I installed Windows 7 on an old laptop yesterday evening, so that I could experiment with Win32 API programming. I started it updating about 5 hours ago. It downloaded the updates in 30 minutes or so, but as of right now it is still installing them, and only 58% complete.
Why is this taking so long, and what can I do to hasten it?
The laptop is an HP Pavilion dv6701us, with 2 GB of RAM, a 120 GB SATA hard disk, and a dual core Pentium D CPU, for what it's worth.
Update (July 18 2015): I've now observed this behavior on every Windows 7 machine in my household, 32 and 64 bit alike. It seems almost invariant with respect to RAM, CPU speed and number of cores, even SSD vs. HDD. All Windows 7 systems I've seen updating, take over 8 hours to install ~200 updates.
Is there anyone for whom Windows Update is not spectacularly slow?
Update (July 19 2015): here is the link to the compressed xprof file:
Update (September 14 2015):
I wasn't entirely satisfied with the answer below - can Microsoft really be shipping something that broken? - so I decided to have a go at it with Sysinternals procmon. This is what I see, over and over again, while Windows Update hangs and doesn't even start downloading stuff:
High Resolution Date & Time: 9/14/2015 8:24:12.9744097 PM Event Class: Registry Operation: RegOpenKey Result: NAME NOT FOUND Path: HKCU\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Policies\WindowsUpdate TID: 3376 Duration: 0.0000183 Desired Access: Query Value
That WindowsUpdate key does not exist. Could be it's supposed to be nonexistent; but I strongly suspect otherwise, seeing as it is accessed over and over and over again by the updater's service host process, in a seemingly endless loop. The question in that case, though, would be: what entries/values should it contain?
Google/Bing so far hasn't turned up anything, but I'm going to keep looking on this.
Update 2 (September 14 2015):
I tried the hotfix from here: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/2700567
It claimed to fix some things, including something about the update service registration being missing or corrupt(!). Bizarre. This is a fresh Windows 7 SP1 install.
... However, Windows Update is still just as slooooooooow as before, chugging away at 50% of available CPU power while appearing for all the world to be stuck in an endless loop.
I just don't understand this. Windows has 90% of the desktop user base, it cannot possibly be this awful by default... I will keep investigating.