All of us Windows users are well aware of Windows Update. Whenever we have to reinstall Windows, the tedious process of re-updating the system takes place. It makes us wish there were offline setups available, so that it doesn’t stay dependant on the Internet. Although, that would take more time as you’ll have to launch more setup files, click through more dialogue boxes ( and more UAC prompts in Vista ). But there are some people who might need a specific Windows Update for their use. Where do you find that setup?

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In comes Microsoft  Update Catalog. Made for corporate environments, this service lets you download updates that can distributed over corporate networks and so on. These updates include software updates, drivers and hotfixes ( no Ultimate Extras though! ). The setup files of any individual selected update is downloaded which can then be installed manually. It supports all Microsoft products that can be updated, although I was unable to find the setup for Visual Studio SP 1 yet.

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You’ll have to install an Active-X control to be able to download files from this site. The website installs its own download control, which is very easy on the eyes and works well too. You can select the location of where you would want to save the files and you’re good to go.

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The percentage on the progress bar looks funny in IE 8 Beta 2

Still, why would you want to use this you ask? Ever needed to install Visual Studio Service Packs? or Office Service Packs? SQL server updates? They take a long time to download and install through Windows Update. And re-downloading them after a reinstall can be annoying. Although, those updates are available on the Microsoft Downloads website, the streamlined interface of Microsoft Update Catalog beats the crap out of Microsoft Downloads. The great thing about it is that you can queue up multiple downloads and not have to worry about opening lots of Windows to find all your updates.

Microsoft recommends using Windows Update for non-corporate scenarios. But even for home uses, this website certainly saves you a lot of time. It can also help if you, for some odd reason, have Windows Update disabled.

Although this is targeted towards Corporate clients, Microsoft Update Catalog can be very handy and a great time saver for many. But proceed with caution, an update not for your system could wreck havoc.