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Windows 10 Updates Are About To Get a Lot Smaller To Download as Microsoft Switches To Differential Patching ( 110

Microsoft currently distributes major Windows 10 updates -- Anniversary Update, for instance -- as essentially full operating system installs, going as much 4GB in size. But that is changing starting today (for some users). From an article on The Verge: Microsoft has been promising smaller updates to Windows 10, through various methods, for what feels like years, but the company is now starting to test a new Unified Update Platform (UUP) that will make a big difference. "One of the biggest community and customer benefits of UUP is the reduction you'll see in download size on PCs," explains Bill Karagounis, a Windows program manager. "We have converged technologies in our build and publishing systems to enable differential downloads for all devices built on the Mobile and PC OS." Differential downloads only include the changes that have been pushed out since you last updated a Windows 10 PC. This new change will debut with the Windows 10 Creators Update that's expected to arrive in March, but Windows Insiders can start testing the technology in today's latest build update for mobile devices. Microsoft will start rolling this out to PC builds later this year, alongside HoloLens devices. Xbox One devices running Windows 10 won't benefit from UUP as Microsoft distributes operating system updates to consoles using different methods.
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Windows 10 Updates Are About To Get a Lot Smaller To Download as Microsoft Switches To Differential Patching

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  • by ArmoredDragon ( 3450605 ) on Thursday November 03, 2016 @04:45PM (#53208563)

    I thought Microsoft got rid of program manager 20 years ago.

    • This is a switch! Instead of people losing their jobs to computers, "Program Manager" lost its job to a human!
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      I thought Microsoft got rid of program manager 20 years ago.

      MS doesn't get rid of anything*, they just call it something different. When people started bad-mouthing Window's DOS usage under the hood as obsolete, they started calling it something like the "powerful command shell interface manager" or "command explorer" instead of DOS. (I don't remember the exact wording, so don't quote me. I'm officially just a troll.)

      I don't necessarily blame them: old doesn't necessarily mean "bad". Mainframes are just "se

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        * Except VB-Classic, which ticked off a lot of customers who had to rewrite gajillion lines of code.

        I am SO THANKFUL that MS discontinued VB6 and went for that VB.NET garbage. It changed everything. VB6 was sort of cute because I could kinda-sorta write programs in without actually having to bother much about how my computer works in the first place. It being dropped made me reconsider my approach to programming in general. I replaced my windows xp with linux, fiddled with that, discovered the BSDs, got stuck with netbsd, learned C, unix, networking, perl, you name it. 10 years later I realize I have bec

      • I thought Microsoft got rid of program manager 20 years ago.

        MS doesn't get rid of anything*, they just call it something different. When people started bad-mouthing Window's DOS usage under the hood as obsolete, they started calling it something like the "powerful command shell interface manager" or "command explorer" instead of DOS.

        It's a little more complicated than that. Windows originally ran on top of DOS up to the 3.1 versions. Windows 95 used DOS as a bootloader and for 16-bit driver compatibility [], but took over many of its functions by interjecting itself into and replacing most of DOS's internals on startup. So, it wasn't exactly technically correct to say that Windows simply ran on top of DOS anymore, but it did appear that way to users. After the switch to NT, the DOS command prompt was just a shell with DOS-compatible c

    • by donaldm ( 919619 )

      I thought Microsoft got rid of program manager 20 years ago.

      It sounds like Microsoft is going to use Delta Updates [] which is kind of strange since Microsoft were one of the first companies to actually use this methodology in Windows XP. Forcing a 4GB update (as per article) is just plain lazy.

      I have been using Fedora (stable version) for years and from 2009 most updates come in the form of "deltas" such that over a month I would probably download less than 1GB and anyone who has used Fedora would know that updates are very common on that Linux distribution, which

  • Bet you $50 MS fucks up the first patch royally leading to a much larger than average patch to hot-fix the differential issue.

    • Why haven't they been doing this all along? If not I assume it was tied up with patents, but that's what their pockets and defensive patent suites are for.

  • by mackil ( 668039 ) <> on Thursday November 03, 2016 @04:57PM (#53208645) Homepage Journal
    About time!

    I recently helped a friend who kept having Windows 10 chew through all his Verizon bandwidth. They live in a rural area and are unable to get DSL, so they're on Verizon's 5gig a month plan. The Anniversary update along with all the live tiles, Update sharing and telemetry information sharing, completely wiped out their monthly bandwidth limit.

    I turned on the metering controls to help with that, but this is even better.

