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Win10: A Half-Month of Streaming Updates

In the brave new world of Windows 10, updates are no longer batched, but pop up when and as they appear. I decided to take a look at what that means by examining the Update Histories for my two current Windows 10 PCs, in terms of types and frequencies of updates involved. But first, of course, some caveats:

1. Windows 10 is a beta OS so it’s probably more subject to updates in general than a stable production OS would be.
2. Furthermore, Windows 10 is a beta OS that’s in the headlong rush to RTM sometime in the next 2-4 weeks or so, so perhaps what we see is waaaay outside the realm of what’s likely after GA comes and goes.
3. By way of comparison, the last Update Tuesday (May 12) deposited from 40 to 48 updates on my half-dozen or so Windows 8.1 PCs and tablets here at Chez Tittel. That works out to a daily frequency of roughly 1.3 to 1.5 updates, not including Windows Defender.

On Windows 10, Windows Update is handled through the Update & Security widget in the Settings app.

With all this in mind, take a look at what showed up on my two test PCs for the period from May 1 to 15 (I ran Windows Update just after logging into both machines on the 15th, but that day is far from over it still being early morning as I write this blog post):

Windows 10 Updates May 1-15, 2015
Date Dell Venue 11 Pro Homebrew i7-4770K
5/1 Defender (2) Defender
5/2 Defender Defender
5/3 Defender (3) Defender (3)
5/4 Defender (3) Defender
5/5 Update KB2062095 Update KB3062095
Defender (3) Defender
5/6 Defender (2) Defender (2)
5/7 Defender Defender
5/8 Defender (2) Defender
5/9 Synaptics driver update Defender
Realtek HiDef Audio driver update
Defender (3)
5/10 Defender Defender
5/11 Defender (3) Realtek HiDef Audio driver update
Defender (3)
5/12 Defender (2) Defender
5/13 Defender Defender
Malicious SW Removal Tool Malicious SW Removal Tool
5/14 Feature on Demand for X64 (.NET 3.5) Feature on Demand for X64 (.NET 3.5)
Defender Defender
Intel HD Graphics driver Security Update KB 3051768
Security Update KB3066002
5/15 Security Update KB 3051768
Security Update KB3066002

The data suggest some interesting take-aways from a new and upcoming Windows Update regime. First, I find it interesting that on some days Windows Defender gets as many as three distinct updates (the rhythm for other endpoint security solutions varies, but this is not unheard of in enterprise environments, either, and is usually separate from the normal controlled update deployment regimes in place). Second, it was fascinating to see device drivers arriving more or less at random: though the Windows qualification scheme is reasonably well-managed for drivers that pass through WU, I can’t imagine enterprises passing them onto clients without prior testing, because driver failures are as likely, if not more likely, to cause blue screens than any other kind of botched update. Third, it was interesting to see the monthly Malicious Software Removal tool show up solo on my Windows 10 machines — in fact, that’s what clued me into checking up for updates on my Windows 8.1 PCs.

The total number of updates for May so far, not including Defender (which I don’t consider to fall under the normal aegis of update management and deployment, anti-malware updates being of a somewhat different nature) was 7 for the Dell, and 6 for the homebrew PC, of which 3 for the Dell and 1 for the homebrew PC were drivers, the rest security and other Windows updates for each machine. This is not an insane number, but their irregular and unpredictable frequency and composition (drivers versus other updates, for example) means that enterprise IT pros will still be collecting them as they show up, passing certain critical items through on a high-priority basis (these might have been identified as “critical out-of-band security updates” in the old, pre-Win10 WU world; it will be interesting to see how they get labelled and handled in the new, post-Win10 WU world), and working and testing the remainder to see which ones make the cut for the next scheduled update deployment time slot. Given what I see here, I don’t believe that the recently-announced Windows Update for Business is going to have much of an impact. It should be interesting to wait and watch to see how it all plays out!