How to check the Microsoft Update Catalog with any browser

Microsoft says it'll fix the Update Catalog's dependency on ActiveX someday, but you can bypass IE right now if you know the trick

How to check the Microsoft Update Catalog with any browser

Many patches don't go through the usual Windows Update channels. As I explained earlier today, even the patch that fixes Microsoft's botched security update KB 3177725 is only available in the Windows Update Catalog.

That fix, KB 3187022, has been available for at least a week, but it isn't being distributed through Windows Update. The official Windows Update page lists it as "Deployment: Catalog," which means you can only get it by going to the Microsoft Update Catalog, downloading, and manually installing it.

If you go to the KB article and click on the link to download the patch, you get the helpful note shown here that "you must be running Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 or later." That's because the site relies on a long-discredited and rapidly fading technology Microsoft-proprietary technology known as ActiveX.

update catalog

Microsoft has told us, as recently as this May, that it's going to fix the Update Catalog real soon now. Microsoft senior product manager Nathan Mercer said in a May 17 blog post:

Within the next few months Windows updates will no longer be available from the Microsoft Download Center.  Security bulletins will continue to link directly to the updates, but will point to the packages on the Microsoft Update Catalog instead of the Microsoft Download Center. Customers that use tools linking to the Microsoft Download Center should follow the links provided in the Security Bulletins or search directly on the Microsoft Update Catalog.

For those who aren't familiar with the Microsoft Update Catalog website, note that it still requires using Internet Explorer at this point because of an ActiveX control used.  Later this summer, we will be updating the site to eliminate the ActiveX control in order to support other browsers.

Poster abbodi86 on AskWoody filled me in on a secret to get at the patches without using Internet Explorer (or the execrable Catalog interface). It short-circuits the ActiveX front end by looking at the RSS feed for KB articles.

If you use any browser to search for:

filling in the desired KB number for "xxxxxxx," your browser returns a list of KB articles that contain that KB number. Clicking on the first (most recent) entry in the list generally takes you to the download site for the KB patch that you seek. At the top of the resulting page, click Download Now, and the installable MSU file gets downloaded to your browser's download folder.

Abbodi86 further advises that you can change the query string, using "+" instead of spaces, and look for KB articles in the RSS feed that match any string you like. In his example:

You see a list of all KB articles that include "10," "for," and "64" -- which includes both updates and cumulative updates for various 64-bit Windows 10 versions.

Slick. Go ahead and take your time, Microsoft.

Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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