Are you on dial up? You mentioned that you need to connect to your ISP. Are you wireless? maybe you're in an area with a bad wireless connection. Is this the first time you're downloading updates? I'd say you need to create an exception in your firewall for Microsoft Windows Updates. I had to do so before it even went to the updates page. Edit: After reading your add ons, its possible that some of your previous updates to make your Windows more secure requires you to create an exception in your firewall. How long did it used to take? Do you have anything else running when you are getting updates? Edit: What update was it? SP3? I had quite a fun time trying to get that one.