Terms used by Microsoft to describe the various software updates released by it

You may have noticed that Microsoft uses various terms like Critical Update, Cumulative Update, Hotfix, Security Update, Upgrade, etc to the various software updates and enhancements that it releases. This post describes the standard terminology that Microsoft is adopting to describe software updates.

Microsoft adopts the following standard terminology to describe software updates. They have been each described below  in short.

Connector. A connector is a software component that is designed to support connections between software.

Critical-on-demand (COD). A Critical-on-Demand hotfix is requested by a customer who experiences significant loss or degradation of business services.

Critical Update. A critical update is a broadly released fix for a specific problem that addresses a critical, non-security-related bug.

Cumulative update (CU). A CU is a roll-up update that contains all previous critical on-demand hotfixes to date. Additionally, a CU contains fixes for issues that meet the hotfix acceptance criteria. These criteria may include the availability of a workaround, the effect on the customer, the reproducibility of the problem, the complexity of the code that must be changed, or other reasons.

Development Kit. A development kit is software that is designed to help developers write new programs. Development kits typically include a visual builder, an editor, and a compiler.

Driver. A driver is a software component that is designed to support new hardware.

Feature Pack. A feature pack is new product functionality that is first distributed outside the context of a product release and that is typically included in the next full product release.

General Distribution Release (GDR). A GDR fixes an issue that has broad customer impact or that has security implications. A GDR is determined and issued only by Microsoft. Microsoft tries to release as few GDRs as possible.

Guidance. Guidance includes scripts, sample code, and technical documentation that is designed to help deploy and use a product or a technology.

Hotfix. A hotfix is a single, cumulative package that includes one or more files that are used to address a problem in a product and are cumulative at the binary and file level. A hotfix addresses a specific customer situation and may not be distributed outside the customer’s organization.

On-demand (OD). An on-demand hotfix must meet certain criteria. The customer’s business must be functioning with minor or no impediment of services. These criteria include a lack of an effective workaround, a critical business effect, or other reasons.

Security Update. A security update is a widely released fix for a product-specific, security-related vulnerability. Security vulnerabilities are rated based on their severity. The severity rating is indicated in the Microsoft security bulletin as critical, important, moderate, or low.

Service Pack. A service pack is a tested, cumulative set of all hotfixes, security updates, critical updates, and updates. Service packs may also contain additional fixes for problems that are found internally since the release of the product and a limited number of customer-requested design changes or features.

Software Update. A software update is any update, update rollup, service pack, feature pack, critical update, security update, or hotfix that is used to improve or to fix a software product that is released by Microsoft Corporation.

Tool. A tool is a utility or a feature that helps to complete a task or a set of tasks.

Update. An update is a widely released fix for a specific problem. An update addresses a noncritical, non-security-related bug.

Update Rollup. An update rollup is a tested, cumulative set of hotfixes, security updates, critical updates, and updates that are packaged together for easy deployment. A rollup generally targets a specific area, such as security, or a component of a product, such as Internet Information Services (IIS).

Upgrade. An upgrade is a software package that replaces an installed version of a product with a newer version of the same product. The upgrade process typically leaves existing customer data and preferences intact while replacing the existing software with the newer version

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Anand Khanse aka HappyAndyK is an end-user Windows enthusiast, a Microsoft MVP in Windows, since 2006, and the Admin of TheWindowsClub.com. Please create a System Restore Point before trying out any software & be careful about any third-party offers while installing freeware. Add me on Google+.
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