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The Unified Update Platform for Windows 10 is bringing faster, targeted OS updates

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.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

62 Comments
  • Nice !!!
  • Most nice thing from the blog was "[customers]'d like more control over the timing of when updates are installed". Currently if you have documents open, Windows Update reboots your PC and LOOSES DATA.  This is unacceptable.  E.g. I lost a bunch of logs in Notepad the other day. I have NO issues with forcing customers to have updates and deny the ability to block updates.  That is better for security and maintaining a single platform to develop for.  BUT it cannot happen and loose customer data.  The OS should nag you to death to close apps and save data before forcing the upgrade.  Or they need to come up with a way to snapshot the state of processes and reboot without loss from any application.
  • This happened to me once, I was working on a new advertisement luckilyI only lost maybe a half hour of work.
  • Check your 'Active Hours' in the update options
  • Active Hours seriously have ti be advertised very well at least. This will help the unexpected restarts of Windows 10. Also I think update has to be bit more forgiving and smarter, like dont start auto update when there is still an active windows opened and only update during early morning like 2 - 3 am when the machine is plugged to power.
  • Active Hours seriously have ti be advertised very well at least. This will help the unexpected restarts of Windows 10. Also I think update has to be bit more forgiving and smarter, like dont start auto update when there is still an active windows opened and only update during early morning like 2 - 3 am when the machine is plugged to power.
  • They advertise active hours through the notification you get every time an update is scheduled...
  • Active Hours is not smart enough and 12 hours is too short for home PCs including DVR server. If one goes to checks for updates, install and restart can happen inside active hours. Always ask the user ;)
  • Lose, not loose.
  • Windows notifies you when it has updates to install so you can schedule a restart time or change your active hours. It also warns you with an alert 15 minutes before it updates.
  • It has happened to me once when i was using my PC late at night and the next moment the PC logged me out and started installing updates that took the entire night. The update is suppose to know that my PC was being used even though it was outside active hours... I felt CLU had taken over. *winks*
  • If the PC is just supposed to "know", then theoretically the second that you go idle for a certain amount of time it would update regardless of what reason you stopped using it for. Active hours are a guideline for the PC to follow. Once you're outside of active hours it updates. Only makes sense
  • Always wondered why mobile needed the extra "hops" to get to the latest build.  Good to see it's coming, very cool.
  • I personally want to see this type of system implemented when it comes to app updates, over a certain threshold like 500mb. I see no reason to have to re download the whole app every time there's and update
  • It already works this way today. UWP app updates first download a "blockmap" file which says "this is what the new version looks like" to the device. Only the app's files which look different from the blockmap are downloaded and replaced, rather than asking for the entire appx or appxbundle file. A good example of this is the Outlook mobile app, currently about 140-150MB in total size. Watch when it updates next time, you'll only see 20-30MB downloaded because those are the changed files.
  • Ok kwl. But some devs are clearly not using that
  • Like Gameloft with Dungeon Hunter 5. I can see why though, as It's developed for windows phone 8xx, so its most likely Silverlight and not UWP
  • Nice
  • Yes this is amazing news! Been wanting something like this for a very long time. This will help speed up the update process a lot and to see mobile phones update process to finally follow along with how PC's update process has been changed to is a very nice touch! Thank you Microsoft for this wonderful change!
  • Interesting
  • While I'm glad to see this improvement to the update process on Windows 10 Mobile, I'm equally glad that "It'll be worth the wait" will remain in place on the phone version instead of the desktop's particularly creepy "All your files are where you left them" which makes people think 'hang on, should I have been concerned about that?'
  • Agreed, the PC  message might as well have been "All your base are belong to us."
  • You are very right, there is still a lot to be ironed out between desktop and mobile.
  • Well since the previus update experiance was in all of its words sh*t sorry for the word. When i saw this message i wasnt creeped i was happy :D since now nothing changed everything was good and i hade one windows.old folder that after 1 week erases itself and my pc is always as new and has zero problems (compared to older upgrades and first ones of windows 10 insider program at the very start). just saying it was nice that i knew that this time i had no need to move everything myself since sometimes you have many many maaaany things to move....
  • I was under the impression that the delta upgrade mechanism has been in place for Mobile since a few builds before AU...
  • Finally!! Now only thing i need is to show update's download size and a way to pause the download.
  • The download usually pauses itself for me, if I leave Wi-Fi. What's even cooler, is that even if I restart my device the download picks up where it left off.
