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February 24, 2024

Microsoft’s New Update: Refresh Your Windows 11 PC Without a Reboot

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Microsoft is trialling a novel update technique for Windows 11 which will facilitate the installation of critical updates without necessitating a system restart.

This technique, referred to as “hot patching,” has been operational on Windows Server and Xbox for some duration.

The introduction of hot patching for Windows 11 is anticipated to coincide with the release of version 24H2 later this present year.

One aspect Windows users dislike about Windows is the interruptions to their work process or gaming time caused by Windows updates. A popup often appears requesting users to restart their PC to finish the installation of current security updates. Such interruptions occur approximately once per month, reflecting Microsoft’s security update frequency for Windows PCs.

The company might soon make the traditional update method obsolete as it’s now testing “hot patching” for Windows 11 systems. Currently used in certain Windows Server editions and Xbox, hot patching may soon be implemented on devices operating on Windows 11.

The newest Windows 11 Dev Channel build is conducting a trial of reboot-free security updates on PCs that have “Virtualization Based Security” activated. Once put in place, the Windows build number will transition to “ge_release_svc_hotpatch_prod1.240211-0859.”

So, how does it function? According to Microsoft’s documentation, the hot patching process works by “patching the in-memory code of running processes without having to restart the process.”

From what my sources tell me, Microsoft plans to use hot patching in Windows 11 to provide monthly security updates without necessitating user restarts. Nonetheless, this does not imply that restarts will become completely unnecessary for future updates. More comprehensive baseline updates, which require a computer restart, are a essential component of the hot patching process and would still be needed periodically.

This means in an ideal world, only four monthly security updates will require a reboot a year, those being in January, April, July, and October. The other months will be serviced via hot patching, which won’t require a reboot. Of course, any major security updates, bug fixes, and feature updates can be delivered at any time if necessary, and will still require a reboot even outside of those set months.

According to my sources, Microsoft is hoping to ship hot patching later this year alongside the release of Windows 11 version 24H2 on x86-64 machines. ARM64 devices will get support for hot patching in 2025, if the schedule doesn’t slip. It’s unclear if hot patching will be available to all Windows 11 users, or if it will be reserved for Windows 11 commercial editions such as Enterprise, Education, and Windows 365.

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