Depending on the update, the inital extraction of files can be quite lengthy - and you may not be looking at the HD light at the right time. I've known it to be a couple of minutes between brief flashes of the light (depends a lot on the speed of the machine, and what else is going on). There's a lot of stuff that goes on in the background as the system first reads a section of the file, then expands it, and decides what it needs, then how to properly install it. In a system with a fast hard drive but a lot of stuff running in the background, you may get a 0.5 second HD flash, followed by apparently nothing for another minute or so.
Next time try looking at the Task Manager - The TrustedInstaller may be using 90%+ of the processor to check the file integrity. or actually supervise the install (which is often actually done by the msiexec.exe program)