Description of the standard terminology that is used to describe Microsoft software updates
This article describes the standard terminology that
Microsoft is adopting to describe software updates.
Microsoft is adopting the following standard terminology to
describe software updates:
Definition: A connector is a software component that is
designed to support connections between software.
- Critical-on-demand (COD)
Definition: A Critical-on-Demand hotfix is requested by a customer who experiences significant loss or degradation of business services.
Additional information: These hotfixes can be requested by any customer, regardless of their support level, if the customer meets the criteria for the request. These hotfixes are released on or before a mutually agreed-upon date based on the customer’s need. These hotfix builds can contain one or more fixes.
- Critical update
Definition: A critical update is a broadly released fix
for a specific problem that addresses a critical, non-security-related
Additional information: Critical updates are available for
customers to download and are accompanied by a Microsoft Knowledge Base
- Cumulative update (CU)
Definition: 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.
Additional Information: This update can be requested by any customer, regardless of their support level. These updates are released on every two months.
- Development kit
Definition: 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.
Definition: A driver is a software component that is
designed to support new hardware.
- Feature pack
Definition: 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)
Definition: 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.
Additional information: A GDR cannot be requested by a customer. Microsoft determines whether a specific hotfix is classified and delivered as a GDR through an internal process. A GDR is released through the Microsoft Download Center. A GDR may also be released through Microsoft Update or Windows Update.
A hotfix package does not replace a service pack. A hotfix package is optional. A hotfix package can be installed or uninstalled at any time. Additionally, hotfix packages are cumulative. Therefore, the latest on-demand hotfix package or cumulative update hotfix package includes all previously released hotfixes.
Definition: Guidance includes scripts, sample code, and
technical documentation that is designed to help deploy and use a product or a
Definition: 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.
information: Hotfixes are distributed by Microsoft Customer Service and Support.
Customers may not redistribute hotfixes without written, legal consent from
- On-demand (OD)
Definition: 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.
Additional information: These hotfixes can be requested by any customer, regardless of their support level, if the customer meets the criteria for the request. These hotfixes are released on or before a mutually agreed-upon date based on the customer’s need. This hotfix build can contain one or more fixes.
- Public update (PU)
Definition: A public update (PU) is an update that contains both security and nonsecurity fixes. Public updates are released each month. All customers can download PUs, regardless of support level. Public updates include all previously released security fixes.
- Security update
Definition: 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,
Additional information: Microsoft security updates are
available for customers to download and are accompanied by two documents: a
security bulletin and a Microsoft Knowledge Base article.
For more information about the format of Microsoft Knowledge Base articles for Microsoft
security updates, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
Description of the format of Microsoft Knowledge Base articles for Microsoft Security Updates
- Service pack
Definition: 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.
Additional information: Microsoft service packs
are available for download and are accompanied by a Microsoft Knowledge Base
- Software update
Definition: 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
Additional information: A Microsoft software
update is accompanied by a Microsoft Knowledge Base article.
Definition: A tool is a utility or a feature that helps
to complete a task or a set of tasks.
Definition: An update is a widely released fix for a
specific problem. An update addresses a noncritical, non-security-related
Additional information: Microsoft updates are available for
customers to download and are accompanied by a Microsoft Knowledge Base
- Update rollup
Definition: 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).
Additional information: Microsoft update
rollups are available for customers to download and are accompanied by a
Microsoft Knowledge Base article. Customers may not redistribute update rollups without written, legal consent from Microsoft.
Definition: 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
For more information about how Microsoft corrects software
after it is released, visit the following Microsoft Web site:
Article ID: 824684 - Last Review: April 18, 2013 - Revision: 15.0
- Customer Service and Support Information
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