When I was in college, in 2009, we had a semester dedicated to working with Windows Server 2008 and we were allowed to tinker about with everything for one of the lecture periods. During that time, a friend of mine figured out how to get around the admin restrictions and made Virtual PC 2007 run minimised on boot silently using his login credentials. Then he configured Server 2008 to run as a Windows Update server, ticked all the boxes available, and then proceeded to run things this way for a week, downloading 230GB of Windows Updates for XP, Vista, 7 and Server 2003 before he ran out of drive space.
Aaaand then whenever his virtual machine was turned on, PCs on the network would start pulling down updates from his server. The latest build of Windows 10 not only gets rid of this for small networks, but it also greatly simplifies things for network administrators who can’t, or don’t have the option, of running something like WSUS Offline Update.
Running Windows Update has always been a pain for someone administering a smaller network because every computer on the network that is scheduled to pull updates down from the Windows Update servers will generally do so at the same time. It eats up bandwidth, it chokes up any currently running remote backup processes, its a pain in the ass for anyone who struggles with a sub-2Mb/s internet connection. WSUS Offline Update makes this stupidly easier to figure in to network planning, but if you want it automated, one generally has to shell out money for something like Server 2012 R2 Core to have this running all the time for multiple machines.
Well, for those of you who are network admins, look at this beautiful menu!
I’m so happy with that single menu. Basically, with this option it would be possible to configure one machine to download updates from Windows Update and have all the others as leechers. Once more than one machine has fully updated, it becomes another seeder. The cycle would continue until every machine in the network is updated. Not only is this much quicker than having every machine pull the updates down from the internet, it also makes things much easier to standardise for networks that won’t have a server installed.
It remains to be seen if Microsoft will eventually extend this to cover other parts of the operating system like Windows Defender, or whichever version of Office is available at the time. The technology that drives this is based on the peer-to-peer technology designed by Pando Networks, which Microsoft bought in 2013. Pando at the time had something that worked very similar to a torrent application. I’m willing to bet that there’s even some of this tech driving Microsoft’s new trick with Windows 10 that will install applications through a command line from a shared repository, just like Linux.
If there are any network admins reading this, tell me your thoughts below on this new feature! Will you make use of it? Does your network have mostly standardised builds that would make something like this useful to you? Will you continue to use WSUS Offline Update regardless? Let me know.