With a few exceptions, all’s clear to install Microsoft’s October patches

If you had automatic update turned on at the beginning of October, you got clobbered with a bug-infested, out-of-band update for an IE-related zero-day that never appeared in real life. Later in the month, those with automatic update turned on were treated to a wide assortment of bugs (Start and Search fails, RDP redlines, older Visual Basic program blasts) – only some of which were solved with the month’s final, optional, non-security patches.

It’s now time to install the October patches. Here’s a guide to what might go bump in the night, and what you can do about it.

For users manually installing Windows 7 and 8.1 (and related Server) Security-only patches to avoid Microsoft’s pernicious snooping/telemetry, I have good news. For October, we haven’t detected the full-monty telemetry packages that were lurking in the July and September “Security-only” updates. 

A safe update

Here’s how to get your system updated the (relatively) safe way.

Step 1. Make a full system image backup before you install the latest patches.

There’s a non-zero chance that the patches — even the latest, greatest patches of patches of patches — will hose your machine. Best to have a backup that you can reinstall, even if your machine refuses to boot. This is in addition to the usual need for System Restore points.