A Hands-On Look at Windows Security Update CD

It took a long time for Microsoft to get a Windows Update CD out and even longer to get it to me. I hope the delay is because everyone who needs one is ordering one.

Some time ago I observed that the volume of downloads for updating Windows was large and impractical for any dial-up user. Microsoft should, I suggested, issue a CD with the updates, or put ISO images on their site for others to download and burn. You all agreed.

Not too long thereafter, Microsoft announced that it would issue such a CD. I finally got mine, and Im ready to install. I wish I had something more recent than the February 2004 CD, but I knew they would only issue these periodically, and Ill just have to do the rest of the updates online. The files on the CD all appear to be dated Feb. 5, 2004, and today is April 8, 2004. Order your own from Microsoft by clicking here.

I created a completely naked, unpatched Windows 98 Second Edition system. The version of IE on it was 5.00.2614.3500, which was later than I expected. Perhaps my Windows 98SE files, from the MSDN distribution, were updated somehow. Still. 5.0x is mighty old. Outlook Express is 5.0.2615.200. I also made a point of not letting the system connect immediately to the Internet.

The Autorun on the CD opens up a typical wizard. First you have to get through the licensing agreement. The next page tells you basically what the CD will do and then you click the "Install Updates" button on it. An ActiveX control, the "Windows Security Update CD" control, signed by Microsoft, is installed. The system reboots.


After the reboot, Windows goes into one of those "Updating System Settings ..." meditations for several minutes. Now the Windows Security Update CD window is back up, and a progress bar moves across it. Windows are popping up, and off the screen individual patches are apparently being installed. The progress indicator is not much help, since it starts all over again when its done. But the text on the screen is changing periodically to tell the story.

Hey ... It rebooted again ... Could it actually be done already?

Yes it is! I didnt stopwatch it, but I think it was maybe 20 minutes, a massive improvement over the online alternative, which I feel safe saying would be at least a couple hours on a fast connection, and possibly days over dial-up, including numerous reboots and manual restarts of the process.

Next page: Still work to do.