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WHS server to provide patchs to multiple Home PC's. RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • I know that the full featured WSUS can be installed on WHS but it would be nice to have a more home friendly version of this that lets you patch your PC's with a common template for deploying.  i.e. Install all updates, Install Important Updates only, Install Optional Updates, Install Driver and other updates. Or pick and choose combinations of those.

    This would not only benefit the home user by being able to use the Connector to notify them when there PC is behind on updates and allow them to remediate that but it also helps microsoft by allowing one PC to download all the patches for the PC's in the houses instead of 4 or 5 downloads of the same patch.
    Wednesday, December 2, 2009 11:35 PM

All replies

  • Microsoft has asked that product suggestions be submitted as feedback through Connect. You could go there, search to see if you can find a similar suggestion (I'm pretty sure you will), and vote or submit a suggestion of your own.

    That said, there are some fairly good reasons not to put WSUS itself on Windows Home Server (other than that it's not supported). It's a disk space, memory, and (occasionally) processor hog, for one. Also, computers that are linked to WSUS don't download updates from Windows Updates even if the WSUS server isn't accessible; this is a problem for computers that are mostly disconnected (a college student's laptop, perhaps).

    Creating a custom tool that performs the same basic functions, but in a way that would be useful and usable for a non-technical Windows Home Server user would be a fairly daunting task, and one that there's really little market for...

    I've got to admit, I don't follow your last point, that there's a significant bandwidth benefit for the consumer. While it's true that bandwitch requirements will be lower, the end user of a home computer is unlikely to notice the difference. Downloads happen in the background now, so they don't interfere with what users are doing, and by default they download and install automatically.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 2:00 PM
    Moderator
  • Actually Ken I can see his point.  If you take a big update like .net 3.5 it can take over 40 minutes with my broad band to update, multiply that x 9 computers vs download to the server and update from there in a few minutes.  

    I have all my machines set up to notify only.  If the updates are small I let them do it. If they are large then  there is usually a download from microsoft that I download to the server and run from there.  Examples are Office Service Packs, DirectX versions, .Net versions, XP Service Packs, Visual Studio Service Packs
    etc.
    Also I disagree on how difficult it would be to have an area on the WHS that microsoft update could check first to see if it had a file there that had been already loaded before going the internet and checking.  

    Think of it this way, updates now first download to PC , then run.  They could download to the WHS first, then run from there.  That way if a second PC requires the same file it is already available.

    Also I live on an island where lots of folks outside the major cities may not even have access to broadband networks.
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 7:02 PM
  • Mike has the idea correct.  I realize that most updates are minor but like he states in his situation a larger update like .net3.5 is where you'll see the benefit.

    I don't think it would be too difficult to introduce a home user friendly version of this.  It would be like an Updates proxy. You would tell the WHS what level of updates you would like downloaded automatically to the server and pushed out to the clients and then it would simply proxy those updates to the End Users PC.  To the end users PC it would like just like they were going to microsoft for the updates.  On the Admin side it would just be a matter of choosing what to proxy  and what not to proxy. Once the updates have been pushed and deamed sucessful the server would delete the local cached copy of the update.  If there is a problem with the update it would keep the copy on the server until such time as the end user has been able to rectify the patch state. 

    In either case I'll head over to Connect.  I didn't realize there was a different place for suggestions these days.

    Thanks.
    Thursday, December 3, 2009 7:17 PM
  • Mike, I understand what people are asking for here. But they're thinking like IT pros and techies, not Joe the Excel jockey, who is really the target audience for Windows Home Server.

    Dig into WSUS. You'll have a much better understanding of why there's nothing like this in Windows Home Server. It's complex, and making it simple enough to include in Windows Home Server is a very hard problem. There's the separate problem of how much it will cost in added hardware, too, since this product primarily sells preinstalled from vendors like HP et al . They need to meet a price point, and no matter how much consumers may wish otherwise, design decisions are going to take that into account.

    As for patches taking a long time to download, that's true, for a large one. But a Windows Update download is throttled, happens in the background, stops entirely if need be, and is restartable, so it's approximately zero impact overall. There is a real benefit for some people to a WSUS approach, though (if you can get around it's regrettable tendency to download every patch under the sun, anyway): users who are on a metered bandwidth plan, with a small cap, would benefit. My suspicion is that this group of users is very small, though, so there's no real demand.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, December 4, 2009 4:08 AM
    Moderator
  • Ken you are overthinking this.

    WSUS is different beast that is designed for a centralized control of updates to your pc's.  It is a centralized push system vs the existing pull by PC model.  The existing model pulls patches from MS with the pull logic and coding already build into the PC windows update software, all that needs to be done is to route those files through the WHS. 

    What we are saying here is just look for the downloads in a different spot.  There is a huge difference in the design requirements between this and the WSUS push model where you centralized the administration of what and when to patch.  During the pull the files are downloaded to the PC and then updates, the logic to pull this to a directory on the WHS and then pull them to the PC is not a big complicated process from a coding prospective.

