstances. It won’t affect most of you, but it wouldn’t surprise me to be talking about it to someone in the next few months.

It’s getting more complex, folks, and there’s no end in sight.

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