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Microsoft Patents On-The-Fly Software Updates

By - Source: USPTO | B 32 comments

If you like silent updates, you are going to love this idea. Instant updates that do not require your software to be restarted.

It is not exactly a new idea and took Microsoft almost eight years to get patent approval. Microsoft filed the patent already back in September of 2004 and described its approach to apply security patches to software that does not force a system to be shut down. The patent is limited to server environments in which only some instances of a software are updated while others remain unaffected and enable a system to remain fully available - which is an especially critical feature in a global organization, which relies on maximum uptime of their servers.

However, the same idea is even more interesting in a cloud server and client environment, in which your only client software may be a browser or dedicated apps. There is no reason to believe that security patches could not be applied on-the-fly in such scenarios as well and even in web browsers that use the required structures of certain instances that can be updated without compromising the overall functionality of the software. Silent updates are currently only fully available on Google Chrome (which, however, requires a restart after the update). Microsoft is gradually rolling out a similar feature set for IE and Mozilla is expected to have it fully available in Firefox 13 or 14 later this year.

It appears that we have grown accustomed to forced, silent updates. Removing the restart requirement would be another huge step for usability, especially in cloud computing scenarios.

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Top Comments
  • 12 Hide
    Northwestern , April 4, 2012 5:54 PM
    Man, I don't even have an opinion.
  • 10 Hide
    _TuxUser_ , April 4, 2012 6:40 PM
    @iceman1992:
    You need to update to an enterprise version of Linux and you can update the Linux kernel without need of reboot.
Other Comments
  • 12 Hide
    Northwestern , April 4, 2012 5:54 PM
    Man, I don't even have an opinion.
  • 2 Hide
    iceman1992 , April 4, 2012 5:55 PM
    "Not exactly a new idea", yeah, but where is the real thing?? I'd love to be able to update windows without it pestering me to reboot.
  • 5 Hide
    jackbling , April 4, 2012 5:59 PM
    I have mixed feelings on auto/silent updates. As of right now, for example, i have them enabled on chrome and ff, and to date have not had any issues from this; whatever update hit chrome yesterday or today changed dropdown boxes and broke a TON of autohotkey scripts i use to streamline ticket entry. Looks like i'll be back to manual updating for a while.

    On the lol side, the script that i run to enter a generic ticket, mistakenly entered around 20 tickets into various queues.
  • 8 Hide
    sixdegree , April 4, 2012 6:39 PM
    Just wait until Apple patent the concept of software update itself.
  • 10 Hide
    _TuxUser_ , April 4, 2012 6:40 PM
    @iceman1992:
    You need to update to an enterprise version of Linux and you can update the Linux kernel without need of reboot.
  • 0 Hide
    coreym72 , April 4, 2012 6:54 PM
    It is called auto taskkill but probably doesn't restart the app for you.
  • 2 Hide
    Benihana , April 4, 2012 6:58 PM
    Having worked in IT, usually what we do with our servers is update them a few at a time. Never all of them at once. Thus maximizing uptime, while avoiding the forced shutdown of our entire system.
  • 3 Hide
    johnfrink , April 4, 2012 7:05 PM
    Did they file it under 'No Shit, Sherlock' ?
  • 3 Hide
    DXRick , April 4, 2012 7:10 PM
    They are getting ready. By 2020 MS will have nothing better to do than become another patent troll.
  • 6 Hide
    ahnilated , April 4, 2012 7:20 PM
    I wonder how they are going to say this is something new when Linux has been doing this long before 2004. Can you say pre art?
  • 0 Hide
    ben850 , April 4, 2012 8:20 PM
    iceman1992"Not exactly a new idea", yeah, but where is the real thing?? I'd love to be able to update windows without it pestering me to reboot.


    Based off my ~2.5 years of experience with Win7 x64, I only have to reboot my computer from system updates maybe once every other week. Seems acceptable to me :) 
  • 2 Hide
    jalek , April 4, 2012 8:37 PM
    I really don't like software downloading and installing without user prompting.
    I had a machine suddenly freeze, then on reboot, the drive was trashed. The only thing my recovery tools could get were Akamai files, so it may have been a bad "silent update" or it may not, but it was definitely annoying.
  • 6 Hide
    A Bad Day , April 4, 2012 8:49 PM
    A step up from Windows xp:

    "You haz update!"

    -Delay-

    "You haz update!"

    -Delay, then walks away from computer to do something else-

    "You haz update, but now it's only a 15 minute delay or auto-restart regardless of what you were doing!"

    -Auto restart, with a two page English essay that hadn't been saved yet-

    -A person ends up washing his tongue with soap after his parents overheard him dropping the F-bomb-
  • 8 Hide
    pocketdrummer , April 4, 2012 8:51 PM
    The patent system must DIE!

    It is only hindering progress and does nothing to protect small business. In fact, big business has found all the loop holes to kill competition. Something needs to be done...
  • 7 Hide
    pocketdrummer , April 4, 2012 8:52 PM
    A Bad DayA step up from Windows xp:"You haz update!"-Delay-"You haz update!"-Delay, then walks away from computer to do something else-"You haz update, but now it's only a 15 minute delay or auto-restart regardless of what you were doing!"-Auto restart, with a two page English essay that hadn't been saved yet--A person ends up washing his tongue with soap after his parents overheard him dropping the F-bomb-


    Yeah, this needs to stop as well. Not all of us are 5 or 80 years old. We know updates are important, but sometimes getting work done on time is more important. Let us delay it indefinitely if we choose.
  • 2 Hide
    freggo , April 4, 2012 9:13 PM
    Patenting something that should have been there in the first place; I am impressed /SARCASM
  • -4 Hide
    madooo12 , April 4, 2012 9:54 PM
    _TuxUser_@iceman1992:You need to update to an enterprise version of Linux and you can update the Linux kernel without need of reboot.

    actually on ubuntu (the user friendly linux distro) I have to restart after kernel updates
  • -1 Hide
    madooo12 , April 4, 2012 9:57 PM
    A Bad DayA step up from Windows xp:"You haz update!"-Delay-"You haz update!"-Delay, then walks away from computer to do something else-"You haz update, but now it's only a 15 minute delay or auto-restart regardless of what you were doing!"-Auto restart, with a two page English essay that hadn't been saved yet--A person ends up washing his tongue with soap after his parents overheard him dropping the F-bomb-

    so you use a document editor without autosave, you deserve that
  • 6 Hide
    pjmelect , April 4, 2012 10:19 PM
    How is this patentable ? There is nothing non obvious in this, the patent system is broken and should be scrapped in its current form.
  • 8 Hide
    kewlmunky , April 4, 2012 11:31 PM
    I don't recall having to ever restart linux except during a kernel update.....
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