Windows 10 Won’t Waste Your Time With Unexpected Updates Anymore

Posted on July 25, 2018 by Mehedi Hassan in Windows, Windows 10 with 38 Comments

Microsoft just released two new Windows 10 builds to Insiders. The firm today started testing the next Windows 10 update, codenamed 19H1, with a select group of Insiders, and it’s introducing a major new improvement for the OS.

With Windows 10 Redstone 5, Microsoft is making changes to the update system. The company is implementing a new cloud-based logic for the Windows Update system, in order to avoid unexpected updates when you really need to get work done on your computer. The update utilizes a predictive model that will improve over time in order to better understand when you are going to use your device. This way, Windows can make sure it’s not disrupting your work and install the update when you are actually expecting it to. It will consider contextual things like if you were currently using your device before restarting or try to predict when you move from your device to grab a coffee, etc.

Microsoft says the company found the new model to produce “promising results” internally. The reliability of the system is still up in the air, of course — but since it’s a deep learning system, it is going to improve over time as Microsoft trains the model with more data. This way, the system will not only be more reliable for everyone over time, but it should also be more personalized to your own habits and device usage. Still, Windows will have to install updates eventually, so it may still seem “unexpected” to some. Either way, the feature should ship with Redstone 5, which is expected to arrive for the public later this year, sometime around October.

Windows updates have long been annoying to regular consumers, mainly because they tend to unexpectedly disrupt their workflow. Microsoft has implemented features like Active Hours to help avoid this kind of behaviour in recent years, though most consumers aren’t really aware of the feature’s existence. An intelligent system that’s more proactive and designed into the core of the system sounds more effective, so I’m quite pleased to see Microsoft investing some good work here.

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Comments (38)

38 responses to “Windows 10 Won’t Waste Your Time With Unexpected Updates Anymore”

  1. bluvg

    If Windows just saved and restored state well, a couple minutes for a reboot wouldn't be a big deal. But when you have a dozen email messages and a couple dozen docs and spreadsheets and work and active queries in other applications to bring back up... then reboots are a huge pain. They introduced Restart Manager in Vista, but only certain actions (e.g., Windows Update reboots) trigger it, and it doesn't always work.

    • Winner

      In reply to bluvg:

      It's a big deal if you are in the middle of a meeting.

      • bluvg

        In reply to Winner:

        That part has an easy, already-available fix, though: just postpone the update.

        • Jorge Garcia

          In reply to bluvg:

          If you don't use a certain PC for a while...sometimes the cumulative update process is un-postponable. You just turn it on and it force-updates on you. Happens all the time when I visit my mother's house...I dust off the Windows 10 PC and boom! a sometimes fast, sometimes lengthy update is force-fed at start-up. This is why Terry Myerson got fired in my opinion.

  2. MikeGalos

    A side note, Mehedi,

    The point of doing a photo to illustrate a story is to show a visual reflecting the actual story. That means not confusing the image with your customizations like "Dark Mode" that aren't related. Dark blue text on a black background kind of defeats the point of the screen shot even if it does make you feel like one of the cool kids.

  3. hrlngrv

    Predictive analytics rather than just a PAUSE SWITCH. What could possibly go wrong?

    Thank God for utilities like Stims, which makes Windows believe a PC is in active use even with no human around.

    How about detecting whether one or more foreground processes is using more than 5% of CPU time per minute and don't work on updates while that's the case. People could leave time-consuming tasks running over night with some confidence Windows won't fubar their work.

    Return to PAUSE SWITCH. Windows Update needs one.

  4. longhorn

    I have a radical idea for updates, inspired by Windows 7 and 8.1. Four options:

    1 Install automatically

    2 Download updates and notify

    3 Notify only

    4 Never check for updates

    This is what we had... and now it's just a PITA. People are using third-party solutions just to be able to get work done.

  5. BoItmanLives

    I have a better model: fuck off and let me choose when to update.

    Users shouldn't have to resort to third party hacks that block updates just to ensure they can continue to work or show a PowerPoint without the rug getting pulled out and the g.d. "don't turn off your computer" blue screen mocking you.

