Microsoft is today announcing the latest iteration in of their Windows as a Service program for Windows 10. Due to the frequency of OS updates, the change will bring faster and smaller OS updates that are targeted to a user's PC or mobile device.
The Unified Update Platform (UUP) is a new set of technologies that allows for "differential downloads," which in layman's terms means targeted OS updates. An existing analogy is how games in the Windows Stores that are 60GB on initial download have updates that are only a few gigabytes in size instead of having to redownload the entire game.
Now, that same principle is being applied to OS updates with a significant reduction in OS updates for milestone releases.
In a blog post detailing the changes Microsoft explains how it works:
A differential download package contains only the changes that have been made since the last time you updated your device, rather than a full build. As we rollout UUP, this will eventually be impactful for PCs where users can expect their download size to decrease by approximately 35% when going from one major update of Windows to another. We're working on this now with the goal of supporting this for feature updates after the Windows 10 Creators Update; Insiders will see this sooner.
Besides smaller download packages for OS update, Microsoft is also improving the logic behind OS update checks. Currently, checking for an OS update results in a somewhat long 'check' to the server due to the update data being sent back and forth. Starting with UUP updates will now be more efficient "because more processing is being done by the service, this will lead to faster checks for update operations."
Finally, there is another change for Mobile users. In the past, new mobile devices would start at a base build and sometimes require "two hops" to get to the latest release. This behavior was different from PC where the device could update right to the most recent OS with no delay. Now, Mobile will behave more like PC with direct "one hop" updates to whatever is the latest release.
Microsoft's UUP starts rolling out in stages today starting with Insiders on Windows 10 Mobile and later this year for PC Insiders. The public, the non-Insider release will occur between the Creators Update early next year and the second OS update due later in 2017.
It is important to note that there will be no visual changes to OS updates. The experience is simply going to improve regarding faster update checks and smaller package downloads, starting today with Mobile for Insiders.