Microsoft puts Windows development on lockdown

The tech giant will only work on essential security updates for all Windows iterations from May onwards

Microsoft will no longer release non-essential updates to its line of Windows operating systems due to disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

From May 2020, businesses will only receive the most important critical security updates for a swathe of Windows systems, including the recently-published Windows 10 version 1909 through to Windows Servier 2008 SP2.

Work on category C and D cumulative updates, which are optional preview releases issued in the third and fourth weeks of the month, has been put on hold due to “challenges” posed by the pandemic, the company said.

These updates are issued so Windows users can test tweaks and fixes before these are bundled into the next Patch Tuesday releases, where they’re designated category B.

“We have been evaluating the public health situation, and we understand this is impacting our customers,” an announcement reads.

“In response to these challenges we are prioritizing our focus on security updates. Starting in May 2020, we are pausing all optional non-security releases (C and D updates) for all supported versions of Windows client and server products (Windows 10, version 1909 down through Windows Server 2008 SP2).”

The monthly Patch Tuesday security updates will continue to be published as normal, Microsoft added.

This is to ensure that organisations can continue to carry out business operations as smoothly as possible, and that they’re protected from any serious bugs or security threats.

The timing and schedule of the suspension of work suggests the company is late into its development cycle for updates set to be released in April. The announcement also suggests Microsoft feels the disruptive effects of the COVID-19 outbreak to development work will continue for a long time.

It comes just days after the company said it would be pausing development work on version 81 of its Edge browser, itself a response to Google pausing its own development work on Chromium.

Coronavirus has already had a sizeable impact on businesses of all stripes and in all sectors. While the tech sector hasn’t been as severely hit as companies in the services industry, entire workforces have shifted to remote working patterns, and a host of development projects have been put on hold.

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