There was and is no urgent reason for installing the patches from December 2019, other than the imminent arrival of the patch from January Tuesday, January 14th. The only major problem awaits those who install Win7 patches (or .NET patches) manually. .
With most of Microsoft on vacation, the December 2019 harvest of Windows, Office, .NET and other patches left us happy unharmed, unless you manually install Win7 / Server 2008 patches (or patches .uri). In this case, a strange and poorly documented installation sequence for updating the KB 4531786 stack caused many manual proofreaders (and administrators) to drink.
A big change this month: if you’re running Windows 10, I think it’s a good idea to upgrade to Win10 version 1903. The last time 1903 collapsed was three months ago, and things have stabilized since then.
As usual, Patch Lady Susan Bradley has a detailed analysis in the Patch Watch column, with a full number of patches on patches on the Patch Master List (paywall, donation request).
Here’s how to upgrade your system (relatively) safely.
Make a full backup
Make a full backup of your system image before installing the latest patches.
There is a non-zero chance that patches, even the latest and greatest patches of patches, will stain your device. It’s best to have a backup that you can reinstall even if the device refuses to turn on. This, in addition to the usual need for system restore points.
There are many full-image backup products, including at least two free Macrium Reflect Free and EaseUS Todo Backup products. For Win 7 users, if you don’t back up regularly, take a look at this topic started by Cybertooth for more details. You have good, free and not so free options.
Patch Win7, Win8.1 or associated servers
Microsoft is blocking Windows 7 and 8.1 updates on recent computers. If you’ve been running Windows 7 or 8.1 on a computer 24 months or newer, follow the instructions in AKB 2000006 or the @ MrBrian summary of the @ radosuaf method to make sure you can use Windows Update to apply the updates.
For most Windows 7 and 8.1 users, I recommend following AKB 2000004: How to apply the Win7 and 8.1 monthly packages. You should have a Windows patch, dated December 10 (Patch Tuesday patch), maybe an Office patch, and possibly a .NET patch.
If you insist on manually installing security-only patches for Win7 and Server 2008 (I call it the «Group B» approach in AskWoody), there are a number of complex interactions with the November and December service stack updates. You will need to restart at least twice – @PKCano details on the AskWoody website. When in doubt, ask questions on the site! It’s easy and free.
Please note that some or all of the patches expected in December may not appear or, if they do appear, may not be checked. DO NOT CHECK unmarked patches. If you are not very confident, DO NOT LOOK FOR ADDITIONAL PATCHES. In particular, if you install the December monthly set, you won’t need (and probably won’t see) the concomitant patches from November. Don’t mess with Microsoft’s mother.
If you see KB 4493132, the annoying «Get Windows 10» patch, make sure it’s not checked.
Watch out for driver updates – it’s much better to get them from the manufacturer’s website.
After installing the latest monthly build, if you intend to minimize Microsoft spying, follow the steps in AKB 2000007: Disabling Win7 and 8.1 Worst Spying. If you want to completely remove telemetry, see the detailed instructions from @ abbodi86 in AKB 2000012: How to neutralize telemetry and keep the cumulative monthly pattern of Windows 7 and 8.1.
If you’re worried that Windows 7 will reach the end of support later this month, don’t worry. About a quarter of all Windows users will happily get over the end of support, just like your Win7 won’t stop abruptly from January 14th. You have many options and not all of them end with Windows. We follow closely the alternatives from the Seven Semper Fi series on AskWoody.
Patch Win10 and associated servers
If you are running Win10 version 1803, 1809, Server 1809, Server 2019 or any earlier version of Windows 10, I urge you to upgrade to Win10 version 1903. (You can find your version by typing winver in the search box on the bottom left corner and pressing Enter.) There are detailed upgrade instructions, with the corresponding warnings, here: Why – and how – I move the Win10 production machines to version 1903.
Win10 1903 is far from perfect, but it seems to be relatively stable at the moment. The only big advantage: it allows everyone to pause updates with a few clicks. This feature has my vote for the biggest upgrade (maybe the only major) to Win10 in the last four years or more.
If you insist on using Win10 version 1809, follow the steps in Everything is clear to install the Microsoft patches from November to update 1809. If you are on Win10 version 1909, I assume you jumped the gun, if not the shark, but the instructions here will function.
If you’ve followed my usual tips by clicking «Pause Updates for 7 Days» three times, your device should have the patches installed by December through the end of the month. You’re in good shape.
If you haven’t followed this tip, it’s time to start using your Redmond rights – click Start> Settings (wheel icon)> Update and Security. Click Windows Update on the left, then click «Pause Updates for 7 Days.» Then click the newly revealed link that says «Pause updates for another 7 days» and click it again. It stops all updates for 21 days, which historically has been long enough for Microsoft to fix its most glaring bugs. (Notable recent exceptions: File Explorer search error in Win10 version 1909 and Keystone Kops IE 0day patch errors in September / October 2019).
If you see an offer for an optional upgrade (screenshot), don’t click Download and install now. There is a reason why Microsoft considers these patches to be «optional».
January updates should appear next week. With the Win10 development team back from a well-deserved Christmas nap, expect some significant changes. Some of them (fix Win10 1909 File Explorer search error?) Might be worth it.