Using 'Windows Update Notifier' to automatically download and install Windows 8 Defender definition updates more frequently

Posted by Paul Braren on Mar 27 2013 (updated on Apr 6 2013) in
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    I've been looking for a way to avoid Windows Server 2012 Essentials Dashboard warnings, nagging me about my Windows Defender definitions getting out of date on the dozen client PCs backed up daily. Fixing this, with automatic download and install of these definitions, could have the side-benefit of a shorter vulnerability to zero-day attacks. Glad I found just such a fix, it's Windows Update Notifier.

    For a great overview of the simple CodePlex 'Windows Update Notifier' utility, check out this great article:

    Make Windows 8 Display a Desktop Notification for Updates
    by Brian Burgess on January 16, 2013

    As I read the article and tried the utility, the more I thought about it, I began to wonder, what's not to like?

    • open source
    • free
    • GNU General Public licensing explained here
    • portable (just an .exe, no install needed)
    • could be a way to avoid Windows Server 2012 Essentials warnings that clutter up the Dashboard
    • takes just 547K of disk space, and 804K of RAM, with ~0% CPU when idle, and 1% CPU when it's launching Windows Update (Windows Updates processing takes more resources, but only when needed)
    • may work on Windows 7 for Security Essentials (I only tested on Windows 8)
    • does work on Windows 8 for built-in Windows Defender

    As of March 27, 2013, somehow, only 236 downloads to date. I suspect that'll change soon!


    Save the zip, unzip the one file, WindowsUpdateNotifier.exe, to a static folder, such as C:\util

    Right-click the WindowsUpdateNotifier.exe file, Run As Administrator, then set it up as seen below and click OK. That's it!


    Once you've configured it the way you like, you can completely download, install, and configure it on another Windows system in under 2 minutes.

    Time will tell if it reduces the warnings my Windows Server 2012 Essentials daily backup server gives me about out-of-date antivirus definitions, but it sure looks extremely promising, based on my findings that you'll witness for yourself during the recording of the walk-thru and test video below.

    Let us know how your experience with Windows Update Notifier goes, by dropping a comment below.


    Mar. 28 2013 Update:
    So far, so good, greeted with this pop-up today a few minutes ago, which discretely went away after a few seconds (pictured below), and didn't take mouse focus from my main application. Not something I'm worried about my extended family seeing on their systems, for their nearly daily definition updates. Suppressing all such defender pop-ups would frankly be even better. Worded differently, a future enhancement suggestion would be to allow a setting where the only popups would be for urgent Windows Update issues, such as those where you're prompted to reboot because it's been waiting for 2 days for you to let it reboot. Kind of like a family friendly/minimal nag mode. Just a thought.


    Mar. 29 Update:
    Still going well. Spotted it trying to do updates today, and it took about 30 seconds (and no obvious CPU use) to fail and say something about the updates server not available. But then it tried again soon after a few seconds later (when I grabbed this screenshot below), and succeeded. Seems to be tame as far as direct CPU utilization, although that's expected, since this utility really just launches the more resource intensive Windows Update.


    Also worth noting that the little pop-up on my system, as the WS2012E (Windows Server 2012 Essentials Administrator) with LaunchPad always left running, continues to be annoying. This is because I don't yet have WUN (Windows Update Notifier) installed on all my client machines, so defender definition pdates continue to lag.

    In the end, perhaps I will need to look into making my WS2012E box a WSUS server after all, which could reduce the direct hits on Microsoft Update servers and reduce load on family's networks a bit. But it would also increase complexity, and have me shouldering more admin load. So I remain on the fence, will see how things go.


    Mar. 30 2013 Update:
    Well, turns out Windows Update Notifier doesn't work on Windows 7. The likely reason is that it's only designed for KB2267602, the definitions for Windows Defender that comes with Windows 8. On Windows 7, the definitions are KB2310138, for the free to download Microsoft Security Essentials.

    I've visted the author's forum and put in some feedback here, asking for Windows 7 / KB2310138 compatibility, and a stealthy mode. This would be good for gamers and broadcasters, where you don't want a desktop popup taking focus away from what you're doing, but you do want automatic signature updates more frequently. See also Poly Sorbate's Lifehacker post here, with a possible way to use Task Scheduler to more frequent definition downloads and installs on Windows 7.


    As expected, this gem's popularity is growing, with 226 downloads as of March 27,  and 926 as of March 30, 2013.

    Apr. 06 2013 Update:
    The author has posted this promising update in the forum here. Here's an excerpt:


    Of course a stealth mode is possible. I will take this feature into account for the next release.

    I didn't pay attenton to Windows 7 systems when I have implemented the auto-update-feature. But I will correct the KB-Id which is used for Windows Defender Updates on Windows 7 systems in the next release.