I've installed an official retail copy of Win7 Ultimate 32bit (original, no SP1). During setup I set the windows update option to "ask later". When I finally get to the desktop, the first thing I do before installing any software, any drivers, or making any changes of any kind is to open windows update and set it to 'never', then click the 'check' button. The green bar does it's animation... for FIVE HOURS (and 4 minutes). During the entire time the cpu is completely maxed out (straight 100% flat line). According to the resource monitor, svchost is the offender (accounting for 95+%) with the wuauserv service being the problem child. After 5 hours it pops up with updates as expected, and I can install them as expected, but the next check will again take another 5 hours (and 4 minutes). This is completely repeatable.
I finally got SP1 installed but gave up after a couple rounds of updates (the first round I said screw it and just installed all 100+ updates at once. It crashed and burned halfway through after a few hours (no surprise) and I had to reinstall and start over). I've downloaded SP1 standalone and installed that first, but no dice. Then I installed on top of that the KB2775511 rollup, windows update agent v7.6, and the KB3050265 patch. That lowers the ram usage but doesn't do anything about the cpu being maxed out or otherwise solve the problem.
I've been at this for a week. I've searched high and low but all the "solutions" I see are the generic advice to disable antivirus, clean boot, or wipe and reinstall... none of which applies to a virgin setup. Does anyone have any ideas?