    • they're on Verizon's 5gig a month plan

      5 gig a month??? I seriously hope it's a Verizon branch in Congo or whereabouts. I'm not a heavy user, I don't even watch any movies or even YouTube, yet let's see:
      RX bytes:255463019699 (237.9 GiB) TX bytes:20164409761 (18.7 GiB)
      up 7 days, 12:43
      Ie, 34GB per day.
      And I live in a small town in a Poland (a second-world country recently well on its way to fourty-second world).

      • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Thursday November 03, 2016 @05:24PM (#53208799)

        German neighbor here, hi.

        My cell phone gets 200 MB monthly. For six Euros I can buy another 200 MB.

        My DSL caps out at 448/96 kbps. That amounts to roughly 100 GB maximum download over a month, but obviously doing that would ruin any kind of latency-sensitive activity. Like loading Slashdot, believe it or not. If I have a download running the https handshake to Slashdot actually times out.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          but obviously doing that would ruin any kind of latency-sensitive activity. Like loading Slashdot, believe it or not. If I have a download running the https handshake to Slashdot actually times out.

          US satellite internet user here. Slashdot's https handshake randomly times out for me just during normal page loads, with no other bandwidth use. Haven't noticed it with any other site, just slashdot. As usual the site is a shitshow, no surprise there.

          Also, more on-topic: I have a 10GB/mo bandwidth limit. It's hard enough to make it through the month without OS updates; I go through the cap in 10-15 days even with very careful use just because of how bloated websites have become.

          That's bad enough, but

          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            Connect to your satellite modem using wireless instead of wired Ethernet, and Windows 10's settings will let you mark its SSID as metered. You can't change the cost model for wired Ethernet to metered to the GUI, but there's a registry hack to do that [].

          • The other option, as several Slashdot users have recommended [], is to move to an area where DSL, cable, or fiber is offered:

            • "Moving seems to be the only realistic option." --Thanshin []
            • "So why don't you move?" --DiSKiLLeR []
            • "Well, you can vote with your feet, you just need to use those feet to move to a location which has the ISP you want." --Anonymous []
        • by hvdh ( 1447205 )

          Get a better cell phone plan. WinSIM offers 2GB, unlimited calls and text for 7€ / month on O2 network.

      • How do you really manage 34 GB a month ? 2-3 HD movies a day will still not take you more than 15-20 GB per day...
        • Debian archive rebuilds plus off-site backups. A "consumer" fast-download-slow-upload connection is fine for such a task; if shit hits the fan and my upload speed is not enough to restore the entire backup I can drive with a disk.

  • by ausekilis ( 1513635 ) on Thursday November 03, 2016 @04:58PM (#53208651)
    So lets get this right, it's 2016 and instead of downloading complete replacements for the OS at 4GB a piece, we're saving a few hundred meg? Shouldn't these be even smaller? like individual files and executables? maybe even diffs of those files? Is there really any reason they couldn't adopt a mechanism like deltarpm to push updates?

    I'm sure those ISP's with datacaps are foaming at the mouth that those caps are gonna be slightly harder to hit now...
    • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Thursday November 03, 2016 @05:33PM (#53208855) Journal

      Since Windows is a collection of bajillion files, it seems logical that security and bug fixes would only have to replace files changed, yet upgrade downloads were gigantic, approaching the size of an entire OS.

      Now it appears MS is confessing that they have been doing it the blunt low-brow way: the entire OS, or something close, came down for every upgrade all this time.

      Imagine the collective bandwidth wasted on all that: it alone may have increased Earth's temperature by a degree or two. Does MS own bikini stock or something? I would guestimate Windows updates have made up between 10 to 40 percent of all Internet traffic. Seems a Yuuuuge MS blunder. Am I missing something?

      • Yes, the article refers to "Updates" which only makes sense if you realize that they are referring to things like Windows 10 Update 1. You quickly realize that they mean what used to be called service packs. Service Packs have always sort of been this way. Hotfixes, patches, etc aren't done this way and never have been.

        • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

          A home Windows 7 PC of ours has default update settings, and about once per month it has a giant update of some kind that takes a good while to both download and install. (Let alone a few smaller ones in between.)

          Whether it's hot-fixes, cold-fixes, or gerbil-fixes, I have no idea. I just know it's a whole lotta updating of something. Unless they use hard-coded file offsets as entry point addresses (which seems dumb*), I see no reason to update the whole kit-and-caboodle every month (or at least a large port

        • We used to wonder why our slow ADSL line would become useless for the all important Netflix from time to time.

          Then I installed Gargoyle router. And guess what, MS Update would wake up and download hundreds of megabytes, killing everything. Gargoyle dealt with that.

          So now our ADSL is OK, if not great.

