Minimizing restarts after automatic updating in Windows Update

Before the Internet, updates such as service packs and "patches" were impossibly hard to come by. You ordered upgrade "media" or maybe bought a magazine with a CD in it. Of course, the Internet changed all that. In fact, when was first set up, among the first services was the ability to get updates for MS-DOS and Windows. With the introduction of Windows Update, we invested heavily in building not just a software delivery service, but a commitment to delivering high quality updates in a timely manner. It took some time to get to the point where customers trust these automatic updates, and we’re proud of how far we’ve come. Today Windows Update is one of the largest services on the Internet by several measures, and of course we’re using Windows 8 development as a chance to improve the experience of product updates too. This post was authored by Farzana Rahman, the group program manager of our Windows Update group.

When it comes to Windows Update, one of the most discussed topics is the disruptiveness of restarts in the course of automatic updating. And for good reason—restarts can interrupt you right in the middle of something important.

The obvious question to ask first is why does the installation of updates even require a restart at all? Ideally, we would like all update installations to happen seamlessly in the background without a restart. But, in reality, there are situations where the installer is not able to update files because they are in use. In these cases, we need to restart your machine to complete the installation. The automatic updating experience thus needs to be able to handle cases where restarts are required.

We know this architectural challenge is one that frustrates administrators and end-users alike, but it does represent the state of the art for Windows. It is important to understand that for many updates, even if you could continue running the existing code that is already in memory, it is that very code that is a security vulnerability (for example), so the risk to the security (or reliability) of the machine would remain until you restart your machine. We’ll keep working on this one. In the meantime, applications that support the Windows Restart Manager (introduced in Windows Vista) can return you to precisely where you left off after a restart.

In this blog, I want to talk about some of the improvements we are making to the automatic updating experience in Windows 8, which will make restarts a little less annoying.

First, some facts about Windows Update

Windows Update (or WU, as we like to say within the team) currently updates over 350 million PCs running Windows 7 and over 800 million PCs across all the supported Windows platforms. There are actually many more PCs updated by WU indirectly if you account for our Windows Software Update Server, and for those machines (or customers) that do all updates manually for any number of reasons.

Since its genesis over a decade ago, the Windows Update experience has evolved quite a bit to adapt to a changing ecosystem, especially the changing requirements around security. And Windows Update has been quite successful in updating PCs in time to stay ahead of large-scale exploits against Windows.

Since the introduction of automatic updating, we have constantly worked to tighten the time it takes to distribute new updates to everyone who uses WU. The chart below (figure 1) shows us how fast downloads and installations occur on Windows 7, from the time of release of an update. The speed of each download is primarily determined by the internet connectivity of the PC, something that WU has no control over, so it is interesting to see below that the majority of update activity occurs in the first three days after release. This three-day number is a key one that I will come back to when we talk about improvements in Windows 8.

In one week, 90% of users worldwide who need the update have successfully completed installation, including the restart, with the number of installations pretty much flattening out after that.

Bar chart showing 70% of downloads not yet installed on day 1, 35% on day 2, about 15% day 3, and tapering off from there. Completed downloads and installations both start at 5-10% on day 1, are at 60-70% on day 3, and level off at near 90% by day 7.

Figure 1 – Completed download and installation of updates from time of release of update

The balance of how broadly and how quickly we can update has proven beneficial to our users to the point where updating is mainly viewed as a background maintenance task (and justly so!) with nearly 90% of users choosing to update automatically on Windows 7. That’s 90% of the total user base telling us to automatically install updates without showing any notifications, or asking for confirmation.


Windows 7

Automatically install updates


Notify me before install


Notify me before download


Never check for updates


Figure 2 – Usage of various modes of automatic updating

Automatic updating and restarts on Windows 7

The next logical question to ask is what is the install experience for people who have chosen to automatically install updates? Below, data collected anonymously from WU gives an insight into the various modes of installation for those who have chosen to install automatically.

Pie chart shows: Interactive 31%; Install at scheduled time 30%; Install at shutdown 39%.

As you see above, there are 3 main categories of automatic update installations. Here is what we learned from analyzing each category.

Install-at-shutdown – The majority of automatic update users (39%) are updating when they shut down their systems. For these users, there is no automatic restart because the system can complete all steps of the installation during shutdown. This is the least disruptive experience for users, and so we do want to “hitch a ride” whenever we can on user-initiated shutdowns instead of inconveniencing users with a separate restart.

Install-at-scheduled-time – For the 30% who are scheduling automatic updates, their installations start at a scheduled time (the default is 3 AM in the time-zone where the PC is located) or the next time the user logs in (if we miss the 3 AM window). WU automatically completes any restarts necessary to finish the installation. To ensure that you get the chance to save any important files and data before the restart, we show you a 15-minute countdown timer before the restart.

A Windows 7 dialog saying: Restart your computer to finish installing important updates. Windows can't update important files and services while the system is using them. Make sure to save your files before restarting. Restarting in: 14 min, 37 sec.  Option: Remind me in: 10 minutes. Buttons: Restart now / Postpone
A fifteen-minute countdown timer warns you of the restart

Allowing restarts to occur without user interaction has helped us to rapidly update a major portion of the Windows ecosystem with critical updates. On average, within a week of releasing a critical update, 90% of PCs have installed the update (see Figure1). On the other hand, this behavior of automatic restarts has some unintended consequences for the user. Restarts can occur without notice, and might occur monthly or even more often if there is an out-of-band update. This unpredictability can potentially result in loss of user data. Most of our automatic installs and the subsequent restarts happen at 3 AM, when users are not around to save any important work. We have heard a lot of painful stories of users coming back to their PCs in the morning to find that a restart occurred, and that some important data was lost. In other cases, the user doesn’t lose data, but needs to restart a job that they were in the middle of (for example, a long copy job).

