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I wrote a review of a previous version of WuInstall a while back, where I explained the philosophy behind the Windows update command tool. Since the dawn of PowerShell, more and more Windows admins feel comfortable with scripting. If you currently deploy Windows updates with WSUS and would like to have greater flexibility, you should look at WuInstall. The command-line tool supports WSUS, but you can also use it without Microsoft’s patch management solution.
The main point about WuInstall is that you get better control over which updates you deploy, when you deploy them, and to which machines in your network. Because you can use the command-line tool in your scripts, you can automate your update strategy and adapt it to every environment.
WuInstall comes with a variety of filters that allow you to narrow down the updates you want to deploy: /severity, /classification, /product, /match, /nomatch, /matchfile, /nomatchfile, and /isdownloaded. You will probably know the severity and classification filters from Windows Update. Most interesting, from a scripting guy’s point of view, is the match filter that allows you to work with regular expressions.
A major problem with all patch management solutions is with the updates that require reboots. WuInstall gives you tight control over the reboot options. I think the reboot switches speak for themselves: /reboot [nseconds], /reboot_if_needed [nseconds], /rebootcycle [ntimes], /reboot_force [nseconds], /reboot_if_needed_force [nseconds], and /shutdown [nseconds]. And, remember, since you are using WuInstall in a script, you can work with very specific settings for different kinds of updates and different kinds of machines.
The new version 2.0 has been redesigned and optimized for Windows 8.1 / Windows Server 2012 and offers quite a few new switches. For instance, /releasedate allows you to install updates before, after, or on a specific date. With the new /targetgroup switch, you can target computer groups. If you have computers in your network that have no Internet connection or can’t access a WSUS server, you will like the /offlinescan switch. You can use it to search for updates against a cab file, which you can download from Microsoft. The /options switch enables you to load settings from a file or through HTTP. WuInstall 2.0 also has a couple of new switches that you can use to configure a proxy through which the updates are downloaded.
The video demonstration below gives you a few examples of how you can work with WuInstall at the command prompt.