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...For example, I'm updating an old Windows XP machine, and Windows update tried to get me to install Internet Explorer 7. But Internet Explorer 8 is out. Why not skip 7 and just go to 8?

There have also been times in the past when doing a fresh XP install, I'll install a ton of updates, and THEN Windows Update suggests I install Service Pack 2. If I had skipped straight to Service Pack 2, I wouldn't have needed to install most of those updates! And I have since learned to do just that - manually download SP2, then SP3, and then start updating. Why doesn't Windows Update know to do this for us?

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That's why people often make a XP+SP3 disc, it sounds like a good idea, I hope it applies to 7 too (I assume so). – tobylane Apr 15 '11 at 14:22
[WSUS offline update] ( is a pretty neat tool for situations like this - it downloads and saves updates, and has an installation script that handles everything automagically – Journeyman Geek Apr 15 '11 at 14:34
@Journeyman That's awesome! Thanks. – Phil Apr 15 '11 at 14:45

Many Windows users need to have specific versions of different features, for different reasons. In large business, especially, there will often be custom apps that depend on a specific feature or behavior in an older version of Internet Explorer or Windows Media player. Removing IE7 from the update list in favor of IE8 would cause problems for this kind of user.

My strategy for efficiently applying updates to a fresh machine is to download and apply the full version of the following updates, in order:

  • The latest service pack (ie: XPsp3)
  • The latest Internet Explorer
  • The latest Windows Media Player
  • .Net Framework Runtimes

If you do this, you'll cut the total number of updates to install in roughly half, as many of the smaller updates are just patches for lesser versions of these products. If you keep these key updates handy you'll also save a lot of download bandwidth and time.

Even though the normal automated process is ineffecient, it does work. Home users who set their computers to automatically install updates will end up with the latest version of all of these products — it will just take a littlelot longer.

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I think sometimes this is due to the fact that you need a specific set of updates before you can install other updates.

For example you need update 1 + 2 to install update 3

It is a bit stupid but that seems to be the way Microsoft deals with it.

I think your order issue might be because some people don't install the service packs so they make sure people have all the other available drivers installed just in case.

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Installing service packs using Windows update is different than downloading the stand alone installers for Service Packs and using these to install a service pack, stand alone installers contain prerequisite updates to install it properly.

There are prerequisite updates required before a service pack can be installed successfully when using Windows Updates, granted windows update does not tell you what they are and just offers all the updates to be installed, not very intelligent.

Windows update has no idea what a user wants, so it does the best job it can to keep the PC secure even if it is more time consuming for you. Windows updates was never designed for clean install of an OS 9 years after it came out.

As far as IE is concerned, not everything is replaced when going from ie6 to 7, or 7 to 8, or 8 to 9, so it needs to update common files to all these versions. also some people do not want to update to the next version of IE and will de-select it from the list, so WU needs to patch the older version, WU has no idea what you will de-select.

What I do when doing a clean install of XP is either download the stand alone service packs from Microsoft and run them manually, or slipstream the service pack into my XP installation CD (this is my preference).


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