Microsoft is looking to ease congestion on its Windows Update servers by moving to a seemingly-optional peer-to-peer distribution process in the upcoming Windows 10 operating system.
While not yet officially confirmed as a feature by Microsoft, a private beta build of Windows 10 obtained by The Verge
has a new option within its Windows Update configuration: enabling 'updates from more than one place
.' Although somewhat oddly worded, the feature appears to enable peer-to-peer distribution of patches from the local network or the internet at large - a move which should considerably ease the load on Microsoft's servers come the second Tuesday of every month, the company's regular patch release day.
The move to a peer-to-peer distribution system, where Windows machines that have already downloaded patches would be used to distribute said patches to other systems, would have numerous benefits for the company. As well as lowering its hosting costs and improving the speed at which patches are downloaded, the ability to share updates amongst machines on a local network would mean that each patch would only need to be downloaded over the WAN (wide-area network) connection once - saving users' data transfer allowances and greatly speeding up installation. It's such a good idea, in fact, that Microsoft's corporate products already do exactly that: the Windows Server Update Service (WSUS) allows enterprise users to download patches to a central machine on the network, where they can be approved for distribution to local-network clients.
Details of the exact peer-to-peer distribution system chosen by Microsoft and how it will operate are not yet available, but the system is believed to be based around the Pando Networks technology Microsoft acquired in 2013. Other notable uses of peer-to-peer distribution for patches include Blizzard's World of Warcraft, which uses BitTorrent technology.
Microsoft has not commented on the leak or the planned feature, and neither has the functionality arrived in the public Windows 10 Technology Preview.