Windows 10 Express Updates in Configuration Manager taking a long time to download and install

Windows 10 and Server 2016 Express Updates may not be what we think they are. I was recently implementing System Center Configuration Manager 1702 and thought I’d try enabling Microsoft’s newly released Express Updates functionality which become fully supported as of the April 2017 Cumulative Update. However I quickly discovered there’s major consequences of enabling the global settings.

Express Updates sounded like something almost any Enterprise would want to enable. Microsoft Docs states “Using express installation files provides for smaller downloads and faster installation times on clients.” Sounds great but I’ve been having strange results. And I’m not the only one struggling to understand how Express Updates are supposed to function.

After enabling Express Updates within Configuration Manager, the Install Updates portion of our task sequences began taking an extremely long time and eventually timed out. After inspecting a few logs we realized the Express Windows Updates were being downloaded in 64k chunks, sometimes a little less, and then there’s a pause of a few seconds resulting in incredibly slow downloads. I’m not exactly sure if this is the expected result or not. Although no one has specifically mentioned problems with Express Updates in Task Sequences on Microsoft’s TechNet Social site, some users are reporting their clients are taking 6-8 hours to download and install the 2017 May Cumulative Update.

There’s also another side effect of enabled Express Updates. If you try disabling Express Updates within Configuration manager, Express Updates will continue to be downloaded regardless if you want them or not. Client behavior will return to normal but the Configuration Manager server will still continue to download Express Updates which take a considerable amount of space.

If you haven’t enabled Express Updates yet, it might be wise to wait until their proper use cases and behavior has been clearly communicated by Microsoft.

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