Interactive install – We were surprised to see 31% of users interactively installing updates; of these 31%, approximately 20% have selected to automatically install, but they manually intervene anyway. WU provides a pop-up notification telling you when updates are available if you have selected to automatically install. The notifications are clearly capturing people’s attention, so they click on the notification and interactively install the updates. But this is actually reinforcing an unintended behavior. If you signed up to get automatic updates, you really shouldn’t need to bother interactively installing an update every time one is available. Most installs should occur silently in the background, and WU should notify you only for critical actions (for example, a pending restart). This also matches feedback from customers, who tell us they find the constant notifications to be distracting. Their expectation when they choose automatic updating is that updating will occur automatically. This seems to be a case where making sure people are in control of their PC experience actually resulted in too much information, and ultimately the price of being in control was a feeling of a loss of control.

With these lessons learned, we set about defining a better automatic updating and restart experience for Windows 8.

Solving the challenge around updating and restarts

The question for us on the WU team is always “What is the best way to quickly update the PC while not being intrusive to the user?” Turns out, this is a hard question to answer, and there is no one simple answer.

The challenge we faced was to find the balance between updating with speed and giving notice to the user for upcoming restarts. Clearly, updating and securing the PC before vulnerabilities can be exploited is just as important as it ever was. However, we also want to deliver a better experience around handling restarts and avoiding data loss without compromising our goal of timely updating.

To this end, the guiding principles we used to design the experience were

  • The automatic updating experience is not intrusive to users but keeps them aware of critical actions
  • Minimize restarts and make them more predictable
  • Continue to keep the PC and the ecosystem up-to-date and secure in a timely manner

Windows Update and handling restarts on Windows 8

Based on these principles, we made the following improvements to the Windows 8 updating experience.

WU will consolidate all the restarts in a month, synchronizing with the monthly security release. This means that your PC will only restart when security updates are installed and require a restart. With this improvement, it does not matter when updates that require restarts are released in a month, since these restarts will wait till the security release. Since security updates are released in a single batch on the second Tuesday of every month, you are then getting essentially one restart a month. This simplification helps in three ways: it keeps the system secure in a timely manner, reduces restarts, and makes restarts more predictable.

There is one exception to the rule to wait for the monthly security release, and that is in the case of critical security update to fix a worm-like vulnerability (for example, a Blaster worm). In that case, WU will not wait, but will go ahead and download, install, and restart automatically. But this will happen only when the security threat is dire enough.

WU notifies you of any upcoming automatic restart. Let’s assume that WU has already detected, downloaded, and installed security updates, and now requires a restart. Windows Update will notify you of an upcoming automatic restart through a message on the login screen that will persist for 3 days. Because the majority of update activity occurs in the first three days of the release of each update [see Figure1], we wanted to give you 3 days to allow you to restart at your own convenience. You would restart by selecting “Update and shutdown” or “Update and restart” on the login screen, or by going to Windows Update in the Control Panel. You will no longer see any pop-up notifications or dialogs about pending restarts. Instead, the message appears in a more visible and appropriate place (the log-in screen). The use of the login screen has become ubiquitous even in home environments, as more and more machines become portable.

Here is a timeline view of that experience:

1.  A message about the upcoming restart is shown in the login screen for three days or until the PC is restarted (whichever is sooner). This means you now have three days to restart the PC at your convenience. All you need to do is see the login screen once in 3 days to see the message about the upcoming restart and by default the lock screen will appear after 15-minute idle timeout.

Message near power button reads: Windows Update, Your PC will restart in 2 days to finish installing updates.

2.  In addition to the restart notification on the login screen, the Power options on the lock screen will change to “Update and restart” immediately after the update occurs, and will include “Update and shutdown” on days two and three, to make the message even more apparent to you. This allows you to restart your PC at your own convenience.

Power options: Sleep, Shut down, Update and restart.

Power options: Sleep, Update and shut down, Update and restart.

3. If after three days, the restart still has not occurred, then WU will automatically restart your PC for you. In this case, the automatic restart will happen either at the end of the three-day grace period, or, to prevent data loss if WU detects that there are critical applications open at the end of the three-day grace period, it will wait to automatically restart the next time you login. I’ll address this behavior in more depth in the next section.

Your PC will restart in 13 minutes, 28 seconds. Restart / Close

4. After the restart has occurred, the message on the login screen will go away and the power options will revert to the original choices. We know people would like Windows to automatically log in after the restart, but we strongly advise against doing so, given the potential security issues with this configuration.

Sleep, Shut down, Restart

Delay the automatic restart if there is potential of losing user data. If the PC has hit the three-day deadline and still needs an automatic restart, WU will only automatically restart the machine if there is no chance of losing the user’s data. That means, if you are not at your PC (i.e. it is locked), if you have applications running in the background, or if there is potentially unsaved work, WU delays the automatic restart until the next time you come back to your machine and log in. At log-in, you will be asked to save your work, and you’ll see a warning that the machine will be restarted within 15 minutes.

Ensure minimal interruption to user activity. Having a restart notification or dialog pop up in the middle of an important presentation, a game or a movie is not a pleasant situation, to say the least. When attempting to automatically restart the PC, if you are in presentation mode, playing a game, or watching a movie full-screen, WU detects this state, and delays the automatic restart until the next available opportune moment or the next time you log back in to the PC.

The experience for business users. For PCs in an enterprise setting, if no policy has been set by the IT administrator, the updating experience is exactly the same as it is for home users. However, an IT administrator can set a policy to prevent auto-restart after automatic installs (just as in Windows 7). If they set this policy, there will be no three-day countdown and no automatic restart. Instead, users will see a message on the login screen indicating that the PC needs to be restarted, and the message persists until the restart occurs. This informs users that a restart is required while keeping them in control of when to restart.

Windows Update, Your PC needs to restart to finish installing security updates.

