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Question about recent updates

Virusscan Plus 2009, Windows XP Home Edition, IE 7.

I've noticed that since recently (I'm not sure if the switch to the 2009 range has anything to do with it) updating takes much more time. That's for both downloading the daily updates and installing the updates. Probably anything from 3 to 10 times as some time ago.

Why is that ? More malware, more signatures ?

Also, about the mcupdmgr.exe (I hope I got the name right) process that carries out the actual process of updating (typically goes to 99 or 100 % of CPU when auto-updating):
why do I frequently see it briefly taking a small % of my CPU (monitoring processes in task manager) ? That's new. I'd appreciate an answer.
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