    • JudaZuk

      In reply to BoItmanLives:

      or even better, let us update without a reboot

      • offTheRecord

        In reply to JudaZuk:

        I've been begging for this for years (decades?). I'd be happy if I could just save state so that I could reboot without having to shut everything down and could pick up exactly where I left off on the restart. I'm assuming this is a hard computer science problem since no one seems to have been able to crack this nut in 2018.

        Based on this latest effort to tinker with Windows Update, it's clear that even Microsoft realizes that Windows 10's update mechanism is basically broken -- at a minimum, it's user hostile. Given that they're trying to use AI to "solve" this problem, it's also clear that they don't want to give users the control that users clearly want.

    • fgdsfgd

      In reply to BoItmanLives:

      Lol, "Intelligent and Deep Learning" don't go with Windows Update. We've been promised for a decade that updates won't reboot a PC or reboot it less and all we have ever received is more reboots a month.

  6. JudaZuk

    Another brain dead idea trying to provide yet another workaround to a problem they themselves have created.

    Why not just solve the problem instead of constantly, and for years now, try to work around the problem???

    This solution simply will not work , no matter how cool "Machine learning" and "Artificial intelligence" sounds.

    There are several reasons why this will not work.

    1. Mot people use laptops nowadays, and when they do not use their computer, it is turned off. You most definitely would not want the computer to start by itself and eat up bandwidth, battery life, and potentially cause a fire/heat in a bag because it heats up in a bag you put it in, because you assumed a computer that was turned off, was turned off.
    2. Many of us that use our computer for work, use our computer all the time in very different times. I know for a fact I do .. and there is no set pattern. No matter how much the pattern prediction is trying, that pattern will change at random all the time. Updates that require a reboot will disturb me, no matter when they are trying to do them.
    3. A stationary computer you have running all day long 24// will have a tendency to have open documents, (not in Word) , CAD files, programs, video edits etc etc .. and if you reboot my computer because you think it is not used, and I loose data.. I will not be a happy camper.

    The issue is , as it has been for years with Windows, the need for a reboot way to often.

    With Linux you can update almost everything (except the kernel, well actually nowadays you can do live patching in some situations) without a reboot .. why can Microsoft not at least attempt to offer something similar by now ??

    • lvthunder

      In reply to JudaZuk:

      Linux and Windows are written differently so they can't be updated in the same way. I can't remember what the differences were. I heard Paul talk about it on Windows Weekly one time.

      1. Actually most people just close the lid so it goes to sleep. They could run the update using a little power while the machine sleeps. Just do it right when it goes to sleep and you'll have it done before the bag can heat up.
      2. I bet there is more of a pattern then you think.
      3. I would think by now you would close your documents or at least save when you are done for the day. How can you back that stuff up if you haven't saved and have them open.
  7. pderosa

    I will block them (and install them on my schedule) until I have full control. It is my computer.

  8. madthinus

    So they will only install new versions when they are stable and have meaningful features? Oh, I see, never mind.

  9. madthinus

    At the heart of this problem is that Windows is updated on a schedule of a service, but still with the same deployment method developed for Windows Vista. It is monolithic, slow and time consuming. The download is 2.6Gb because it is a complete iso, yet the moment that is done, you download updates and every single app again. The photos app is now 350Mb on a clean install, Mail, 280Mb. If you measure the before and after on a Windows upgrade, more than a gig of data is pulled down to update the store alone, before you grab the cummalative updates. If they are really serious about doing this longterm, it is time they rethink how this baby is coming down every six months.

  10. Darekmeridian

    I don't know, I keep thinking about the days of installing Windows 7 and having it take literally all night to do a bazillion updates on a relatively fast machine.

    People, especially enthusiasts are never going to be happy with anything that has to do with updating.

  11. justme

    Regardless of what Microsoft says, Windows 10 will continue to waste your time with unexpected updates. "Promising results internally" does not automatically translate to success externally. Unless Windows 10 goes back to a system similar to WIndows 7/8/8.1 where you could choose to update or not and when, with the current delivery methodology you *will* get interrupted at some point and almost certainly when you least want the interruption to occur.

