I have been able to speed things up by installing the W7 SP1 network install package (google finds that.)
That and more at http://www.howtogeek.com/255435/how-to-update-windows-7-all-at-once-with-microsofts-convenience-rollup/
I am trying to do some updates on my usual computer, as well as one I have had in a box (unused) for some period of time. I have been attempting this via the (Dell) computer's Windows Update utility, and it seems that there is just zero response from MS's servers. My internet connection seems fully functional based on other website activity. Any observations about why or whether this is usual, and is there something I should be looking at in detail?