Microsoft consolidates its Windows update platforms

New design will make it easier for devices to perform OS upgrades

Microsoft consolidates its Windows update platforms
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft continues to tweak the update process behind Windows by introducing a series of behind-the-scenes changes in Windows 10 that reduce the processing power needed to perform the update, shrink the size of update files and streamline the process on Windows smartphones. 

The Unified Update Platform (UUP), as it is called, is starting out on Windows 10 Mobile but will eventually expand to PCs, other mobile devices (such as Surface), IoT and HoloLens.

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Microsoft created the UUP to address the clumsiness of its update process. Windows Update was never really a smooth experience. It would hang, take forever to get the list of fixes, downloaded all the fixes individually and would sometimes fail, giving a cryptic error message. It got better with Windows 10, where all the fixes were rolled into a single update, but as the Anniversary Update showed, it could still choke on a big update.

Bill Karagounis, director of program management for the Windows Insider Program and OS fundamentals at Microsoft, addressed this in a blog post announcing UUP

"Because more processing is being done by the service, this will lead to faster checks for update operations. It’s important to note that with UUP, nothing will look or behave differently on the surface, UUP is all underlying platform and service optimization that happens behind the scenes." 

Microsoft says UUP will reduce the amount of time it takes to check for updates by lowering the amount of data sent to client devices. So, it sounds like more of the processing work is being done by the service and on the servers rather than on the client device. 

The UUP should make it possible for Microsoft to ship updates as differential download packages, so users will have to download only the parts of Windows that have changed since the last update. For large patches, such as the Anniversary Update or upcoming Redstone 2, users could see a reduction in the size of downloads of up to 35 percent, according to Karagounis. 

Finally, UUP should also put an end to two-step updates, where you would have to download an interim build or patch before getting the final one. This was one of the most infuriating aspects of installing, say, Windows 7. You'd have to run Windows Update three or four times total to get up to date because it installed so many stepping-stone fixes. 

UUP is available in the most recent Windows 10 Mobile Fast ring build, and it should be available for PCs later this year. IoT and Windows Holographic versions will come "shortly after" that, which at this point likely means in early 2017.

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