Apple has stopped offering standalone update packages for macOS, ending a long-running tradition. The change appears to have taken place as of macOS Big Sur 11.1.
The update packages were useful for people who wanted to be able to update multiple machines at once while using the same file, downloaded once.
Now, anyone wanting to update machines will need to do so manually, via the System Preferences pane. It also means that these machines will need to be connected to the internet in order to be updated.
Apple hasn’t officially said that the update packages are dead, but it appears to have been noticed by Mr. Macintosh, with a tweet saying that Apple now wants users to ask for the update packages “in an official capacity.” What that actually means, however, isn’t clear.
While it’s possible that this is all a misunderstanding and that the update packages will return, it doesn’t look like that is the case at this point. It also isn’t clear why Apple would go this route, either. Maybe the Mac mini the update packages were hosted on has finally run out of disk space!
Manual downloadable delta and combo updates for Big Sur are no longer available. I will let our resident #MacAdmins expert explain 👇
“If you have a need for individual downloads for Big Sur delta/combo updaters – please make sure that’s filed in an official capacity with us” 🐸
— Mr. Macintosh (@ClassicII_MrMac) December 17, 2020
For now, it seems the only option for administrators who need to update multiple machines might be to use Content Caching on one Mac and allow others to receive the update via that route instead.
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