The experience for users in “notify mode.” I also want to address the experience for users who have chosen to be notified before downloading or installing updates (5.82% of the WU user base from Figure2). For a user in this “notify mode,” a message will be shown on the login screen. If you choose to be notified before downloading updates, you will see the login screen message saying “Important updates are ready to be installed” when updates are ready to be downloaded. If you choose to be notified before install, you will see the same login screen message after updates are downloaded, but before they are installed. In either case, you won’t see the message about a pending restart on the login screen since installation is not automatic.

Windows Update, Important updates are ready to be installed.

Cumulatively, these improvements help us achieve the balance we are striving for with Windows Update – keeping the PC (and PC ecosystem) up-to-date, without an intrusive experience.

What about updating 3rd party applications?

Lastly but not the least, I want to address the feedback from users who would like WU to update their 3rd-party applications. People clearly find the experience with multiple updaters on the system less than optimal (and we agree!) Each application updater gives you a different experience, you have to remember to go visit each updater to install updates, you never know when or how updaters will run and what they might do, and so on. People would like one updater for the entire system. On the other hand, users have also told us that they trust the quality of updates distributed by WU and hence are comfortable with choosing to automatically update their systems. We would not want to do anything that might reduce trust in the system by encouraging people to take on this management task manually and exposing their PCs to potential vulnerabilities for even short times.

Through WU and the “Microsoft Update” option (opt-in) we also offer updates for Microsoft products and for 3rd-party device drivers, with a common set of setup tools for each. All of these updates are carefully screened, and must adhere to the Windows conventions for updates regarding rollback and recovery, and overall system impact. As an example, drivers we publish through Windows Update go through tests run by the Windows Logo Program for Hardware, which after validating the updates, signs them for authentication. And, we are continuously working to improve the validation system, to deliver better and higher quality drivers. The wide variety of delivery mechanisms, installation tools, and overall approaches to updates across the full breadth of applications makes it impossible to push all updates through this mechanism.  As frustrating as this might be, it is also an important part of the ecosystem that we cannot just revisit for the installed base of software.  

However, as we discussed at the //build/ conference, the new Windows Store will provide a one-stop shop for (free and paid-for) Metro style apps, with an integrated update service to help ensure apps are maintained in a consistent manner. Because of the vetting process for these apps and the commitment from developers to deliver value to customers, we’re able to bring you this improvement as well.  We’ll have more on this topic in future posts as soon as the Store becomes available to you for public testing.

Looking forward to your feedback.


Comments (217)

  1. Daniel says:

    Yes, finally the problems will be solved with WU!!!

  2. AMS says:

    Great post Farzana, thanks. Btw, I am the first to comment. :-)

  3. tolu says:

    i have to say, i love the work you guys are doing with w8 and would love you to put more innovation into it to silence skeptics and people who just love to hate.

    i love the humility microsoft has grown to have.

    Keep up the good work guys.

  4. Dean Murphy says:

    I don't think this way of implementation is any better then the current system. It still takes granular control away where I need it most

  5. Sam Sabri says:

    Great work Win8 Team! I look forward to these blog posts every week. Would love more Metro app guidelines.

  6. sgtaylor5 says:

    I manually update even though I have Automatically Install Updates turned on. Here's why: When I see the WU shield overlay on my ShutDown button, I don't know what is going to be updated, and I want to see what is being updated. Often, there is an unchecked Optional Update I want to install in addition to the Important Updates that are already checked for install.

    It would be very nice for Flash, Chrome, etc to be updated by WU, and not by their own installers.


    running Win 7 Professional sp1, 64 bit since the beta!

  7. Daniel says:

    @AMS I don't think you were the first to comment!

  8. Sekhar Padikkal says:

    Now i would say that Windows Update is now perfect to pave the way for Windows to rule the  "the always on always connected" tablet space !! Kudos to steve , steven & team…

  9. Earl says:

    But why? Why do you have to restart SO MUCH?

    Unix, Linux and Mac OS (BSD ripoff that it is) can all do most major updates without a restart at all. Yet, Windows here, even with its 700 million incarnations, cannot do the same.

    Look, I love Windows 7 and updates ARE noticeably less intrusive than in previous versions of Windows, but the fact remains that you have to restart not only for updates, but for new drivers being installed and sometimes even new software for things such as editing a video.

    More and more I question whether or not I will stick with Windows once 7 outlives its usefulness and I also question my loyalty when your prices are absurd compared to so many other offerings out there right now.

    Sure, the WinDev team have achieved a lot in the way of advancements and newer approaches to complex issues on the PC, but you have done very little in the way of making it as convenient and unobtrusive as it can and SHOULD be.

    Mind you, I've been using Windows since WFW 3.11 and am truly a fan of Microsoft's products… but I find myself (right this moment notsomuch) booting into my Linux distro more and more often lately when I need to do critical things and have no desire for updates forcing me to log off, restart and log back in.

    Overall, you folks have done a tremendous job… but when you take the minor gripes I have and couple them with the ridiculous prices you charge for non-OEM, legit copies of Windows, I am having a harder and harder time convincing myself to stick with your products.

  10. Sven says:

    Good improvments!

    Where is the Video, so long time ago that you have posted a Video :)

  11. domenicoav says:

    Great!!! Thank You !

  12. I like the improvements of Windows Update, but i just want to add sth.

    When look at the 2. & 3. picture, the one of the Lockscreen you see in the bottom right corner the warning of WU and the button for the Shutdown. So when you select the button, the small window will overlap that warning. For me thats looks not good, better the warning is in the bottom center or you find another postion for the button.

    thats just my view, best regards

  13. So the author of the previous blog thinks we should leave our PC's in the "factory provided" state without changing anything (to guarantee battery life), and the author of this blog thinks we should automatically install all updates whenever Windows wants.

    Joined up thinking!

