This month's second Patch Tuesday brings 34 Windows updates, all optional

The bad news: Microsoft just released 34 updates for Windows. The good news? They're all optional, none are security-related, and most fix issues you're unlikely to ever encounter. Here's a full list of what you'll see in Windows Update.

It's Patch Tuesday again.

No, you didn't oversleep by a few weeks. Today is the other Patch Tuesday, when Microsoft delivers optional, non-security-related updates for Windows. Normally, Microsoft releases updates on the second and fourth Tuesday of the month. This crop arrived a bit early, it appears.

Today's list is much larger than normal, with 34 patches all rated Optional, meaning they will not be installed automatically. You have to open Windows Update and manually select one or more updates to install them.

Not all of these updates are applicable to every Windows version, of course. If your PC runs Windows 7, you get off relatively easy, with a maximum of six updates in the pipeline. (My test PC running Windows 7 Enterprise only had three updates available.)

On a newer device, though, you'll have a longer list to sort through. I counted 20 fresh updates on my Windows 8.1 desktop. Virtually all of them are tiny. The total download for all 20 patches was only 20 MB.

Most of today's patches represent fixes for relatively obscure conditions, including hardware combinations you probably don't own. On systems where the update doesn't apply, you should be able to install it anyway and not see any adverse consequences. If you'd prefer not to install one or more updates, you can open the desktop Control Panel, right-click on an update, and choose the option to hide it.

windows-update-hide.jpg

Trying to figure out which of these updates is necessary and which is superfluous can be a challenge. In Windows Update, the description for all these updates is bland, generic text. "Install this update to resolve issues in Windows."

You have to click More Info and open the associate Knowledge Base (KB) article to get the full details for each update.

windows-update-details.jpg

I've done that work for all of the desktop updates in today's entire monster list. Here's an inventory, starting with the updates that apply to Windows 7:

The remaining updates are for Windows 8.1 (and, in most cases, Windows Server 2012 R2) but do not apply to Windows 7.

Some of the items on Microsoft's master list for today's batch of updates didn't appear on my test systems and also don't(yet) have corresponding articles. Two of them are listed as Dynamic Updates, which means they're only used when you set up a new Windows PC and choose the option to download dynamic updates.

I'll update this post if any of those patches turn out to be significant.

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