Microsoft: Windows Autopatch is coming soon. Here's what you need to know

A new service could make the rush to update after 'Patch Tuesday' a thing of the past.

Microsoft is rolling out an automatic Windows and Office software update service to its enterprise customers, which aims to turn 'Patch Tuesday' into just another Tuesday.

Microsoft is releasing Windows Autopatch for its customers on enterprise E3 and upward contracts. The company revealed some information at its Windows hybrid work virtual event, where it explained how the Windows 11 could help businesses, but now it has provided more detail. 

Windows Autopatch will be released in July 2022, Microsoft says in an FAQ. The managed service will deliver Windows 10 and Windows 11 quality and feature updates for drivers, firmware, and Microsoft 365 apps like Teams, Word, Outlook and Excel.

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Businesses haven't adopted Windows 11 quickly due to Microsoft's security-focussed minimum hardware requirements, but the software giant is betting that most enterprises will refresh hardware by the time Windows 10 support ends in October 2025. 

The Autopatch service is tied to Patch Tuesdays and aims to help "IT pros to do more for less", it says in a blogpost.    

"This service will keep Windows and Office software on enrolled endpoints up-to-date automatically, at no additional cost. IT admins can gain time and resources to drive value. The second Tuesday of every month will be 'just another Tuesday'," Microsoft says

Making sure software is up to date has perhaps never been more important. The White House is worried enough about Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean state-sponsored hackers and ransomware that it recently told all US organizations to enable multi-factor authentication

"Security postures must be hardened as new threats emerge. Innovations in hardware and software enhance usability and productivity. Enterprises must continually respond to stay competitive, enhance protection, and optimize performance," Microsoft says. 

The pace of change has introduced "security gaps" that will catch late adopters on the back foot, according to Microsoft. 

"A security gap forms when quality updates that protect against new threats aren't adopted in a timely fashion. A productivity gap forms when feature updates that enhance users' ability to create and collaborate aren't rolled out. As gaps widen, it can require more effort to catch up," Microsoft says. 

For Windows Autopatch to work, customers need have Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), Microsoft's Intune mobile device management service, and be running supported versions of Windows 10 and 11.

Microsoft notes that Autopatch doesn't require "specific hardware" but its Windows 11 hardware requirements still apply. 

The company will roll the updates out to a small set of devices first before expanding them to other devices. The approach sounds like its gradual roll outs of Windows 10 based on Microsoft's machine learning analysis of hardware and drivers. But admins can pause Autoupdate if they run in to problems and can roll back versions when needed. 

"The outcome is to assure that registered devices are always up to date and disruption to business operations is minimized, which will free an IT department from that ongoing task," it says. 

The service doesn't support Windows Server OS and Windows multi-session. Some non-Microsoft drivers are supported through the service. Drivers approved for "automatic" are delivered through the service but drivers that are "manual" won't be. All Surface devices will get driver updates via the service. 

Microsoft also explains that Windows Autopatch is different to Windows Update for Business because it is a managed service that it takes care of. 

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