First thank you for bringing this up – I have addressed this informally with a few people but it deserves its own forum post since people have been concerned since delta updates stopped.
The confusion here is that sometimes the term “express updates” gets used interchangeably for getting Windows updates via the older Express protocol or getting updates via the new Express file format (PSFx).
BigFix does not support the older, now deprecated in Windows quality updates Express protocol. To use this we would have had to add support to the code ahead of other key features required by clients, and clients who wanted to use it would have had to maintain an additional WSUS based infrastructure to get the updates through the Express protocol. Based on client feedback we did not add the support.
BigFix does support the new Express file format (PSFx), which is the new default file format. Back in Windows 10 Redstone 5 (1809) there was a major change to the way Microsoft releases Windows patches by switching to PSFx. BigFix supports the new file format without any code changes, it just works and we get the benefit of the smaller patch load.
Here are a few links to give you some context:
The question we had is what is so magical about PSFx that we get a major improvement over all the previous updates efforts? You can read the whitepaper (the 2nd link) but my rough interpretation:
- Previous efforts to patch took into account patching from all versions. So if you wanted to get to say patch #5, it would account for the all the combinations of files at golden master, patch #1, patch #2, patch #3, patch #4. All of those versions to address all those combinations where always kept in all of the updates, making them grow and grow.
- All of the Windows files can always be rolled back to golden master to undo things.
- PSFx is about always rolling back before you patch so you always only have to deal with one combination – rolling forward from golden master to patch #5 in my example.
The next question we asked Microsoft when they told us about this was “why didn’t we do this years ago?”. Yeah well, live and learn is the short version we got back.
The final question we had was “this is great but can we add PSFx support to all previous Redstone releases, not just Redstone 5 and beyond?”. That generated some discussion but essentially they said at this time Microsoft is sticking to only Redstone 5 and beyond support.
So again to summarize – we don’t do the Express protocol (which is now deprecated, as you can read in the first link that now there is only one quality update type – PSFx). We do support PSFx which is significantly optimized over previous patch types and does not require code changes so BigFix works with it today. And PSFx only applies to Redstone 5 and beyond.
Does that make sense? Let me know if you need additional information.
IBM Offering Manager BigFix Patch and WebUI