  14. George says:

    @Earl I have experienced a few times when Snow Leopard and Ubuntu 11.04 prompted me to restart the machine in order to apply or after applying updates.

  15. Tom Smythe says:

    You should replace the phrase "pc" with "device" as in, "your device will restart in xx minutes".  Whether MS believes in the "post-pc" era or not, we are talking about devices now.

  16. fail says:

    However, as we discussed at the //build/ conference, the new Windows Store will provide a one-stop shop for (free and paid-for) Metro style apps, with an integrated update service to help ensure apps are maintained in a consistent manner.


    again MSFT fails. We need an update for traditional applications, too. No one wants this ugly metro crap on the desktop.

  17. Gabe says:

    It would be really nice to finally see some use of kernel hot patching to eliminate the need for many restarts

  18. Great job with the improvements to the restart procedure. This will surely annoy users far less and prevent data loss.

    But there are still two big issues with Windows Update: 1.Speed of installing updates is slower by several orders of magnitude compared to Windows XP, and 2. Updates gobble up disk space increasing the footprint of the OS over time.

    Is there anything being done to improve the massively slow speed with which updates install in Windows 7 and Windows Vista? XP's old Hotfix Installer was so fast! IT admins could download updates and then script them supplying '/quiet /passive /norestart' patches to chain updates and those updates would install extremely fast. In comparison, the servicing stack which underwent a total redesign for Windows Vista is abysmally slow, a single update takes several minutes to install. **If you have several updates to install after the most recent service pack is installed, that translates into several hours or sometimes even an entire day**. Plus, the '/passive' switch which installed updates unattended on XP but while showing a progress bar is no longer supported, there are only the /quiet and /norestart options.

    The time it is taking to actually install these updates compared to Windows XP is far too slow. When you start installing an MSU update, it spends a lot of time determining whether the update applies to your system. Then, the update itself takes much longer to install compared to Windows XP's Update.exe (hours instead of minutes if you are installing dozens and dozens of updates through a script). Finally, that post-installation process ("Configuring updates… Do not turn off your computer") takes several minutes before shut down followed by a second post-installation process (configuration) upon restart before logon that also takes also several minutes and thrashes the disk. This design and massive reduction in speed of update installation after we "upgraded" from Windows XP is completely unacceptable and needs to change in a future version of Windows to a much faster method.

    The second issue is increasing disk space being required for Windows just to keep the OS current and up-to-date. Windows keeps older versions of the 'components' in the CBS store and gives no option to delete the ones which are superceded by newer versions making the WinSxS folder grow over time. **Only when a service pack is installed, the older superseded components are deleted.** However, any updates installed after the most recent service pack keep increasing the disk footprint of the OS until one day your Windows partition if it's a little bit smaller like say 30 GB, gets full and you start getting low disk space notifications.

    With Windows Vista, Microsoft has also major made improvements to servicing like offline servicing, more reliable servicing, and even smaller size of updates due to further improved delta compression. But Microsoft won't admit it and the fact remains: MSU updates are slow as hell and take too much time to install and as Windows 8/7/Vista get older and Microsoft stops producing service packs, a clean install is going to take longer and longer to bring it up-to-date with all patches installed.

    These two issues entirely spoil the Windows Update experience for me.

  19. Nicky Nick McNick says:

    There's a typo in a screen: "Your PC will need to restart before ***intalling*** security updates."

  20. @Earl, it seems to me that just about every time there are updates to be installed in Linux (Ubuntu) I have to reboot for the update to take effect, even if I'm not prompted to restart. At least with Windows I'm told that the update will only take effect after a reboot.

    As for the need for reboots, I'm still not convinced that you (Microsoft) understand the best way to handle this issue. Sometimes an application has a file in use that needs to be updated, but after we close the application the file can be replaced. At that point the update mechanism should detect that the file can be replaced, replace it, and no longer require a reboot.

    If it is a service, there are times when the service isn't working on anything and can be restarted, or at 3 am it can be restarted instead of the entire system.

    If it is a driver, then wait for the device to go to sleep before forcing a restart of the driver. If it is a network driver, you can detect no activity. A video card sleeps, etc.

    The only time that a reboot should be absolutely required is if the update applied to the Windows kernel. Then, I can understand, otherwise, services and applications can be restarted. If it doesn't happen in the 3 days by the user, then just restart the application or service on day 3 at the pre-defined time. I should even be able to tell, somehow, what application or service I need to restart (as a user) to prevent an entire reboot.

  21. Morten says:

    Tell me: What good is a 15min automatic countdown, if the default autoupdate time is 3am in the morning where I'm at sleep?

    I SOOOOO much hate this default behavior. It takes a few days after a fresh install before I realize that this setting is still on, and I just lost whatever it was I had going on when I went to bed.

  22. LeoStorm85 says:

    No matter, if 3rd party updates are less secure. You should provide a way for a centralized update process. For example you should disable these updates by default providing some notification about them. This will improve user experience a lot; also 3rd party software need sometimes external software which is executed at some point (or even worse begin at startup) for updating; this is no sense to me.

  23. Yuri Trukhin says:

    I want to see Windows Updater for non-metrostyle apps for Windows Desktop (.NET, Java etc)

  24. PeePay says:

    How does the 15-minute countdown behave when I really can't restart?

    For example, I am rendering a huge video project, it has been running for 6 hours and there are 50 minutes left. And now WU says that the PC will be restarted in 15 minutes. From the screenshot I can see there are just Restart and Close buttons. Will the Close button act as Postpone? Or will it really restart and I can start over the video rendering?

  25. Yuri Trukhin says:

    Please, don`t restart automatically! I want to see notification by default, but I don`t want restart MY computer automatically!

