Microsoft has released SQL Server 2014 Service Pack 1 Cumulative Update 5, which is Build 12.0.4439.1. There are 21 hotfixes in the public fix list.

In a very welcome change from the past, Microsoft has greatly streamlined the process for obtaining SQL Server Cumulative Updates. Rather than having to request the CU from a web page, and then wait for Microsoft to send you a download link by email (which, to be fair, usually only took a few minutes), you can now just download the latest Cumulative Update directly from the Microsoft Download Center.

Another, even more welcome move is how Microsoft has changed their guidance and language regarding whether you should install SQL Server Cumulative Updates. Rather than the old, somewhat alarming language, we now have this language:

Only the most recent cumulative update that was released for SQL Server 2014 SP1 is available at the Download Center.

  • Each new Cumulative Update (CU) contains all the fixes that were included with the previous CU for the installed version/Service Pack of SQL Server.
  • Microsoft recommends ongoing, proactive installation of CUs as they become available:
    • SQL Server CUs are certified to the same levels as Service Packs, and should be installed at the same level of confidence.
    • Historical data shows that a significant number of support cases involve an issue that has already been addressed in a released CU.
    • CUs may contain added value over and above hotfixes. This includes supportability, manageability, and reliability updates.
  • Just as for SQL Server service packs, we recommend that you test CUs before you deploy them to production environments.
  • We recommend that you upgrade your SQL Server installation to the latest SQL Server 2014 service pack.

This is a huge improvement, and I really hope that this new guidance will encourage more people to actually try to stay more up to date with their SQL Server CUs. Having a robust testing, deployment and rollback plan, that you actually use and improve over time as you regularly deploy SQL Server CUs has a lot of benefits for your organization.