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Clean Win10 Install: Few Updates Needed

With the introduction of a new Windows 10 Cumulative Update on a “once-a-month-or-better” frequency, it’s been said that clean installs should require only a few updates to bring a brand-new Windows 10 install completely up to date. After performing a bare-metal install yesterday on a new PC, I can confirm this is correct. After getting Windows 10 running on that machine, I visited Windows Update to see what was missing. I  got a list of only 4 items, to wit:

  • The latest Cumulative Update (KB3135173)
  • A just-hatched security update to Adobe Flash (KB3135782)
  • This month’s “Patch Tuesday” version of the Malicious software Removal Tool (KB890830)
  • The current set of Windows Defender updates

That’s a list I would have to call minimal. It compares favorably to the dozens to hundreds of updates I’ve downloaded after performing clean installs of Windows Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1 over the past 9 years. (Vista went public on 1/30/2007, in case you can’t remember.) Cumulative Updates absolutely short-circuit the usual post install update drill, which often took an hour or longer on earlier Windows versions.

The new machine will replace my current production desktop PC. But first, I must transfer all of its hard drives over the weekend, and finish installing the usual work-oriented applications.  Here are some other observations about my experience so far:

  • Windows 10 did an ACE job of getting the drivers (mostly) right. According to DriverUpdate, it missed only 3 drivers on a configuration that included an Asrock Z170 Extreme 7+ motherboard, a Skylake i7-6700K CPU, 32 GB RAM, and the awesome Samsung 950 Pro NVMe SSD (512 GB). All were chipset specific items for system devices, all addressed by installing the latest Intel chipset driver.
  • The process from bare metal to a fully-updated OS took less than 40 minutes. Some of that included idle time when the machine was waiting for input from me. It really is getting faster and easier to install Windows, and Windows 10 makes the process simple and straightforward.
  • An NVMe SSD makes a BIG difference in system performance. Crystal DiskMark reported some startling performance figures. My results were consistent with Les Tokar’s discussion at The SSD Review in October, 2015. Here’s one snapshot of the performance data (his test machine configuration is nearly identical to my new rig: a deliberate purchase choice on my part):

The Samsung 950 Pro NVMe SSD is 3-6 times faster than the 840 EVO mSATA SSD in my current production PC.

Bottom line: the new regular cumulative update strategy for Windows 10 really does short-circuit most of the post-install catchup process for clean installs. Only those updates that appeared along with, or after, the most recent cumulative update will need to be applied, for any new Windows 10 installation. Bravo!