  26. @Earl What Linux distro are you using? I use Fedora and Debian quite frequently and they have just as many restarts as Windows, if not more due to the update floods; can be good and bad. As far as Mac, I've had my MBP for a while and Apple has no consistent security updates like Microsoft (Patch Tues). When Apple decides to push a hardware update, you'll have a restart. When you get a system update. You'll more than likely have a restart. If it's updating an Apple suite of software (iTunes, Quicktime, iWorks, etc.) you're not likely to get a required reboot.

    When you make a claim that Linux or Mac's 'almost' never need a reboot – that is just nonsense.

  27. Great job!

    But something seems rather odd to me: as much as Windows Update  focuses on undisruptiveness, the Metro UI adds to the OS disruptiveness (2 main cases: full screen start page and full screen search). To quote Jason Kennedy at ExtremeTech: "To me an operating system should be invisible; something that gets out of your way so you can do what you're supposed to be doing." Please, make launching and searching experiences undisruptive (no full screen).

  28. dropqube says:

    Sorry Earl, apparently you have never used a Mac. Whenever there's a Safari update it wants a restart most of the times. Also most bigger system updates ask for a restart on OS X. It's a huge misbelief that people have that OS X never needs restarting.

    I have to work on an iMac every day at our office, so I experience that update procedures often enough.

  29. Paul says:

    Excellent idea to integrate the restart feature with the login screen. I rarely shut down or restart, but I see the login screen every day and that provides plenty of notification.

    I wish you could develop a process to integrate other vendors' updaters. My wish list would include a requirement that additional software, such as browser toolbars, never be included. I understand it would be difficult, but it would be welcome.

  30. Klimax says:

    @fail 14 Nov 2011 10:50 AM:

    fail failed… from post:

    "The wide variety of delivery mechanisms, installation tools, and overall approaches to updates across the full breadth of applications makes it impossible to push all updates through this mechanism.  As frustrating as this might be, it is also an important part of the ecosystem that we cannot just revisit for the installed base of software."

  31. SC says:

    One scenario that I've always fought with is the way Windows forces you to install updates at shutdown sometimes.

    Quite often I'll have my PC on in the morning, and I'll want to quickly shutdown so I can toss my laptop in my bag and head for the bus. I don't want to sleep since the machine will be unattended for a long period of time, but if I shut down my machine is stuck for 20 minutes running updates. The high disk activity means I'm now "anchored" at home until my laptop is fully patched. Incredibly frustrating.

  32. J says:

    I have always wondered why a log (all users) off instead of a restart would get the same thing done (in most cases).  Wouldn't that normally kill any jobs interfering with the update?  In my case it would save significant time (it takes a little extra time to shut down completely and more than a little to restart and load windows).

  33. Alex Verboon says:

    First blog not mentioning the Metro UI :-) Great stuff.

  34. Stefan says:

    Putting this information on the login screen is not very useful. I don't see the login screen for weeks at a time, because my machine is never turned off, just goes to sleep or hibernates.  So I would have no way of knowing that an update is due.

    Secondly, I want updates installed automatically but I do not want it to be restarted automatically – I want to restart when I want to do so, because most of the patches are not of relevance to me – .  If there is something that is likely to be important, I will restart, but otherwise I will just restart whenever I want to.


  35. Left Coaster says:

    Are any changes coming for 3rd party updates?  I enjoy the Windows 7 improvements that give the user more control over 3rd party updates (such as Adobe or Java)… is this an area of continued focus for 8?

  36. Great to see updates becoming less intrusive,

    Quick question about mobile devices running on 3G.

    What will be the default policy about updates being done through 3G connections on devices.

    It would be a little bad to go check your emails whilst out and about, and have windows automatically download 150mb of updates in the background over your 200mb a month 3G contract.

    Still great to see these updates :)

  37. Brian Butterworth says:

    "Before the Internet, updates such as service packs and "patches" were impossibly hard to come by. You ordered upgrade "media" or maybe bought a magazine with a CD in it. "

    Before the Internet?  The Internet was around long before Windows and even MSDOS…

  38. Thank you for the post Farzana and the insight into the Update Process.  It looks like it will run even more smoothly for all of us.  

  39. oskingen says:

    Keep up the good work!

    Like @xpclient, I do have now some concerns about the space used for the WinSxS. It wasn't an issue before but now we are deploying computers with small SSD (40Go, 60Go) and I'm wondering if you have any plans about that (like some cleanup after successful installation…)

    I guess for Windows 9 the question will be, how to eliminate some reboots? :)

  40. SC: Hibernate is a tidy solution to that one (as, IIRC is holding down SHIFT when clicking Shutdown)

    It's great to see these changes, I think I fall into the category who're quite happy with automatic updates but have a tendency to do them manually at times simply because the pop-up comes up and screams for attention it probably didn't need.  Anything that makes the process less intrusive in the long run has got to be a good thing.

  41. @Brian Butterworth

    I think that is meant to say "Before the Web," rather than "Before the Internet." The Web, as we know it, was invented in 1991, six years after the first release of Windows.

    @Farzana Rahman

    I applaud your effforts to reduce the number of restarts caused by updating. However, the menu that appears when there is only one day before an update install needs a third option – "Shut down without installing updates" for those times when someone wants to restart the PC quickly and updates need to be installed.

  42. Adam Kalisz says:

    I think, you guys have no idea what the Metro UI will be like and what it actually is.

    Firstly, Metro UI is not just the StartScreen, it is also the reincarnation of Aero. It's just the whole design!!!

    Secondly, some of you haven't read every blog post as I have, so please read it, learn the common vocabulary and then return with constructive comments (like @Bastian92 underneath this post). Keep it short and simple!

    Thirdly, I believe most of the features will be developed, get more functionality, maybe design changes etc.

    Last word to the community: It would be better, if all those post were written with the points mentioned in mind. Me and the Microsoft W8 team would be pleased to come here to get ideas and seriously discuss issues, improvements, suggestions for features/ improvements… Comments like: "First blog not mentioning the Metro UI :-) Great stuff." @Alex Verboon are not helping at all, keep those posted on your wall on Facebook or somewhere else but don't post them here, it's spam!

