Typically, you download and install Windows updates through the Windows Update tool. However, sometimes you may need to manually find and download certain updates. This is where the Microsoft Update Catalog comes in. While it’s not a fancy-looking site, it is the ultimate destination for updates.
What Is the Microsoft Update Catalog
Technically, the Microsoft Update Catalog is made for businesses. Instead of bogging down a network during peak hours, IT admins can download necessary updates from the catalog and manually push them out to computers on the network during off-peak business hours.
Just because it was designed with enterprises in mind doesn’t mean individuals can’t use it too. The catalog works out well if you’re having issues with Windows Update, need updates for a computer that’s offline, or if you’re trying to repair something that went wrong with Windows. Microsoft does recommend that non-business users opt for the Microsoft Download Center, though.
Despite how simple and dated the catalog site looks, it does its job. Think of it as a basic search engine with no bells and whistles. You can search for major and minor updates, hotfixes, drivers, and anything else you’d find in Windows Update.
Finding What You Need
The Microsoft Update Catalog isn’t the most user-friendly. For instance, there aren’t filters to help limit your search parameters. This means it’s best if you already know what you’re looking for.
IT admins likely already know the knowledge base, or KB, numbers for updates or driver details. For individuals, it’s best to check with Windows Update to see the details of any failed downloads.
Press Win + I to open Settings. Choose “Update & Security.” Select “Windows Update.” Failed updates may be listed along with pending updates. If you don’t see anything, select “View Update History.”
Each update has a name, date, and knowledge base number in parentheses. You can also expand Drivers, Definition Updates, and Other Updates to view details about those. You only need to download updates that are listed as Failed.
All these same details for failed updates should be listed on the main Windows Update screen as well.
Once you have your KB number or other details, enter those into the search box on the Microsoft Update Catalog site.
You can use general search terms if you’re not sure what you’re looking for. For instance, you may just want to see the latest Windows 10 updates, so you’d search for “Windows 10.” You could then base things off of the update release date, classification, and product.
Picking the Right Update
As you might have noticed, even when I entered the KB number, a wide variety of updates popped up. This doesn’t mean you need all of those – you just need the one designed for your OS.
In my case, I’d need the Windows 10 64-bit version. You also need to know the current version of your OS. In my case, this is 2004. All the details for each update are listed with the update itself.
If you’re not sure about these details, you can find everything you need by pressing Win + I to open Settings. Select System and scroll down in the left pane and select About. You’ll see details about your system, OS version, and more.
You can sort each column in ascending or descending order. This is the closest you have to a filter. Click the column heading in the search results to sort.
Downloading and Installing Updates
When you find the right update, click the name of the update to view more details. The most important item is the link to the relevant knowledge base article for your update.
Click the link under “More Information” or Support URL. This provides you with any known issues with the update so you’re note surprised. It also gives you detailed instructions on how to install the update. Make sure you read all these details before downloading and installing.
When you’re ready, go back to the Microsoft Update Catalog and click Download beside the update you want.
Click the provided download link in the pop-up box. If you don’t see a pop-up, you may need to turn off any ad blockers. You only need to turn them off for the catalog site.
Depending on the size of the download, this could take several minutes or more. With security and major system updates, most files are around 500 MB to several gigabytes.
Follow any instructions on the knowledge base article for your update to install it. You can also store it on an external hard drive or flash drive to install on another system. Just make sure you pick the correct update file(s) based on the destination system’s specifications. In the mean time, don’t forget to check out the latest Windows update problems to learn about the potential issue with Windows update.