I'm not proud to say it only took me 11 months to add this feature, but i'm happy to say that i have implemented it, and will upload it in the next few days.
The new version of dcuhelper works as follows:
You bundle dcuhelper.exe (still about 100k) with your executable, and invoke it to check for updates.
As before, if the user has the full dcupdater installed, that will be used to check for updates and manage their installation if any are found.
What's changed is the behavior if the user does NOT have the main dcupdater tool installed.
In the past, the dcuhelper.exe would open the program web page and dcupdater page, where they could manually check to see if an update had been released.
Now, dcuhelper.exe will actually check on it's own if an update is available (note this only works with installs that have a single .dcupdate file and won't recursively check plugin updates).
If dcuhelper detects a new version available (or an error), it will behave as before and open the program web page in the browser for user to download and install the new version manually.
If there is no update, dcuhelper will behave like dcupdater and silently exit without bothering the user.
I hope this new feature will offer people the best of both worlds -- very lightweight update checking for people who don't want a full fledged update downloader and prefer to do things manually, and a full featured update tool for people who prefer an automated solution, and for complicated cases like plugins, etc. The bottom line is that in the past users HAD to install the main dcupdater tool to get any useful benefit -- whereas now dcuhelper.exe on its own will be good enough for most users. This should make bundling dcuhelper with your application more clearly a good thing to do.
I'll post the new version in a few days and would appreciate any help testing.