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February 25, 2024

Latest Feature of Windows 11: Eliminating Reboots for OS Updates

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Something to look forward to: Hot patching, already present in Xbox, theoretically pleases gamers, however, it necessitates the activation of virtualization-based security, potentially reducing performance. Nonetheless, many other Windows 11 users are likely to be thrilled at the prospect of no longer needing to restart their systems with every security update.

Microsoft is experimenting with a way for Windows 11 users to implement security updates without having to restart their computers. This news is reported by Zac Bowden of Windows Central, who initially noticed this change in the minutiae of a Microsoft preview build before discussing the update with additional sources. “Hot patching” patches the in-memory code of systems that are currently running, eliminating the need for a process restart.

Microsoft is already utilizing hot patching on some Windows Server editions, including the non-Azure versions of Windows Server 2022. This might provide insight as to why Windows 11 is the next candidate for hot patching.

Microsoft concedes that hot patching can alleviate numerous IT issues such as reboot failures and coordinating multi-tier workloads. It also boosts productivity by allowing users to operate their PCs longer and enhances security if users are postponing updates due to the inconvenience of downloading a patch. Let’s admit, Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday, the scheduled security fix release on every second Tuesday of each month, can at times seem daunting.

Hot patching is also available on Xbox, which should theoretically delight gamers were it not for one hiccup. Microsoft is testing the new feature in the Windows 11 dev channel, but it is only doing so on Windows Insiders’ machines that have VBS enabled. Hot patching might require enabling virtualization-based security, which gamers might have disabled to boost performance.

Also, according to Bowden’s sources, the change won’t entirely eliminate reboots. They still will be periodically required, maybe as often as every few months, for more comprehensive updates. Hot patching is typically delivered as small code changes, which is how they are able to integrate into the running system.

The new feature will be part of Windows 11 24H2, which is expected to arrive later this year, although it is unclear if hot patching will be available to all Windows 11 users, or just be limited to Windows 11 commercial editions such as Enterprise, Education, and Windows 365.

Windows 11 24H2 is the next major Windows update set to arrive later this year, making it highly unlikely that Microsoft will release “Windows 12” in the second half of 2024. Besides the hot patching feature, rumors say that Windows 11 24H2 will have numerous AI features including an advanced Copilot that will work in the background.

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