This is the ninth installment in the ongoing (Windows) Admin’s Toolkit series here at Win10.Guru. The focus this time is a tool that can replace, or provide an alternative to the built-in Windows Update facility in Windows 10. You know, the one that’s available by clicking Start → Settings → Update & Security → Windows Update. To answer the inevitable question of why one would want to grab a third-party tool to do something that Windows already does, I have two answers:
1. Because Windows Update sometimes gets bollixed and either won’t or can’t download and/or install certain (or all) updates. As an added bonus to its ability to download updates even when WU isn’t working properly or at all, I’ve also noticed that using WUMT will often restore WU to normal operation when WU is experiencing issues or difficulties.
2. Because Windows Update is an “all-or-nothing” proposition (mostly, you can instruct it to avoid device driver downloads) and will download all pending updates, even when you don’t want (or can’t run) one or more of them. WUMT lets you pick what you want to download and ignores everything else.
A Little Background on the Windows Update MiniTool (WUMT)
This free software tool first appeared in October 2015 over on the Wilders Security Forums. As far as I can tell, it involves an un-named Russian translator who maintains and handles the code base on behalf of an even more shadowy principal developer who actually wrote the original code. The front person goes by the cheery cognomen of “Mr. X” and though I’ve exchanged email with him, I’ve never learned his identity nor that of the actual developer. Be that as it may, Mr. X keeps the tool up on a Spanish page of blogspot but it’s not (or no longer) accessible to the general public there. That’s why I point people at Major Geeks to download WUMT: MG is a reliable source of virus-free downloads and they keep up with current releases of WUMT so you can always find the latest version there.
To see WUMT is to understand much (if not all) of what it can do. Here’s a screencap of its primary GUI, after clicking the dual circular arrows in the left-hand column (which goes off to check for available updates):
The program is pretty spartan in looks, but wows with capability and performance.
The main keys to the program’s operation come from this set of six (6) controls:
From left to right here’s what they do:
1. Double arrow: Checks with Microsoft’s update servers to see if any updates are available. The check shown in the first screencap shows nothing available at the time of checking.
2. Plain down arrow: Downloads selected files from MS update servers.
3. Down arrow with horizontal line at bottom: Downloads and installs selected files from MS update servers.
4. Garbage can: Uninstalls selected updates (best used from the Installed display described below)
5. H with plus-minus sign: Lets you hide or show selected updates (helpful when WU presents spurious or unwanted updates)
6. Documents icon: Copies selected file links to clipboard so you can see explicit source info.
You can also click on the top 4 left-hand items to control what the program displays, specifically:
1. Windows Update shows the number of pending updates. If clicked it lists them with checkboxes at left in the right-hand pane.
2. Installed shows the number of updates installed, divided into categories such as Security Updates, Upgrades, and platforms such as SQL Server Feature Pack, Visual Studio YYYY, Windows Dictionary Updates, Silverlight, Office 365 Click-to-Run, Windows 10, Windows 10 Feature On Demand, Windows 10 LTSB, and so forth. Use this display to see checkboxes for selecting items to uninstall.
The checkboxes at the left of the installed updates are used consistently throughout WUMT to let users select items for downloading, hiding, or uninstalling.
3. Hidden: shows any updates the user has previously hidden. I remember, for example, that in the 16xx releases for Windows 10, there was print device driver that wouldn’t install on my PCs. So I used the Hide button to remove them from listing and consideration. The hidden display lets you see what’s been hidden, and gives you the option to unhide it if circumstances or needs change.
4. Update History: shows the order in which updates have been applied to the focus PC, and the dates and status of their application.
There are other capabilities at the bottom of the left-hand pane in WUMT, too, depicted here:
I’ll tackle each of these in order from top to bottom:
1. The pick list for “Update service:” lets you specify where WUMT goes to look for updates. The four options available are: Microsoft Update (the usual source), Dcat Flighting Prod (an alternative Microsoft source for specific flighted update items), Windows Store (shows up as Windows Store (Dcat Prod) for Insider Preview PCs), and Windows Update (an older update source used for Vista and older MS OSes).
2. Include drivers: When checked (default) this shows drivers available from these various MS download sources. When unchecked, they won’t appear.
3. Include superseded: When checked this shows updates that have been superseded by other, newer updates. When unchecked (default) they won’t appear.
4. Offline mode: Allows the program to interact with local update information (installed, hidden, update history) without accessing online download repositories.
5. Automatic Updates: Instructs the program to run update checks at specfied intervals and specific times. Use the pull-down list for the set of control options, which also include Disabled, Notification mode, Download only, Scheduled, and Managed by Administrator.
All in all, WUMT is powerful, compact, and incredibly useful. That’s why I included it in the Admin Toolkit at Win10.Guru. If you try it out, I believe you’ll be inclined to add it to your toolkit as well.
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.