Thursday, December 15, 2011

Configuring Windows updates

This morning, I had an idea to boot into Windows, to make sure all my Windows patches are up-to-date before going into the holiday break. I'll admit that it's been well over a month (or has it been 2 months?) since I've booted Windows, so I expected there to be a bunch of updates.

I wasn't wrong. There were 48 updates to apply. And they were all huge. It's interesting to note the process by which Windows installs the updates:

Run Windows Update, let it download and apply the 48 updates. This takes forever and really bogs down my machine. I tried doing some email while it was working, but there was so much going on with the updates that my Dell Latitude E6410 seemed unusable at times. I don't recommend doing this when you're trying to do anything important.

After the updates are applied, they aren't really installed. You need to reboot for the changes to take effect. Sure enough, Windows applies a few of the updates as it shuts down. But we already know about that. It's been that way since at least Windows Vista.

I guess not everything gets installed at shutdown? As I rebooted my computer, I watched as Windows was "preparing" to install updates, then "configuring" Windows updates, before finally installing them. When it got to 32%, it kind of sat there, spinning the disk, like it was hung. I had enough time to get out my phone, and snap a photo, all while Windows was at "32% complete":

After all the updates were applied, Windows finally came up, and I was able to get back to work.

I never get tired of reminding that in Linux, when you reboot or shutdown, you actually reboot or shutdown. None of this "let me install a few updates before you really get to shut down your system." Reboot means "reboot", and shutdown means "shutdown". I guess I got spoiled for how cleanly Linux systems apply updates. Microsoft sure could take a lesson from that.


  1. On many occasions I've found that update (on XP) simply hangs while claiming to be X% done. As for not completing the upgrade in one hit, sometimes an upgrade requires that another upgrade be installed first. Since MS still needs to reboot on any trivial change, it is not unusual to need to reboot in the middle of the update.

  2. See, now you have me wondering - have any Windows geeks ever written an article explaining just what is going on behind the scenes during that whole process?
    I mean, sure, you can expand the downloading window to see which one is currently being pulled in, but after that? It's completely obscure. I don't believe that even die-hard Windows fans have gone for over a decade without wondering exactly what Windows is doing and why.

  3. Vista and Windows 7 seem worse for that. XP generally installs the updates on shutdown (just as I have it set up), but only Vista *continues* to install updates on a subsequent boot-up. And I thought that TSR's had died with Win 3.11


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