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Microsoft will soon update Visual Studio via Windows Update

Visual Studio logo on a light background with purple stripes underneath

Did you know that Windows Update is used not only to annoy you deliver regular system updates but also new versions for other Microsoft products, such as Office? Soon, the list of Microsoft apps that can get to newer versions via Windows Update will expand with a new entry: Visual Studio.

Mads Kristensen, from the Visual Studio team at Microsoft, posted in his X that Microsoft is looking to make it possible to deliver updates for its main integrated development environment (IDE) via Windows Update to keep users secure and up to date automatically in the background.

According to a post on the Developer Community for Visual Studio website, the proposed update mechanism applies to all supported Visual Studio releases and LTSC channels of Visual Studio 2022, 2019, and 2017. However, it does not apply to preview versions.

Starting in August 2024, Visual Studio security updates will be delivered through the Microsoft Update (MU) system, which is designed to run in the background in a non-intrusive manner. This means that Visual Studio will automatically receive and install monthly security updates on any computer that has opted into “receiving updates from other Microsoft products”. We encourage you to enroll in this feature, as it’s by far the easiest way to stay updated and secure on a monthly cadence.

Microsoft understands that it is very easy to upset developers and Windows users in general (the recent Recall scandal proved that one more time), so it does not plan to enforce the new update mechanism. Instead of making it the new default, Microsoft will let developers decide how to receive Visual Studio updates.

Moreover, you will be able to separate Visual Studio updates from the "Receive updates for other Microsoft products" toggle in the Settings app so that the IDE remains unaffected by that option if the user or IT admin prefers it.

You can already preview the new update experience by configuring a specific registry key:

HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\VisualStudio\Setup\PreviewAutomaticUpdates (REG_DWORD) = 1

Opting out requires changing another key:

HKLM\Software\Policies\Microsoft\VisualStudio\Setup\VSthroughMUUpdatesOptOut (REG_DWORD) = 1

Microsoft will replace this rather crude method with a much more user-friendly option in August.

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