How Microsoft plans to shrink down and speed up Windows 10 updates

Unified Update Platform is supposed to cut the size of updates and require less processing power

A Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10
A Surface Pro 3 running Windows 10 Credit: Blair Hanley Frank

Microsoft has revealed a Unified Update Platform that’s designed to make it easier for devices to upgrade from one version of Windows 10 to another. 

The UUP encompasses a set of behind-the-scenes changes in Windows 10 that reduce the processing power needed to update, shrink the size of update files, and streamline updates on Windows smartphones.

These improvements are designed to help Microsoft address user complaints about the update process. Because the company’s vision for Windows 10 includes many updates, streamlining those procedures is important.

One of the biggest changes will involve Windows Update delivering only the updates relevant to the device requesting them, Bill Karagounis, director of program management for the Windows Insider Program and OS fundamentals at Microsoft, said in a blog post.

“Because more processing is being done by the service, this will lead to faster checks for update operations,” he wrote. “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.”

In the future, the UUP will make it possible for Microsoft to ship updates as differential download packages, meaning users will have to download only the parts of Windows that have changed between updates. For large updates, users could see a roughly 35 percent reduction in the size of downloads, Karagounis said.

Microsoft first launched the UUP as part of a Windows 10 Mobile public beta build released on Thursday. Members of the Windows Insider Program running beta builds on their PCs should expect to see the new update system later this year, while HoloLenses and devices running Windows 10 IoT Insider builds should see it “shortly after.”

For most people, the UUP’s download size reduction benefits will only come into play after the Windows 10 Creators Update, which is expected out in early 2017. Karagounis said Insider beta users would see the benefits “sooner” but didn’t provide an exact timeframe.

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