          The shear size of the amount of stuff that is downloaded by Windows (and other software) is astonishing. It might be OK if you are on a 100 meg optic fibre. But if you struggle on ADSL like many people it is

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Interestingly, they didin't have a problem hijacking your connection to help win10 spread itself over MS's own peer-to-peer network when it was being rolled out.
      I wonder how many data overage charges were wrought on that day.

    • Actually this is a new (fucking stupid) change by Microsoft back to the old system.

      Windows 10 is the only OS (that I know of) which employed very very large updates, effectively re-installing Windows over the top of itself, breaking all kinds of 'under the hood' settings that tinkerers may have set up AND more likely to cause risks to the PC (I support only 3 Windows 10 machines, the anniversary update took out one of them)

      Windows 10 is proper garbage, so many issues with it. At least they are fixing one o

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      It makes sense to distribute the whole OS image, because you have hundreds of millions of users with different configurations and potentially corrupted/altered files. It's erring on the side of caution, giving the update the best chance of working.

      It's wasteful but cuts down on support issues.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is different how from analyzing your computer against a list of patches & replacements, then downloading and installing only the ones needed ... as done in all versions of Windows before 10? Except that as a user you have no control over the results and the process - must accept what's given.

    • by hvdh ( 1447205 )

      An update mostly consists of a set of binaries (EXE and DLL), where the source code is only slightly changed compared to the previously shipped version.
      With the process they did up to now, they shipped all altered files as a whole in an update, likely zipped, but not being based on the previous binaries.

      When changing the source a little (fixing a bug, adding some functionality), the binary (DLL, EXE) changes a lot, because if one function gets slightly longer due to an added check, all following functions a

  • © Starcraft Blizzard
  • ...that they use bsdiff.
  • Congratulations on Windows Update finally making it to the 1980s.

  • by hcs_$reboot ( 1536101 ) on Thursday November 03, 2016 @05:21PM (#53208777)
    It took MS so many years to implement an however obvious differential patching, that says a lot about the code modularity and team management. One could bet and expect the next updates to be problematic.
    • They finally got around to copying Larry Wall's "patch" [] command more than 30 years later. What was so hard? It's been open source since 1985. Oh, right - open source is a cancer.
    • Given that it's a proprietary OS there's no good reason this should have taken so long other than a convoluted codebase.

  • by ElizabethGreene ( 1185405 ) on Thursday November 03, 2016 @05:33PM (#53208853)

    Windows 10 uses a cumulative patching system. To update a Windows 10 out-of-the-box install to this month's updates you only need this month's update, not every single update that has been released since that CD was made. That's a huge change from previous versions.

    The downside of this is that cumulative updates have gotten much larger over time. October's update clicked in at around a gig. That is a lot of data to move around on a network. With this change the computer only pulls down the differences between the last time it patched and today. The hope is that this will take some of the pain out of patching.

    Full disclosure, I work for Microsoft in an unrelated group.

    • what this really means is you will not be able to cache updates via HTTP

      honestly I do not know why they have NOT used plain HTTP to download the objects (fall back to https/p2p if needed and have them as options) this would make caches so much faster
      (yes verify those objects via cryptographic hash obtained via DANE and TLS )

      honestly why cant Microsoft , Apple and Linux/BSD all agree on the transport mechanism (I propose HTTP) this would make life and speed better for everyone


      John Jones

  • They really messed it up Windows Update. It has ruined my 3D prints, and has kept me from leaving places with my laptop.
    Taking away the user's ability to delay updates, was bull$hit.

  • Some intern spent 5 minutes changing this one command, saving the whole world (including his employer) a few billion dollars over the next few years.

    And that intern's name was .. Donald Trump 2020!

  • by hyades1 ( 1149581 ) <> on Thursday November 03, 2016 @05:58PM (#53209021) the joy you get from scrubbing the filthy thing off your computer once and for all.

  • I have a couple of smaller, cheaper laptops with Windows 10 on that keep nagging to apply a pending update.
    They are only a few months old.
    But telling them to proceed just results in them downloading about 5 gigs data, and then giving up because they don't have room on their small SSDs.
    This has happened several times, and is a pretty big waste of bandwidth.
    We have put hardly any non-OS data on them. They just can't handle the updates, out of the box.

    Does this chance mean they might be able to finally update?

  • Did MS finally shell out for a license for RTPatch?! That only took 25 years.

  • Another slashvertisement...
  • You mean after 40 years of OS updates they are only now doing this?!?!?!

    I always wondered why Windows updates were so huge and bloated, and now I know.

  • Oh almighty have mercy upon us common folk, Microsoft is actually trying to reduce the size of something. I don't believe it until I see it. I still remember the XP installations that consumed just up to about 500 MB of space and if that's not enough for an operating system then banana it.

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb