Windows 10 updates are about to get a lot smaller

Martin Brinkmann
Nov 4, 2016
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

Microsoft revealed yesterday that it plans to ship an improved updating system called Unified Update Platform (UUP) with Windows 10's Creators Update.

Updating is definitely one of the sore topics when it comes to Windows machines. Microsoft changed the way updates are delivered -- from individual patches to cumulative update packages -- which made things more complicated for users.

The change removed control over updates from users and system administrators who face an all or nothing approach now. Even worse is the fact that updates build up on each other which means that you cannot just block previous updates anymore as they are included in newer updates as well.

That's a big issue, especially if one update causes issues on a machine. You are left with no choice but to remove the whole update package and stop updating the system in hope that Microsoft will fix the issue one day.

kb3197954 kb3199986 kb3190507

There is also the question how Microsoft plans to fix bugs introduced by security updates. Windows users can install only security updates on their machines, but bug fixes may be distributed with regular non-security updates.

Other issues surrounding Windows Updates include a lack of information; Microsoft does not update support pages in time which means that you sometimes don't know what an update does.

Last but not least, updates seem to have grown in size considerably in the last couple of years. It is not rare anymore that updates with sizes of hundreds of Megabytes are shipped with feature updates for Windows 10 shipping in the Gigabyte range instead.

Unified Update Platform (UUP)

The Unified Update Platform (UUP) will change that significantly, at least when it comes to the size of updates.

According to Microsoft, PCs who benefit from UUP will see a decrease in download size by about 35% for major updates. The company plans to roll out UUP to Insider Builds soon and to regular Windows 10 systems with the Creator Update out in March 2017.

No word on the benefits for smaller updates for Windows 10. Since Microsoft did not mention those specifically, it seems likely that they won't benefit as much as feature updates but that is just a guess.

Microsoft enables differential downloads for all Windows 10 devices with UUP which explain the improvements.

As we rollout UUP, this will eventually be impactful for PCs where users can expect their download size to decrease by approximately 35% when going from one major update of Windows to another. We’re working on this now with the goal of supporting this for feature updates after the Windows 10 Creators Update; Insiders will see this sooner.

Another benefit of the new model is that update checks will be performed faster as Microsoft moves some of the processing from devices to the Windows Update service instead. The effect is a faster update checking and update operations time.

Using UUP, when your device checks for updates, the Windows Update service will evaluate which updates are needed by a given device. The Windows Update service then returns these updates to the device for download and install. Because more processing is being done by the service, this will lead to faster checks for update operations.

Now You: Did you experience any issues with Windows Update or updates recently?

Microsoft revealed yesterday that it plans to ship an improved updating system called Unified Update Platform (UUP) with Windows 10's Creators Update.
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  1. Dan said on November 5, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I know its off topic but somebody can tell me if I install the KB3192391 security only update then i dont have to install KB 3185330 and KB 3188740? And what about the office kb3118312 update? I can install it or not?

  2. DarkTheme said on November 5, 2016 at 10:32 am

    Hey Martin, you want to know what makes a cumulative update? Only bug fixes and does not add any new features. Hey Martin, you want to know what makes a feature upgrade? Simply add new features. These two types of updates are always the same.

  3. pHROZEN gHOST said on November 4, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Would someone correct me if I am wrong?

    I was under the impression that each new update was going to be a cumulative roll-up to enure that none of the individual updates from past updates could be missed. If that’s true, then each new update will be larger than the previous one.

    I think someone at Microsoft realized that they are building a monster. So they had to trim some fat.

    This is going to be a challenge for system administrators for sure. If they have a legitimate reason to avoid an individual update (known software bug, company policy etc), then they have to avoid future updates until something changes (bug or policy). This could be dangerous.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on November 4, 2016 at 4:08 pm

      According to Microsoft, only the parts of the cumulative update that are not already installed on the user system are downloaded and installed.

      1. A or B, not C. said on November 5, 2016 at 6:03 am

        @ Martin B ……. U said, “According to Microsoft, only the parts of the cumulative update that are not already installed on the user system are downloaded and installed.”
        Fyi, that was exactly what Windows Update for Win 7/8.1 had been doing all along b4 M$ degraded it into non-optional monthly Patch Rollups in Oct 2016, similar to the bloating Cumulative Updates for Win 10.
        IOW, in Oct 2016, M$ changed Windows Update for Win 7/8.1 to be worse n more bloated than for Win 10.
        ……. If things stay the same, the April 2017 Patch Rollup for Win 7/8.1 is expected to be about 1.0GB in size.!
        B4 Oct 2016, in Windows Update for Win 7/8.1, M$’s servers would scan a cptr thoroughly n then send it only the needed or missing updates. My Win 7 cptr used to hv about 10 updates every month = about 100MB or less in size. UUP will also be doing this for the coming Win 10 Version 1703.
        In CU for Win 10, lazy M$ servers just detect the Win 10 version of the cptrs, send them the same bloated CU and let the cptrs themselves sort out which updates r needed from the CU for installation.(= high CPU usage)
        ……. Cumulative Updates for Win 10 hv so far not bloated up to more than 1.0GB in size bc M$ release new versions of Win 10 about every 6 months. They r similar to the Service Packs of Win XP/7 which reduced the number of needed updates for a clean OS reinstall, eg for Win XP SP3 n Win 7 SP1.
        Seems, for Windows Update, M$ hv made it worse n more bloated for Win 7/8.1 while making it less bloated for Win 10, in order to push Win 7/8.1 users onto Win 10.

      2. pHROZEN gHOST said on November 4, 2016 at 4:41 pm

        OK. No huge download. That’s better but still presents a serious challenge.

        Administrators need a means to control what is downloaded and updated.

  4. D. said on November 4, 2016 at 3:05 pm

    @ Oxa
    Exactly, and that is the reason so many computers are flying all to xxxx. If not, then I don’t know what the problem is. Unless they have so much crap in there even for them now.

  5. Maelish said on November 4, 2016 at 1:49 pm

    I clearly recall before using windows, operating systems and software patches were very small. Back in the 80’s and even into the 90’s you could find patches that didn’t replace whole files, just the changes within that file. But things changed. No one knows how to use assembly language anymore. So now this is where it’s all lead us, to patches that are being called smaller but are still quite big. Funny…

    1. Oxa said on November 4, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      Companies used to beta test their products, so that fixes and updates were less frequently needed. Now installation on tens of thousands of end users’ computers is the beta test.

  6. meepmeep said on November 4, 2016 at 12:23 pm

    Note to Microsoft: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

  7. insanelyapple said on November 4, 2016 at 11:17 am

    As long we can’t control over what we get to install, when installation procedure should take place, there’s nothing to be happy about.

    1. zund said on November 4, 2016 at 3:26 pm

      can be configured for via group policy:

      computer config -> admin. templ. -> win components -> windows update
      -> configure automatic updates = level2 (notify download and notify install)

      (obviously not for win10 home since it’s lacking gpo)

      1. bwsHomeU said on December 10, 2016 at 5:26 am

        Useless since we can only delay and not permanently ignore what we want to install.

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