Should you install preview rollups for Windows?

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 25, 2018
Updated • Mar 27, 2018

Microsoft releases previews of monthly rollup updates for the operating systems Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows 2012 R2 on the third Tuesday of each month.

The company announced the switch from the classic updating scheme to monthly rollup updates for Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2012 R2 in late 2016.

These preview updates are not installed automatically through Windows Update and they won't get installed on the majority of Windows devices because of that. The preview rollups are published to WSUS and available via Windows Update as optional updates and they may also be downloaded from the Microsoft Update Catalog website.

The preview updates are non-security in nature and Microsoft will roll them out on the second Tuesday of the coming month as part of Patch Tuesday.

Note: The preview rollups contain non-security updates that Microsoft plans to include in the coming month's rollup update for the operating system and previous rollups.

The updates may be installed on any supported version of Windows and there are good reasons for installing them when they become available and for not installing them.

Should you install preview rollups for Windows?

preview monthly rollup updates windows

Should you install the monthly preview rollups or should you wait? Short answer: unless you have a reason for installing the non-security patches early, you should not.

System administrators, technicians, software developers and other professionals may install previews to test the updates on computer systems before they are made available on the second Tuesday of each month. It is ideal for testing scenarios where you want to make sure that computers you manage are not affected adversely by updates.

Home users may want to install these updates as well provided that they resolve issues that they face.

If a preview update fixes a bug that affects you negatively, you may want to install the preview update to get it resolved then and there, and not three weeks later when the updates are rolled out to the majority of devices.

You may only make the decision if you know what the updates improve on the system. Microsoft releases a -- partial -- changelog whenever it publishes new monthly preview updates.

I suggest you pay a visit to the update history pages to find out about the changes and decide whether you need that update as early as possible.

Preview updates may fix issues and make other changes that you like or need but they may also introduce new issues. It is important that you check the "known issues" section of the changelog to make sure that the updates don't introduce new issues that you may be affected by.

The January 2018 preview rollup update for Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2, for example,  introduced a issue which caused in smart card-based operations issue on affected systems.

Now You: Do you install preview updates on Windows?

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Should you install preview rollups for Windows?
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Should you install preview rollups for Windows?
Microsoft releases previews of monthly rollup updates for the operating systems Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows 2012 R2 on the third Tuesday of each month.
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  1. Tom said on January 29, 2019 at 11:39 am

    So what you are saying is I should not download them. ;-P

  2. Urzak said on March 27, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    I did not update Windows since Microsoft start to push those updates about Meltdown and Spectre (dec-jan). And when you do, two possible things happen: your system fail, or nothing noticeable changes (i. e. patch your system against things you will never heard about anymore, vs. introducing news bugs and unstabilities on your system, courtesy of Microsoft)

  3. John in Mtl said on March 27, 2018 at 6:38 am

    Unless you have a very pressing issue or a bug that was introduced by a recent patch that affects your machine, IMO you should NEVER install a Preview Patch!

    The idea behind the preview is more for sysadmins to test wether next months’ patches will break stuff on their userbase machines, and if stuff breaks they can take appropriate measures to monitor & block patches on the upcoming “patch tuesday” or report the problem to MS before they mainstream the patches. For single users, there is really no point putting yourself in the line of fire or offering your machine to be possibly mutilated by the dorks over at MS.

    Since Microsoft’s Quality Control is near non-existent these days, I wait at least 60 days before applying updates; and since Win7 & 8.1 are almost “abandonware” in Microsoft’s brave-new-world-of-the-cloud-and windows-10, there’s no need to install the so-called “Monthly Quality Rollup” ’cause there’s nothing new on the horizon for those systems. And all the major bugs have been ironed out over the years. Therefore I install security updates only, and do it manually from the MS catalog.

  4. ULBoom said on March 26, 2018 at 8:36 pm

    The ones that are supposed to be ready for mass distribution are scary enough! If I had a test machine, maybe, but I have too many other things to do, so No, I wouldn’t. I keep windows update disabled, periodically enable it to get updates, then disable immediately. Almost none of Windows’ features since Win 8 have been of interest.

    I just want the crazy machine to work!

  5. Corky said on March 26, 2018 at 7:15 pm

    The way Microsoft have botched so many updates of late i wouldn’t even install their normal patches for at least a few months, at least that gives them time to patch the patch that broke the broken patch.

  6. John Fenderson said on March 26, 2018 at 5:00 am

    Regardless of whether we’re talking about Windows previews or preleases, nightlies, etc., from any other company, people should always expect that they aren’t fully stable or without problems and that they contain more than the usual telemetry.

    People should only consider doing so if they have a special interest in the product and they can use it in a way and on a system that isn’t critical to them.

  7. Yuliya said on March 26, 2018 at 12:33 am

    Didn’t update my Win7 PC since december, all the regular updates since then were botched, I can only imagine the horror these beta updates are.

  8. George P. Burdell said on March 26, 2018 at 12:32 am

    Ditto, and well said, Tom. Same here.

    I should add that as measured by hours of use, my main system now is Linux Mint Cinnamon, which receives updates nearly every day it seems. Linux runs Pale Moon and POP Peeper nonstop for me, plus the occasional board or card game when mental diversion is needed to allow my subconscious time to resolve issues.

    Important applications on Windows 7 still tie me to my second system, but the total usage hours are a lot shorter than before, to the point where days can go by without powering it on. Many tasks can be accomplished off-line, but I keep the anti-virus updated anyway.

  9. Tom Hawack said on March 25, 2018 at 11:47 pm

    Regular Patch Tuesday being already occasionally problematic, adding ‘Preview roll-ups’ seems to me an act of heroism.

    No preview rollups, no Patch Tuesdays, not one Windows update since October 2016. And no problems here with Windows 7 The Mighty.

    1. Richard Allen said on March 26, 2018 at 2:49 am

      Heroism? You’re being polite…as usual. :)

      I’ve been doing the Windows updates with about a one month delay since the Windows XP days using Woody Leonhard’s advice for each update. I’ve never used Windows auto update on Win7 and I’ve been using the Security Only updates for the last 1.5 yrs. I have the Windows Meltdown patch installed but disabled using Steve Gibson’s portable app InSpectre, latest version now includes the CPUID. And I’m not using any Spectre patches. In all likelihood I will leave it that way. I’m using a Haswell Core i5 and don’t want to give up any I/O horsepower. If I was being honest, even if it was a Core i7 I’d probably still be hesitant. LoL

      I like to think that my paranoia about Windows update reliability is the reason I’ve not experienced any problems over the last 10 yrs with a botched update.

      1. Scoot said on March 15, 2019 at 6:54 pm

        I disable Meltdown/Spectre as well since the performance impact was mainly on a computer I use for video capture and streaming – the update hit the system particularly hard, which is obtuse since there is 0 risk for exploitation on a machine that runs 1 program.

  10. 420 said on March 25, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    this is how Microsoft tests now a days

    1. ULBoom said on March 26, 2018 at 8:39 pm

      free employees

    2. Croatoan said on March 25, 2018 at 11:15 pm

      Win 10 Home and Pro are Microsoft test base (not enough testers in Insider builds)

  11. Weilan said on March 25, 2018 at 8:07 pm

    No real reason aside from satisfying curiosity. I call this labrats’ bait.

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