Microsoft to Retire Security Bulletins in January 2017

This will obviously mean a huge change in the way that Microsoft handles security updates, but unfortunately, many of the details as to exactly how this new service will work haven’t been revealed yet.

Microsoft announced on yesterday’s Patch Tuesday for November that it plans to retire the publication of Security Bulletins in January 2017. Security bulletins like MS16-129 reveal information about patched vulnerabilities. This includes information about the vulnerability, affected software, severity ratings, deployment information and more.

The company has created a new portal called Security Updates Guide which can best be described as a searchable database of security updates released for Windows and other products. Microsoft plans to make it the sole destination for security update information starting February 2017.

Instead of publishing bulletins to describe related vulnerabilities, the new portal lets our customers view and search security vulnerability information in a single online database.

Security Updates Guide

security updates guide

The Security Updates Guide database lists publication dates, KB Article IDs, and the affected products in a table.

It features a data filter at the top to limit the listing to a particular time period, and a text search option that enables you to find updates by product, KB article or CVE.

A search for Windows 7 returns updates that are released for the operating system for instance, while a KB ID search that particular update.

A new Rest API can be leveraged to obtain “Microsoft security update” information. This eliminates the need for companies and individuals to use screen-scraping or other methods to obtain update information.

The table looks less useful from a user perspective. One reason for that is that it does not highlight KB article titles. While you know that updates apply to your systems or products by looking at the “applies to” column, there is virtually no information on the update itself.

You do need to click on the KB article link to open it to get the information. It is unclear yet how this will work when security bulletins are not released anymore.

The KB article 3197867, which is the Security Only Quality Update for Windows 7 for November 2016, links to security bulletins for instance. If those are not published anymore, it seems likely that the links will point to KB articles instead as well.

Microsoft notes that Security Bulletins will be published until January 2017. After the January 2017 update, information is published only to the Security Updates Guide.

Security update information will be published as bulletins and on the Security Updates Guide until January 2017. After the January 2017 Update Tuesday release, we will only publish update information to the Security Updates Guide.

It remains to be seen as to how this will work out in the end as we don’t know all the facts yet.

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