Windows 10 updates: Expect slimmed-down, full-quality versions, says Microsoft

The next version of Windows 10 could make Microsoft's monthly updates less painful to manage.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Video: Windows 10 update changes bring new features and new frustrations.

Microsoft says enterprise customers with devices on the next version of Windows 10 will get cumulative monthly updates that are a fraction of the size of today's ones.

Microsoft recently announced it was killing off its smaller 'delta' update option, introduced last year to help Windows 10 users and admins cope with monthly 'cumulative updates' that, as each month passes, grow in size and can exceed 1GB after about six months.

Today, Microsoft provides three types of monthly updates, consisting of 'full updates', aka the latest cumulative update (LCU), smaller 'express' updates that are about 100MB to 200MB in size, and the larger delta updates that can be between 300MB to 500MB.

Delta and express updates have been available for supported versions of Windows 10 -- currently versions 1607 to the current 1803 in the enterprise -- and co-existed because Microsoft was giving time for companies and third-party update management systems to implement support for its express update protocol, which initially required enterprise devices to use Windows Server Update Services (WSUS).

However, Microsoft opened up express to third-party update systems in January 2017, and so as of February 12, 2019, delta updates will stop shipping. Microsoft announced that change in July.

SEE: 20 pro tips to make Windows 10 work the way you want (free PDF)

Today, the company outlined the next phase of refining its cumulative updates for Windows 10 and Windows Server, currently codenamed Redstone 5 and expected to be released around October.

All today's supported versions of Windows 10 in the enterprise will continue to get express updates as well as LCU each month. However, the new Windows 10 and Windows Server will only get one quality update type -- the full one -- but it will be about as small as today's express update and can be redistributed within a network.

Organizations that grab updates from WSUS or the Microsoft Update Catalog will save network bandwidth due to the smaller size of the updates. But Microsoft reckons they'll also gain "enormous" bandwidth savings by being able to redistribute each month's quality update package.

"Since this new quality update package will be redistributable, organizations that utilize express updates via WSUS, System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), or a third-party management solution that supports express updates will experience enormous savings in network bandwidth and cache size on their distribution points or update servers," said Microsoft on its Windows ITPro blog.

Additionally, devices on the new Windows 10 will be 40 percent more efficient -- based on Microsoft's expected impact on memory utilization for each device while updating -- since the device won't need to calculate the best differentials to download express updates.

The updates will be distributed via Windows Update (WU), WSUS from the Microsoft Update Catalog.

"Devices connected directly to Windows Update that are running the next major version of Windows 10 (and future versions) will benefit from the new small update size whether they are installing applicable quality updates with a feature update or installing a monthly quality update at any time," Microsoft said.

Image: Microsoft

The new Windows 10 and Windows Server will only get the full update type, but it will be about as small as today's express update.

Image: Microsoft

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