    Funny but I was thinking of this as last night there was a story in paper where parents of students were complaining that they could not get their classwork done because of slow internet speeds.  There are students in some communities on the island were there are not enough students to warrant a teacher  for a particular class so they take the courses over the internet.  The lack of high speed internet was causing the students to be unable to complete the lesson in the allotted computer time as the downloading was too slow.  Even where I live now in the town of Paradise which is a suburb of the capital city I suffered through 3 years of being at the end to the DSL drop area and still only have a low end DSL line.

    It is like when microsoft designers were shocked to learn that the average screen resolution in practice was 1024x768, there is a real world out there!

    Oh and I just have to add,  my house is starting to look like a PC store and not because of my stuff.  I have many, many PC"s being delivered here simply to hide them from other peoples children as they are christmas gifts.  I am not opening boxes or doing anything to them.  What scares me is that many friends will now become 4-6 pc households up from the 1-2 PC households that they are now.  The 12 year old's are all getting PC's(lots of netbooks)  and that is just going to add to the amount of computer maintenance and broadband sharing going on.   No thoughts to back up or updates.  Actually this is good for WHS as they may eventually come to the realization that they need a centralized backup/data sharing. system.

    Friday, December 4, 2009 11:02 AM
  • (Note: we're not going to come to a meeting of the minds on this, I'm afraid. More likely we'll eventually agree to disagree...)

    I believe you're oversimplifying, to be honest. WSUS does several things. One is download patches to a central managed location from which PCs can get them, which sounds a lot like what you're asking for, though I don't think you've given any consideration to managing the collection of patches. And you don't want a PC to download it and put it on the server for other PCs to use, you really do want it managed centrally. Why? Because some patches only download the components you actually need, and in an environment with multiple PCs and one storage point for patches you need all the components any of those PCs need. Whether the PC then looks to the server and pulls the patch or the server pushes it is immaterial. And given the environment (home, with kids/students), the PCs have to be flexible enough to deal with being out of the house for an extended period of time. You don't want your college student's computer failing to update for months while she's at school...

    All of that takes resources, both on the server to support it, and in development of the tools. And intelligently managing the patches isn't an easy problem to solve; there is a huge range of usage scenarios to be considered. Even harder is doing it so well that you need no, or almost no, user interface to do so, and that's really a requirement for anything that goes into Windows Home Server.

    I hear you on the house full of PCs, BTW. Been there, done that. Makes for some strange looks from the UPS delivery guy, because it's the same guy on the same truck every day for a week. "Whatta you doin'? Openin' a store?" :)


    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Friday, December 4, 2009 3:06 PM
    Moderator
  • First I agree that we will agree to disagree on this.

    Second I will grant you that component part of the patches where the complete patch is not loaded in all instances would add some complexity.

    Third I just cannot get the dogs to accept the fact that the delivery guy is here often enough to be considered a friend.

    Last night I was configuring a new laptop for my in-laws.   The windows update initial pass wanted to download over 1 gb of downloads.   Now Office 2007 updates were about 900 mb of that.  That is several hours on my broadband.  I have all the Office 2007 service packs and .net service packs  on the WHS and running those first cut down the downloads to under 10 minutes.

    Also you mention about college students, I was fixing the sound in a friend's daughter laptop last week and it took over 3 hours and 4 runs of windows update to get it completely up to date with all the downloads, which is also a pet peeve of mine.  My first thought was that she did not have automatic updates in Vista turned on but she did,  So I looked at the update history it showed  that various stuff have been updated over the last year at various times so why I had to do this was puzzling to me.  

    So you may be right when weird stuff like this happens on a  straight forward single pc with the updates turned on. 

    I also wish that windows would go to a common update routine like the linux update on Ubuntu which is just so superior in that everything on the system including all the applications get updated at the same time.  As opposed to my windows boxes where they are running java updates, anti virus updates, firefox updates, application updates and microsoft updates all separately.  With 9 computers this can be a PITA.  At least they have have gone to Microsoft update vs window updates so the microsoft application now get updated at the same time.  Still a ways to go to catch up with linux for update simplicity and 4 or 5 years ago I never would have thought that I would be saying that Linux has better updating than Microsoft.

    Of course if Googles ChromeOS takes off(which I personally am skeptical of) then this whole Update each PC all the time just goes away as well as the whole need for having a WHS also goes away.  And then you are really really dependent on a good high speed always on internet connection.

    Saturday, December 5, 2009 12:46 PM
  • Dogs and deliveries: Do you want the dogs to consider the delivery guy a friend? :)

    Updates: Microsoft can't make Sun use Microsoft Update for Java.

    ChromeOS is really far afield for this forum (there's no chance Microsoft is going to support it in Windows Home Server), but I'll say this: it won't be more than a niche product until broadband internet access is truly ubiquitous, i.e. you can open up your netbook in the middle of nowhere (pick a location you frequent where you have no cell phone signal today) and your ChromeOS netbook boots right up, pulls the OS correctly, etc.
    I'm not on the WHS team, I just post a lot. :)
    Saturday, December 5, 2009 2:27 PM
    Moderator