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What to know about the servicing stack update and latest cumulative update in Windows

Servicing stack updates provide fixes to the servicing stack, the component that installs Windows updates. Additionally, it contains the “component-based servicing stack” (CBS), which is a key underlying component for several elements of Windows deployment, such as DISM, SFC, changing Windows features or roles, and repairing components. The CBS is a small component that typically does not have updates released every month. You can search to install the latest available Servicing stack update for Windows 10. Here are some related contents. How to automate Windows Update with PowerShell and Task Scheduler, Windows as a Service: Windows 10 Feature and Quality Updates, how to enable or disable automatic software updates on Mac, how to set up and configure Windows server update services (WSUS), and how to configure SSL between WSUS upstream and downstream servers.

Microsoft announced on 09.02.2021 that they have released servicing stack update (SSU) for Windows 10 and this applies to the various Windows version (1909, 1809, 1607, and 1507). Starting from February 2021, these SSU will be a prerequisite for receiving the new cumulative update (LCU and SSU packaged together) for these versions of Windows 10 (1909, 1809, 1607, and 1507).

As of the time of writing, Microsoft is currently considering switching over to the new combined package format for these earlier versions(2004, 20H1, and 20H2, etc) in the coming months and they advise that organization deploy the February 2021 SSU across your organization to take advantage of the upcoming capability. This announcement gives you plenty of time to prepare for the upcoming changes and deploy the September 2020 SSU and LCU broadly across your organization.

It is worth noting that, to ensure devices are up to date, IT administrators who manage devices using on-premises methods must select and deploy the correct servicing stack update (SSU) with the latest cumulative update (LCU). In some cases, a specific version of the SSU must already be installed in order to install the latest LCU. If the device in question does not have the required SSU already installed, the LCU will fail to install.

If you do nit have the SSU installed and the LCU fails, this can be a daunting task to handle. From Microosft doeumenatation, the following errors are possible.
- First, it doesn't occur every month.
- The error message that the LCU failure can produce, "update isn't applicable," doesn't make the root cause immediately apparent.

Therefore, having an LCU fail to install error can be confusing and frustrating for the end-user and IT admin alike, but can also hurt security compliance. With the Windows Update experience where the SSU and LCU are deployed together to the device, the update stack automatically orchestrates the installation, so both are applied correctly.

Why was the SSU instroduced? This will ensure Windows Administrator can effortlessly manage cloud and on-premise devices by having a a single cumulative monthly update to deploy that includes the month’s cumulative fixes and the appropriate servicing stack updates for that month, if applicable. They also stated that the upcoming changes will ensure that the SSU and LCU are provided together under a single payload to both Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) and Microsoft Catalog.

Servicing stack updates improve the reliability of the update process to mitigate potential issues while installing the latest quality updates and feature updates. If you don't install the latest servicing stack update, there's a risk that your device can't be updated with the latest Microsoft security fixes.

If you use WSUS and the Configuration Manager in your environment, you will select and deploy the monthly cumulative update. The latest SSU will automatically be applied correctly. Since the introduction of SSU, the following will no longer be relevant to IT Administrators.

  • Searching for both the SSU and LCU KB articles. All release notes and file information for monthly cumulative updates, including those related to the servicing stack, will be in a single KB article!
  • Determining if this month’s LCU has a dependency on a specific SSU version or newer and ensuring that the right SSU and LCU are deployed and installed in the correct order. The SSU and LCU will be packaged together, and the client will orchestrate the installation. Select the monthly cumulative update you want to deploy, and we will take care of the rest!
  • End users confused at seeing multiple servicing releases in a month. The Window Update Settings and History pages will now look the same as it does for those who update from the cloud today!

To proceed with the rollout of the SSU, and to start to receive a single monthly cumulative update package containing the SSU and LCU, you will first need to broadly deploy the September 2020 SSU or any later SSU on all Windows 10, version 2004 devices in your organization.

When are they SSU released? Servicing stack updates are released depending on new issues or vulnerabilities. On rare occasions will a servicing stack update be released on demand to address an issue impacting systems installing the monthly security update. Starting in November 2018 new servicing stack updates will be classified as “Security” with a severity rating of “Critical.”

I hope you found this blog post helpful. If you have any questions, please let me know in the comment session.

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