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article imageFuture Windows updates will be smaller and faster to install

By James Walker     Mar 3, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has announced changes coming to the way in which future Windows updates install that will make the process faster, easier and more controllable. Update downloads will be around 35% smaller, reducing download times and saving data.
The improvements are being delivered by Microsoft's new Unified Update Platform (UUP), a system it's currently trialling with Windows Insiders. It will be launched publicly with the upcoming Windows 10 Creators Update.
Unified Update Platform
UUP only applies when installing new builds of Windows 10. These are distributed to consumers as big biannual releases containing new features and capabilities. Previously, installing these updates – such as last year's Anniversary Update – required you to download an entire Windows installation image, which could be 4GB or larger.
UUP will reduce that figure down by around 35%. Some systems could see even greater savings. UUP works by using a differential download system that compares the changes between the files already on your computer and those in the new release. It then downloads just the new and altered files, rather than replacing everything. It's a far more efficient process that leads to smaller file sizes.
Improvements with Unified Update Platform
Improvements with Unified Update Platform
"A differential download package contains only the changes that have been made since the last time you updated your device, rather than a full build," explained Microsoft. "Differential download packages rely on re-using files on your current OS to reconstruct the newer OS."
Although UUP will launch with the Creators Update, you won't get to see it in action until the next Windows 10 release arrives in the fall. The Creators Update is the first build to include the UUP components so you'll need to download the entire image when you upgrade. Going forward, getting setup on new versions will be much faster though.
"Choice and control"
As part of the new updates experience, Microsoft is also preparing an overhaul of the Windows Update interface that will give you more of a say over when your PC reboots. A common criticism of Windows 10 is that it installs updates without any intervention, sometimes causing disruptive reboots.
New Windows Update prompts in the Windows 10 Creators Update
New Windows Update prompts in the Windows 10 Creators Update
Finally acknowledging the feedback of users, Microsoft will use a new prompt to alert you of updates ready to install. Three options will be offered, "Restart now," "Pick a time" and "Snooze." The latter button postpones the installation for three days while "Pick a time" lets you specify exactly when to reboot. This option was previously available prior to the Anniversary Update.
Updated updates
The improvements to Windows Update are significant and will make it simpler and less stressful to keep your PC running the latest version of Windows. The changes have been a long time in coming though, particularly the overhaul of the installation timing system. Complaints about the way in which Windows 10 handles updates have persisted since its launch in the summer of 2015. It'll be up to consumers to judge whether the new interface is any better.
Microsoft's use of differential downloads could also have been implemented earlier. Although the feature is relatively uncommon, Microsoft's commitment to the "Windows as a Service" model means major Windows releases are common.
With entirely new builds being delivered every six months, people on slow or capped internet connections have been forced to endure hours of bandwidth-hogging update downloads twice per year. UUP is a step towards making Windows as a Service less of a burden for these users.
More about Microsoft, Windows, windows 10, windows 10 creators update, windows update
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