  • Yes. We NEED the ability to pause the download. Since some of us live in a place where internet connection is darn slow. When windows is updating, NO ONE ELSE CAN USE THE INTERNET.
  • I agree since Windows 10 will be slowly be the OS for current PC users in the world, it needs a flexibility of Windows Update functionality. The ability to at least pause is a handy one. One another thing I want to see is the download speed, update size and how many has been downloaded. Those extra information are useful and reassuring about the update.
  • I agree since Windows 10 will be slowly be the OS for current PC users in the world, it needs a flexibility of Windows Update functionality. The ability to at least pause is a handy one. One another thing I want to see is the download speed, update size and how many has been downloaded. Those extra information are useful and reassuring about the update.
  • "including my mom!" LOL
  • I'd love the possibility to download updates with cellular data. I'm sure I'm in the minority but sure would love that option
  • You're not. I'm with you
  • This!
  • This!⤴
  • I'm assuming this means my registry edits that completely kill OneDrive and Cortana won't be undone by the next big update, which is nice. 
  • Me too. Everytime windows builds change it's number, my "Network" and "Removable Drive" appeared again.
  • Awesome sauce
  • Could someone explain me something? Is this "seems faster" thing during the update or after updating to 14959? Also, my Lumia 930 got quite hot during downloading and installing the update.
  • It should be the downloading experience for the update that's faster as you don't have to download 100% of the new build anymore. Just what's new.
  • I see. Thank you, sir!
  • I'm curious if this will affect insider builds? I currently on the release ring for mobile. New updates come every few weeks, unfortunately ok I'm using a L640 with only 8Gb of memory, I'm finding it impossible to install the updates without deleting most everything off the phone. (to which I'm seriously considering upgrading phones.) it would be nice if I could start downloading updates again..
  • This should reduce the download and potentially installation size of new builds (starting today's), so fingers crossed you might be able to without deleting things. I have the same situation on my 640 XL.
  • They need to revolutionize updates by making restarts obsolete or as rare as possible.
  • Restarts may be impossible to be eliminated as some services and components being updated cannot be re-run while on active OS session at least on how Windows works today. Its possible still but that requires almost complete overhaul of Windows architecture which I don't expect happening anytime in the near future. Restarts being rare, that at least I hope we can able to have.
  • Restarts may be impossible to be eliminated as some services and components being updated cannot be re-run while on active OS session at least on how Windows works today. Its possible still but that requires almost complete overhaul of Windows architecture which I don't expect happening anytime in the near future. Restarts being rare, that at least I hope we can able to have.
  • "download size to decrease by approximately 35%"
      this speaks to how much does actually change in update to update.
  • This is a great update to the system. As long as they don't stop here I'm happy. There's still a lot of improvements that can be made, like faster rebooting, making app updates a part of the OS update process (at least the ones specifically tied to the OS update) and more information such as file download size and a link to any changelog (if available), and the ability to pause/resume downloads. One of the things Android definitely does better is even major updates install far faster than any Windows update, at least on the Nexus phones.
  • Android since Lollipop is way too slow with the OS updates because of the whole "Optimising App" process. Thankfully, that is being improved starting with Nougat.
  • My Nexus 6 consistently installed updates and was ready to use faster than both my Lumia 640 and Lumia 830. Nougat completely installed faster than most cumulative updates do with Windows 10 Mobile. Experiences may differ of course because of varying device set ups, usage scenarios, and the vast fragmentation of Android, but stock Android vs. stock Windows 10 I found Android to be faster.
  • And I'd like to point out that we have a similar process which takes bloody ages.
  • i hope to apply this to the store (Games, Apps) instead of downloading the whole game every update
  • Sweet! Now if I could just figure out why my Surface keeps successfully installing Firmware Update 8/8/2016 over and over again....
  • Hopefully I won't need to uninstall all apps on local memory
  • I just checked for the 14959 update and it does indeed seem faster...at least to see the update as available. It took under a minute for the update to appear and start downloading, but I am still seeing the 0% displayed for a while. Not sure if that last part is to be expected or not.
  • when can we see the creators update on preview?
  • I updating my phone it struck in 96% what do this
  • That's a good news. I need it from the beginning. At last its coming soon. Now I'll not have to wait for a long time for a little change in the updates. The specific features will be updated through the apps and rest will the same as it was before. It means great data saving. Waiting excitingly for UUP.
  • First thing is click in my brain after reading this is ASPHALT on my Lumia which needs whole 1.5gb for reinstall/update... :)
  • Cool stuff!
  • Successfully installed on my htc m8
  • I look forward to this next year =)