Speed Up the Windows 7 Update Rollup

Those who are faced with the challenge of updating a fresh install of Windows 7 will probably find this article helpful.

It can take hours or even days to update a freshly installed version of Windows 7 using Windows Update. Windows Update displays a “checking for updates” prompt when you run the first update check after installation that seemingly does nothing at all. This can be extremely frustrating, especially since it is not recommended to run a copy of Windows that is not patched and have that copy connected to the Internet.

Previously, there was one main option to speed up the process. Third-party tools enable you to download all updates at once, and apply them to the machine in one quick operation.

checking for updates

This cuts down on the time it takes to get started, but requires the use of third-party software which may not always be an option.

While you can create special media that includes all the patches, it is a complicated process and not really an option for users who require this once every other year or so.

Windows 7 update rollups

Microsoft introduced so called update rollup patches recently for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 that solves the problem.

Note: These updates are also available for Windows Server 2008 R2.

Basically, what they do is contain all patches released for the operating system after a baseline image. That baseline image is the Service Pack 1 for Windows 7 respectively Windows Server 2008 R2.

The rollup patches include all security and non-security patches released for the selected operating system, and Microsoft plans to update the rollup patches frequently to include newer patches.

So, instead of having to wait hours or even days before updates are detected and installed, it is easy as pie to push the updates to Windows 7 and Windows Server systems.

The update process

If you want to patch Windows 7 or Windows 2008 R2, the first thing you need to do is install the April 2015 servicing stack update which is a requirement for installing the update rollup patch on those operating systems.

servicing stack update

Once done, head over to the Microsoft Update Catalog website to download the update rollups for your version of Windows.

Note: Internet Explorer displays an ActiveX installation dialog on first run. You need to allow the site to install the ActiveX component to continue.

For Windows 7 32-bit or 64-bit, and Windows Server 2008 R2, use this link and make sure you open it in Internet Explorer.

microsoft update catalog

Add one or multiple update rollup patches to the basket on the page. This can be convenient if you plan to update machines that are not connected directly to the Internet as you can install those patches on any device as Internet connectivity is not required to install them.

Once you have added at least one package, click on the view basket link at the top, and there on the download button. You can remove patches from the basket again on the same page as well.

download windows update

Microsoft Internet Explorer displays a download options popup afterwards. This is used to pick the download location on the local system for the selected patch(es).

The patches are then downloaded to the system, and may be executed once they are ready.

update kb3125574

The update installation process starts immediately, but it will take a while before the installation completes.

It is necessary to restart the system after installing the updates. Windows will display a “configuring Windows updates” screen on start to finalize the installation of the updates.

configuring windows update

You may want to run a check for updates on the first system start to catch any update that has not been installed yet.

Downside

The main downside to using update rollup patches is that you don’t get a say in what gets installed and what does not.

This means that you cannot block the installation of certain patches or updates, so that any update included in the rollup patch will be installed on the device.

Furthermore, it is not possible to remove specific patches afterwards

windows update history

The second downside is that these updates are only available via Microsoft’s Update Catalog. The catalog is only accessible using Microsoft’s Internet Explorer currently (not even Edge is working), but Microsoft promised to change that later this year.

Closing Words

The update rollup patches speed up the installation of patches on devices running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows Server 2008 R2.

While that is convenient, you need to weight the downside of the all or nothing approach against this. This is not only problematic if you don’t want a specific update to install on a machine, but also for troubleshooting as you cannot remove updates that may cause issues on the device.

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