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MS Smartens Update Downloads

I’m on the road this week, working in the mornings from a hotel room. This morning, I’m downloading the latest round of Patch Tuesday updates released yesterday. Because the Network Meter gadget shows me that my download speed is in a band between 6-8 Mbps, I also learned something about how MS handles updates on slower pipes. Because my slate of updates is pretty sizable, I observed that WU downloaded them in reverse size order (smallest first). I also observed that WU limited itself to two downloads at any given time, and that (perforce) it downloaded the Cumulative Update last. And that, dear Readers, is what the title of this post — MS smartens update downloads — really means.

Take a look at today’s slate of updates, captured nearly complete, to see evidence of this approach in action:

Note that the next-to-last pair of downloads is underway here, while the last item (the Cumulative Update) awaits its turn.
[Click image for full-sized view.]

It’s a Good Thing MS Smartens Update Downloads

Normally, when I work at home where effective download rates exceed 300 Mbps, I notice none of this. Today, with only limited bandwidth available, it becomes blindingly obvious. MS is smart to tackle items in reverse size order, and also to limit simultaneous downloads to two items. This limits the number of retries required should a download get interrupted, and helps improve the odds of a successful and relatively speedy download session.

What I didn’t understand, however, was the order of update application. The Cumulative Update comes first, followed by the Office Components (5 in all). Then comes the Adobe Flash Player update, the Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT), and, finally, the Defender update. I can understand why MS might want to patch the OS first and foremost. But what I don’t understand is why the MSRT doesn’t come next (or even first). Surely, it doesn’t make sense to update an infected or infested system? At present the only thing I can find on this is from the MS Answers forum, which simply says that MS determines dependencies among updates and installs them so as to address or resolve them. I’m going to do some more research on update application order, and see what I can learn. If I find anything interesting or useful, I’ll post about that again soon. Stay tuned!

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