    Thank you guys,


  43. @MartinLenord: The default WU policy for 3G network usage is to NOT use 3G for WU downloads.

  44. Thinker says:

    If a user hasn't been to their computer in 3 days and there are critical documents open that risk losing user data, perhaps Microsoft can then disable the network adapters to isolate that PC from the internet until the user can install the updates.  

    In the event that the critical data resides in the cloud or on a network share, the locally cached file can be saved as a "recovered" document by the host application.

    Good idea?

  45. This is off topic. Here are some other suggestions concerning the Start page and the Search page.

    I understand that the Metro style serves as a unifying GUI for all Microsoft products. Each time, the Metro UI has been adapted to fit the particular purposes of a particular product (cf. WP vs. Xbox). Metro live tiles could be a real asset to Windows 8 if it were well adapted to the kind of multitasking we expect to be possible on a pc (the expectations are not the same for a tablet). Essentially, this means: no full screen, but instead an unintrusive Metro Start (as well as an unintrusive Metro Search). Please consider this mock-up inspired by the Windows Phone. This is still Metro, but, I think, so much more efficient.

    I'm trying to be constructive. I just want Windows 8 to be the best OS ever. Keep doing your excellent work.

  46. Sorry – I wanted to create an MSDN badge this time before I posted.  Here is my post again previously as "Thinker" above.


    If a user hasn't been to their computer in 3 days and there are critical documents open that risk losing user data, perhaps Microsoft can then disable the network adapters to isolate that PC from the internet until the user can install the updates.  

    In the event that the critical data resides in the cloud or on a network share, the locally cached file can be saved as a "recovered" document by the host application.

    Good idea?


  47. pmbAustin says:

    From @SC:  "Quite often I'll have my PC on in the morning, and I'll want to quickly shutdown so I can toss my laptop in my bag and head for the bus. I don't want to sleep since the machine will be unattended for a long period of time, but if I shut down my machine is stuck for 20 minutes running updates. The high disk activity means I'm now "anchored" at home until my laptop is fully patched. Incredibly frustrating."



    You need to ALWAYS allow the option of just shutting down cleanly and quickly.  That must ALWAYS been an option.

  48. HandNF says:

    I'm glad that WU is getting fixed. Automatic updates bother me when I check in the morning to see a blank desktop.

    I usually don't enjoy updating because of the time it takes, but W8 is always fast at booting, making it even more impressive.

  49. @Steven Sinofsky

    Do you plan to eventually do a post about the future of the Metro UX on desktops, including the UI, the app platform, etc.? The question "Will we be allowed to turn this off without extra tools or the Registry Editor, yes or no?" still has no definite answer. Or is the team still undecided on what to do? Many "this is the UI for Windows" statements about Metro were made before the complaints started rolling in.

  50. Windows 8 just reduces the number of restarts to once a month, but is it not possible to reduce the number of updates that require restarts even more? Like shutting down and restarting some system services that are requiring the restart if they are not in use.

    Is it also possible to download the updates automatically as they are available, in a low priority / low bandwidth process? This would reduce the installation time by that much.

    I would also not mind if the restore points snapshots were taken and updates were installed transparently while I am using the computer, not like Windows 7 Update, which will download and create restore points at the time it installs the updates. At least for the updates that are known to be be non-intrusive and don't require a restart, so no CPU-intensive installers or video/mouse/keyboard drivers.

    For computers that run 24/7, the login screen and the lock screen are never seen.

    You should detect if the computer is set up to never go to sleep and display the restart message in the Notification area in that case, or some other visible area. Since Windows 8 restarts only once a month, a notification pop-up wouldn't be intrusive.

    By the way, the current message in the login screen is barely visible, relegated to the bottom right of the screen in a small font. It should be near the area viewed by the user, i.e. near the password edit box, not out of view, and in a bigger font.

    And please, never use the anglicism and acronym "PC" but the globalized term "computer."

    You said that Windows 8 will wait for a manual confirmation at the end of 3 days if applications are in use.

    Does that mean that apps like Notepad will now block the restart?

    Now that browsers are used for a lot of things, like commenting in this blog, does it mean that Internet Explorer will memorize the browser's opened edit forms and all the text typed between restarts? That's one of the main reasons why I switched to Firefox, because IE would not restore my web forms after a restart of IE or of the computer.

    This leads me to the restart itself. If the Windows Update experience is supposed to be transparent, there must be a way to restart the computer and restore the previous session automatically exactly as it was, in a locked state to prevent all security risks. This would also allow devs to build whole new features on top, like resuming a backup or a file transfer or copy that you mentioned. Video apps could interrupt and resume encoding or rendering, presentations or media players could resume displaying ads, etc.

    I would like very much to be able to access my home computer and current session from Remote Desktop at any time, even after a Windows update or power outage restart.

    Basically, I want the ability to cold start (to reset the memory) and to launch all previous apps to the same state as they were before.

    Too late for Windows 8, but it would be great and a real innovation for Windows 9.

    To take the example of Notepad, the ability to store all the window information of each Notepad session, which document or unsaved text is displayed, even to the position of the cursor in the document. Even without any code modification to Notepad, Windows itself could memorize most of that information in real time, and restore all apps that were opened after a crash, instead of rebooting from scratch.

    I agree with the comments on the winsxs folder: It's not possible to use SSDs as system drives as you need at least a 128GB very expensive SSD because of the growing size of the OS, and large size system drives are not fit for system image backups, that are as big as the system drive.

    Could it be possible to archive all the replicate and history of winsxs files as part of the normal Backup routine to an external drive, to keep a slim system drive and still be able to restore a specific restore point at will. Or at least allow the winsxs folder to be relocated to another drive.

