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Microsoft promises smaller Windows 11 updates with UUP – but there's a catch

A beefy 10GB one-time download that arrives in March

Next month Microsoft will start offering on-prem Unified Update Platform (UUP), which promises to deliver smaller and faster uploads of Windows updates.

The promise is 30 percent smaller – and faster – client downloads for updates and other capabilities that Microsoft says will make life easier for Windows admins. However, getting this tech will require a one-time 10GB download for enterprises to their various on-premises Windows 11 devices with the first UUP update, which is due on March 28.

"UUP is becoming the default and only way to download quality updates," Thad Martin, principal program manager at Microsoft, wrote in a Tech Community blog post.

"This means that you should plan for an additional 10GB download to distribution points (not endpoint clients) with the March 28th update. That's a one-time 10GB download for updates for Windows 11, version 22H2 per architecture (AMD64 and ARM64)."

The bulky download is foundational to the on-premises update management capabilities in UUP, such as needing less disk space and fewer reboots for updates, Martin wrote.

The chunky boi is installed onto a top-level server that takes the Windows updates from the cloud. The updates are then meted out to multiple distribution points, with each distribution point sending out the downloads to multiple endpoint clients.

Microsoft introduced UUP in 2016 and for more than a year has been working to speed up the downloads.

In Windows 11 version 21H2, the redesigned cumulative update reduced the package size by 40 percent and the download size for the more current devices. It also enhanced update orchestration through UUP and grew support for servicing language packs.

"IT pros want small updates," Steve DiAcetis, principal program manager lead for Windows Fundamentals at Microsoft, wrote in a September 2022 note while announcing updates improvements to version 22H2. "'Every byte counts' has been echoed in virtual and in-person discussions."

A month later, Martin unveiled the public preview of UUP on-premises and has since confirmed the first such updates are coming in March.

The on-prem UUP integrates cumulative updates with feature code, enabling organizations to get both in one reboot. There will also be reduced client downloads for feature updates. For example, inbox app downloads are conditional. The operating system will automatically be healed during the update.

The on-prem UUP interoperates with Windows Service Update Services (WSUS) and Microsoft Configuration Manager, which will manage the updates on-prem.

"These capabilities were not available in WSUS before now," Martin wrote. "Previously, you had to use separate solutions to manage airgapped environments, retention, acquisition, and repair. Now you can achieve all of this with UUP on premises."

The on-prem UUP will be integrated with any supported WSUS version or Configuration Manager 2023 or later. It's meant for updates to Windows 11 22H2 and feature updates for OSes between Windows 10 20H1 to Windows 11 22H2.

All updates will be automatically delivered with UUP servicing, but enterprises can choose to use UUP on premises for feature updates or continue to use media, Martin wrote. ®

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