This is a follow-up to my post of the 16th of August.
Clearly I wasn't the only person to contact Stefan about having KB articles with Titles "Hot Fix ..." and calling them "Cumulative Upgrades" because in his post here
he makes a valiant attempt to clear up what he refers to as "SharePoint Patching".
It's long, detailed but in clear language, and probably does reflect the reality but for me while it makes as much sense as is possible it is still explaining what is an impossibly complicated and confusing way of doing things.
I recommend that you read the article several times to see the original as I here will naturally only be quoting what supports my argument !
Let's start what I think the situation should be.
1. There should be Hot Fixes which solve particular problems and Cumulative Upgrades which solve a number of problems at once (as they consist of the equivalent of a number of those same Hot Fixes)
2. The Hot fixes should have a title including the words "Hot Fix" and the Cumulative Upgrades should include in their titles the words "Cumulative Upgrades".
If these two rules (which I'm sure used to be how things were done once in the distant past) were followed *consistently* we wouldn't need any long, detailed articles from Stefan to explain things!
OK. That's the simple, understandable way I expect Microsoft to do things. Now let's look at Stefan's piece.
In his reply to my comment to his earlier post (about what he called the SP 2010 Cumulative Upgrades but which Microsoft gave titles of Hot Fixes to) he said that "SharePoint Hotfixes are always Cumulative". This is repeated in the new post where the quote is "After release of August 2014 CU I read several statements that August CU is not cumulative - but that is not correct! SharePoint fixes are always cumulative!"
This is the main confusing point because if Hot Fixes are always cumulative then why do Microsoft bring out some KB articles that have a title that includes "Hot Fix" and other articles have a title that include the words "Cumulative Upgrade"?
It takes quite a while for Stefan to get to this but my reading of his piece is that the KB articles with the words "Cumulative Upgrade" in them are a super-set of Cumulative Upgrades which he calls "Uber" Software Packages.
[Note that Stefan's native language is German and that the word "Uber" as used by him here has nothing to do with a taxi service (which Berlin has just banned!) but is in fact an anglicised version of the german word "Über" or over. The usage here is akin to Übergross or Over large rather than refering to a higher power, so an English word which comes closer to the intention here would perhaps be "Super".]
The key quote here for the Uber packages is
"The "Uber" packages which are usually released with each CU not only include patches for the components updated in the current CU but also all patches released for other components of the product"
He then points out that in August 2014 no Uber packages were issued which led to the KB articles called Hot Fixes being (by default?) Cumulative Upgrades.
Clear, maybe. Obvious, No.
Another difficulty in the Microsoft terminology can be seen in his diagram and following text in the (non-Uber) Cumulative Upgrade section of his piece.
In it he clearly explains that a Cumulative Upgrade is only a Cumulative Upgrade of a section of the SharePoint product. In other words, let's suppose you for some reason didn't patch your SharePoint Server for several months and then relied on a single monthly Cumulative Upgrade to get you up-to-date.
Tough. Mostly that would only bring you up-to-date with some of the functions or as Stefan writes
"The problematic piece here is that in the above example in April CU we don't ship fixes for Search and Excel Services. So if someone installs April CU only he will receive all WCM fixes ever released - but none of the Search of Excel Services fixes. The fix packages are cumulative - but you need more than the fixes from April CU to patch all your components to the latest version."
Let's be clear about this. Stefan has - as my title says - made a valiant attempt to describe the way Microsoft issue patches for SharePoint. The problem is that the way itself is mad - i.e. don't attack the messenger, with Stefan around we at least have the possibility of understanding what this madness is.