minimalistik, I’m not sure where you got that info from but in my experience this is not true – at least with XP. Windows Updates absolutely provides you with the option/choice to download every single update possible for your machine. The scan it goes through is a detection and tailors the update packages just for your machine based on what is already installed.
Here is what Windows XP help files say about Windows Update:
Windows Update is the online extension of Windows. Use Windows Update to download items such as security fixes, critical updates, the latest Help files, drivers, and Internet products. New content is added to the site regularly, so you can always get the most recent updates and fixes to protect your computer and keep it running smoothly.
Windows Update scans your computer and provides you with a tailored selection of updates that apply only to the items on your computer.
Any update that Microsoft considers critical to the operation of your operating system, programs, or hardware is classified as a “critical update” and is automatically selected for you to install. Critical updates are provided to help resolve known issues and protect your computer from known security vulnerabilities.
The last part would make sense for what you are saying if that were the only thing it provided you to download, but it gives you optional downloads as well. Drivers, patches, etc. that aren’t necessarily needed or security risks.
You’re only limited by the 56k connection, so a few hrs vs a few weeks is not worth it to wait for a cd IMO.