    I understand wanting to have users at a common patch level - but for those of us used to managing our own systems, serving us updates on the schedule of a service with a system of delivery methodology that was designed pre-Windows 7 is a horrendous DISservice.

  12. DadCooks

    Haven't we heard this and a bazillion variations before. The "promise" hasn't really happened before and I highly doubt it will this time. So what's new? Nothing.

  13. skane2600

    First of all, there's no guarantee that a deep learning system will improve over time. The other problem is that there's insufficient data. What an individual user considers a priority activity isn't going to be captured.

    This may be the first time an 'AI' system is used to avoid a more powerful human-based system - simply letting the user decide if or when to update.

  14. curtisspendlove

    Excellent. Even with Active Hours set properly, I have been interrupted by forced reboots at least three mornings in the last few months.

    I know I shouldn’t put them off until Windows gets angry, but there often aren’t great times to do it. Friday afternoon, that would be a great time. Not Monday or Tuesday morning, an hour into my workday.

    Personally, I’d kinda like to see the Clippy Update Assistant.

    “I see you are going to grab a cup of coffee, mind if I take fifteen and update your computer while you’re talking about Survivor with your coworkers?”

    Spooky accurate, Clippy.

  15. nbplopes

    I really don't understand why is this so difficult to achieve by MS.

  16. zorb56

    Please... I can't even get windows to automatically wake from sleep to update with the current active hours implementation.

  17. fishnet37222

    How about just popping up a notification that updates are available and letting us install them on our own time?

    • danmac

      In reply to fishnet37222:

      I agree, the largest issue is that when an update is ready, restarting or shutting down automatically starts the update process.

      Make it a popup that you can't dismiss from the Notification Centre until you click it, like MacOS has been doing for years.

  18. jbinaz

    19H1 = First Half 2019? Could they be moving away from the April/September release schedule?

  19. UbelhorJ

    The biggest thing for me that would improve it is if Windows was smart enough to prompt for updates at the end of my day instead of the beginning.

    It always wants to do it in the morning when I've got a full day ahead of me, so I delay it and then forget until the next day, and then delay it again.

    They already know when I'm leaving as Cortana pops up every day to tell me traffic info.

  20. VancouverNinja

    Looks like they are listening and trying to improve on it. ?

  21. red.radar

    How about let the user decide ?

    I doubt they take into account real-time work loads. They probably just assume that people only write office documents and answer emails

  22. thalter

    I mention this every time you make a post on patching, but it bears repeating: Linux has supported no-reboot patching for years now. There is no reason Windows should to reboot after installing a patch. See here for details of how it works:

    • hrlngrv

      In reply to thalter:

      Kernel upgrades still require reboots.

      • compunut

        In reply to hrlngrv:

        I think this supports thalter's statement. We should, based on this theory, reboot Windows every 6 months when we get a new major build. Instead, we get near weekly reboots every time Microsoft releases any patch of any kind. I believe there have been 3 so far this month, for instance.

        I could support the idea of rebooting Win 10 every 6 months when a major release upgrades to a new kernel, but they need to stop with the constant reboots if they want Win 10 to be a good choice for productivity.

    • lvthunder

      In reply to thalter:

      Windows and Linux were written differently and such you have to update them differently. I don't remember exactly what the difference was, but Paul talked about it on Windows Weekly one time.

  23. Jorge Garcia

    This is the #1 thing they need to fix. If we MUST update, then most of the updating NEEDS to happen in the background, somehow, so that there should only be a single restart and at, the absolute most, a 3-minute follow-up process. If this goal is unrealistic/un-achievable, then Windows is completely doomed outside of the business world and the diminishing pool of wonks like us that feel the need to accomplish heavy-duty computing at home. Who are we kidding, it's finished anyway, even with a decent update process. Screw Windows as a service. All of my PC's run (paid) Windows 8.1.1 (With Stardock's Start8), and they will run this until Windows has a suitable replacement.