    Right now this folder takes 13+GB on my computer, and it can easily grow to twice that size with language packs and other accumulating updates. It's probably too late for a whole redesign of winsxs in Windows 8 timeframe, but a few minimal changes about disk space efficiency would still be welcome.

    Great idea to handle third party apps in Windows 8 Update, but don't restrict it to Metro apps.

    Make it separate from the Microsoft apps so that users can separate the Microsoft Update experience from the third-party update experience if something goes wrong, since you are (rightly) concerned with that, but every app editor should be able to plug in the updates for their apps in Windows Update.

  51. WhatProgress says:

    I vote to leave the WU as they are in Win7 and add the 'Just shutdown now' option.

    All of these new ways for updates to be installed are simply going sideways – not forwards.

  52. Farzana Rahman says:



    In your case, the PC will go ahead and restart at the 15 minute countdown because in this case, WU has already given notification for 3 days. In your case, you have a choice of restarting anytime during the 3 day time period when it is most convenient to you and this will mitigate your scenario of restarting in the middle of a large video is being rendered. Also since the notification is in the visible login screen, the message will be a reminder for you every time you login.  


  53. @Chimel: The restart scenario you describe is possible today (and has been since Vista) assuming every application you use it Restart Manager compatible.

  54. I would like to  install Windows Developer Preview but my Graphics Driver isn't supported, The XPDM Driver support  Is removed  Wish I could Develop metro apps  :(

  55. Kool says:

    I LOVE the blue start screen theme.

  56. Stefan says:

    When it comes to Windows Update / Microsoft Update there must be improvements. I have installed many Vista computers lately and every time to get it up to date there are 8 updates that fail every time if i try to update through Windows Update / Microsoft Update. Annoying when i even have to search via internet or Microsoft Download Center for the downloads of these updates. Why couln't the update in Windows download the failed updates to a folder automatically, and then open it so the user could install them manually. And why takes it several minutes for the updates being installed ? It says searching for updates… What updates ?

  57. Stefan says:

    I do also want to get rid of the nag about i have to restart within XX minutes. Stupid !

    Updatespeed is too slow as well. XP takes a few minutes even if You have 112 updates when newly installed, while Vista and 7 takes far longer………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

  58. Stefan says:

    One more thing: smaller servicepacks !

    Couldn't servicepacks be split in to several parts instead of one large that can take a very long time to install – if You count all steps there are in an large update. It takes far too long time.

  59. oskingen says:

    @stefan, if i was in charge I would have just eliminate service packs and use instead regular windows updates

  60. gian says:

    I am trying to log-in in to my facebook account but it don't stops loading?

  61. Wirya Nata says:

    Mengapa pada saat saya melakukan update pergerakan PC saya menjadi lambat?

  62. @SC

    You bring up a good point about the frequency and long times to complete installations during shutdown. I agree this can be frustrating especially when you are in hurry. On win8, we set out to strike a balance between always allowing user to have a choice and securing the system in a timely manner. We have done a few things here that cumulatively will improve the experience of updating during shutdown. 1) WU will install all updates before the 3 day pending restart message is shown and hence only the system re-initialization and pending file renames for the updates will be left to be completed during shutdown. This will shorten the time taken to “update and shutdown” compared to Win7/Vista where WU also does the installation during shutdown. 2) Since we are consolidating the restarts with the security updates, you should see the “Update and Shutdown” only when there is a pending restart (day 2 and day3 after a pending restart message is shown in login screen) ie 2 days in a month. In addition, on day 1 after the restart message is shown in login screen, you still have a choice to do just a “shutdown”. The intent here being that you can take the proactive action to restart the machine at your convenience.    


  63. @Windows 8 Team,

    -I really agree with others regarding concern about the unmanageable, humongous WinSxS directory.

    -In Windows XP, we were able to manually remove the $NTUninstallKB*$ folders after we determined the latest updates are stable and uninstallation is no longer necessary. Even more, some patches support "/n" or "/nobackup" option which speed up the installation process and save more disk space. (BTW, I always disable System Restore during a batch of updates, too).

    -What we have in Vista and 7 is really a step backward – slower and more bloated (a concern for SSD size AND write counts). IMHO, I don't think that many users care about this 'componentized' model (instead of 'modular' in XP and 2000) aside from some OEMs and IT admins at a very large multi-national corporations.who need to 'sysprep' a number of Windows images regularly.

    -I hope Microsoft will finally provide a tool for removing those really redundant redundancies (pun?) and let power users manage their machines more efficiently. You may even release it as unsupported PowerToy or as a Sysinternals' tool; it doesn't really matter.

    -And please, please, please backport that tool for Vista and 7 too when it's available (again, 'unsupported' is okay).



    P/S: If you worry some (novice) users will break their machines using the tool, you may make it to require user typing (e.g.) "I agree that I'm full responsible….bla…bla" instead of just clicking "Yes" or "OK" button, or post a 'wall of text' (EULA-like) during the tool launch and force user to find keywords to activate the tool. This will surely hinders many 'unfitted'/'ineligible' users. :)

  64. Well, I agree with everyone on the WinSXS folder, that thing MUST go! Either it can be turned off so it doesn't store a million copies, or a way must be found so it's deleted by advanced users, but it has got to go.

    Also, like many before me said, although the number of restarts is confined to once a month, it still isn't good enough. There's got to be a way to restart services that depend on in-use memory that have been updated. Come on, guys, Linux had this for ages! Only deep kernel-related updates require a reboot (this is completely understandable), and so it SHOULD be on Windows as well.

    Hopefully you guys will realize that these pending issues are extremely important for a large group of users (especially admins, who have to use and cope with your products every day), so they need to be addressed in a satisfactory manner.

  65. Quppa says:

    As a 'notify me before download' user, the only change I'd like to see in Windows 8 is the addition of a 'Don't remind me' option to the 'Restart your computer to finish installing important updates' dialog. Having it pop up every 4 hours (currently the maximum interval) is annoying – I'll restart my computer when I'm ready.

