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Windows updates

I picked up a couple of Thinkpads recently for good prices. One of them came with an install of windows 7 so I figured I would use it to build some windows binaries for pycurl.

To do that, I needed to install Visual Studio Express. I got the installer, ran it, let it do its thing, an hour later it wants to restart the computer and hints that the installation process is far from over, and will not continue until the computer is restarted. Fine.

At this point I am greeted with a windows screen informing me that windows is installing 4th out of 176 updates.

I thought that maybe somehow the Visual Studio was counted as an "update", but later this proved to not be the case.

How is it even possible to have 176 updates?

With each update seemingly taking multiple minutes to install, I gave up on this process ever finishing with me watching it and left the computer alone overnight. The bonus is, despite the computer essentially being unusable until the updates complete, closing the lid suspends the machine - thus you cannot stash it somewhere, you need to keep the lid open and the screen illuminating its surroundings because - obviously - you cannot change the settings while updates are being installed.

OK, maybe the previous owner never bothered to install updates. Fine. Should be good now, right?

I wish.

Two days later I get back to the machine to maybe get some work done. I power cycle it a few times for an unrelated bios change, and just as I am ready to start working the thing informs me that it is installing 2nd out of 4 updates. And these updates seem to be taking forever.

10 minutes later the thing reboots itself. And I see a message reading something along the lines of "configuring service pack, stage 2 out of 4". How did I get into a service pack installation without knowing about it?

Then the computer shut down. I have not yet figured out all the cases when it shuts itself off but this time I definitely did not shut it down. Instead of rebooting it just powered itself off. Which means it's done, right?

HA! Booting the box again greeted me with "configuring service pack, stage 3 out of 4" message. Naturally, my computer remains unusable for probably going on 20 minutes now.

At this point I started writing this post. The update went through stages 3 and 4 in the time it took me to compose most of it.

Next item on the todo list: disable everything related to windows updates. Rendering my machine useless for an hour at arbitrary times is just unacceptable. There are all kinds of background things happening on the system already - I know this because the hard drive light is nearly solid on regardless of whether I am doing anything on the machine or not - so just install everything in the background or forget it.

Update:

I leave the windows computer alone for half a day to do something else. When I come back to it guess what it tells me? "There are updates available to be installed."

And, checking windows update settings, the thing is configured to install updates automatically. So there is in fact no background installation option - what I have (been enduring) is the "most automatic" option already. Ugh.