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On an initial first install of Windows of any kind happens and you have to install the 92 updates or however many there are. Doesn't windows somehow protect the machine while that happens? (I seem to remember a windows dialog asking if you want to allow that, not another program) That is what makes me think this is possibly part of updates.

I read on msdn at one time that packet filtering was turned on and the firewall enabled in xp sp2 even when not chosen by the user. But can not find the link.

I am not asking about other programs, but whether Windows ever does this.

If so, is this a possible source of network connection loss when an update fails?

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no, the most likely cause is some other program interfering like the Zone alrm thing that happened a couple of years ago.
ZA story

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All I'm aware of is Windows Update using the BITS service to limit the amount of bandwidth it consumes, so as to not cripple your use of the network while it's updating.

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