Microsoft’s handling of updates has changed since the days of Windows 7. In that OS, users were presented with a slate of pending updates. Checkboxes next to each item let them select which ones they wanted, and which ones they didn’t. In Windows 8 and 10 versions that is no longer possible using Windows Update. The new philosophy might be expressed as “all or nothing.” Fortunately, a pair of Windows Update alternatives helps savvy power users regain their power of choice.
Windows Update Alternatives #1: WUMT
WUMT stands for Windows Update MiniTool. It’s the work of anonymous developer “Mr. X” based in Mexico, who posted this tool in the Wilders Security Forums in 2013. I grabbed my copy from MajorGeeks. (They do a good job of tracking the most current releases of this tool; dated 9/30/2016). Here’s what it looks like:
Notice the checkbox next to the lone item: lets you decide whether or not to download.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take a screen cap on October 7, when the last batch of updates rolled out. Thus, no real Windows Update items are showing (all you see is a Logitech driver). But the presence of the checkbox to its left is what counts: this is how you select individual items (or not). A Hide control (the big letter H near the right side of the control bar below Update history) lets you hide updates you don’t want.
WUMT offers three bonuses over standard Windows Update, IMO:
- It usually does the job faster than the built-in utility.
- It scans and offers new device drivers for the PC on which it’s running.
- It can access Microsoft Update, Windows Update and the Windows Store for updates.
The tool is good at recognizing drivers in need of updating. I’d rank it even with my previous favorite, Driver Update from Slimware Utilities, and ahead of my previous favorite, DriverAgent from eSupport.com. Because it’s free (no annual subscription fee) I’m pleased to give it two thumbs up.
Windows Update Alternatives #2: WSUS Offline Update
WSUS Offline Update lets users request an update download for Windows or Office updates. They can fire it off at any time without maintaining ongoing Internet access. Thus, this tool is something of a “batch job” for grabbing updates. I found it through an article from the How-to Geek entitled “How to Fix Windows Update When It Gets Stuck.”
Using the tool is simple. Identify the version of Windows you want updates for, select among some options, designate a target location for updates, and fire it off with the Start button. It is, however, limited to grabbing only Critical items. Unlike WUMT, this tool is not a complete replacement for Windows Update. You still need to access that service for non-critical updates. It doesn’t do drivers, either. But it is easy to use, compact, and makes updates locally available in a variety of usable forms (it even builds ISO images for mounting and reuse).
Identify the target OS, choose some options, and you’re ready to rock’n’roll.
Given these alternatives, admins and power users can easily avoid Windows Update when trouble rears its ugly head. Based on recent issues with WU, it’s probably a good idea to grab one or both of these tools soon.