  66. Chris McGrath says:

    I don't trust Automatic Update for drivers at all. Every time I use it to upgrade my graphics driver it completely screws up and I have to use System restore to get the system back to a usable state.

  67. danwdoo says:

    @ Farzana Rahman [MSFT]

    Great to hear about those changes! Those should help things immensely.

  68. @Quppa

    From blog.. “If you choose to be notified before downloading updates, you will see the login screen message saying “Important updates are ready to be installed” when updates are ready to be downloaded. If you choose to be notified before install, you will see the same login screen message after updates are downloaded, but before they are installed. In either case, you won’t see the message about a pending restart on the login screen since installation is not automatic.”

    There will be no dialog with the 15 minute countdown timer shown to you since you are not in “automatic updating” mode. Instead, you just have the reminder on the login screen that will remain until you complete the installation when you are ready.


  69. And before anyone brushes off the WinSxS issue saying it's mostly hard links and that Explorer doesn't report the correct size and the size is lesser than it actually reports, *we know that*. Although most files in WinSxS are hard links and Explorer doesn't report the size correctly, there are other tools like cttruesize which do report the correct size without counting the hard links twice. The fact remains that the Component Based Servicing design takes more disk space and you don't give us any option to delete older versions of components superseded by newer updates.

    Also to benchmark the speed of installing updates fair and square, I recommend Microsoft to download all the monthly security updates for any given month for Windows XP and Windows 7 and apply them on both systems through an unattended script (/quiet /norestart on both XP and W7 updates) and measure the installation time. Windows 7 MSU updates take far too long to install. Performance of this needs to improve dramatically. Plus, whatever configuration is done at logon and logoff should ideally be done in the background using Windows low priority I/O APIs. Under no circumstances ideally should Windows delay logons and logoffs.

  70. Aethec says:

    @xpclient: XP, fast at installing updates? Please…

    Last time I had to install updates on a XP machine, it took literally one hour to install 16 updates. And that was using the "Reboot and install updates", there were no other programs running.

  71. Ben says:

    When it is in the moment not possible to remove the restart at updates, than you have to fix it. And not just reduce it. It is maybe difficult but it must be possible

  72. Please Microsoft! Add 3rd party software support to Windows Update. It would be so amazing to have one unified place to update everything! :)

  73. @Aethec,

    -Can you disclose the specifications of that XP machine? CPU? RAM? HDD? Did you make sure the HDD has ample space and DMA was properly enabled? How old is the XP install (since the format/clean install)? Are you sure no virus scanner is running? And, most importantly, did you check the internet speed at that time (download throughput)?

    -In my own experiences dealing with XP systems, they are surely faster at updating than Vista/7 on same-specced machines.



  74. venomz3 says:

    Wu still not getting what I was hoping and I remember that I once send feedback from it. Wu should tell witch updates need restart not witch MAY require restart.  And option to automatically update those  on background  witch do not need restart. So I`m user that manually updates and I only wanna see list of updates that require restart with one exception optional updates.

  75. Dim says:

    "We were surprised to see 31% of users interactively installing updates"

    My personnal reason for using that option is simple. I want to be able to shutdown my PC without waiting for installs to finished.

  76. Raphael says:

    Three thoughts of mine about windows update:

    - A new installed machine needs several reboots and every time there are new updates available. Isn't there a solution for that?

    - The installation speed of updates is really slow

    - Windows updates are taking to much space, no problem on desktop PCs but on laptops with expensive SSDs

  77. @Aethec, consumers/end users typically install updates through Windows Update whereas IT pros/admins typically install updates by downloading them permanently from the Download Center, keeping them offline on their local machines and deploying them through scripts or tools like Windows Server Update Services. When you say, it took you time to install updates on an XP machine, you may also be counting the time it takes to download updates and the sheer *number* of updates, both of which are obviously greater for Windows XP because it's last service pack shipped a while back and the size of XP updates is larger because it has to package the Hotfix Installer (update.exe) in every update. In comparison, Windows Vista/7 updates are smaller because the package manager that installs the MSU updates now ships with the OS. However, the installation time of an MSU update is several times slower than a hotfix installer-type update. I am referring only to this installation time only, not the total time it takes to download and install the total number of updates. As a result, for those who keep the updates downloaded on their computer, it takes far longer (several hours) to install updates on Windows NT 6.x platforms than on Windows XP.

    Take the case of Windows Vista SP2. Even if Windows Vista SP2 is installed from an integrated media with SP2 already present, the post SP2 updates take almost an entire day to install. The case is similar with Windows 7 SP1. Also, the inability to slipstream service packs means only those who have access to certain Microsoft subscriptions like MSDN or Technet have access to integrated media. For the rest of them, you have to install the service pack too.

  78. On topic: this is great stuff, certainly will minimize the annoyance of WU for a lot of users. Once a month and 3 days grace period? Count me in.

    Off topic: I like how everyone complained about the green theme in Metro we've mostly seen so far. This topic shows deep blue one, yet there's only one mention in the comments.

    As for me, I would like to have an ability to use animated backgrounds in Metro, which would be turned off when you are working on a battery to conserve the energy, but that's just wishful thinking.

  79. I am Windows says:

    Windows 7 download all updates and then installs them.

    Windows 8 should continue to download updates and starts to install the ones who have already downloaded.

    This would be a real savings of time and resources.

    The installation should be as fast as possible.

    I hope you hear my suggestion.

  80. I am Windows says:

    An example Windows Update downloads updates at night and while the download the computer is idle. My idea is that if while you download these updates are installed, then the two tasks are performed simultaneously save time, battery charge, power consumption and the system can return to idle. This is a great improvement in user experience. I would be happy to know your opinion on my idea.

  81. Hi!

    I have HP DV7 6130 and ATI Radeon HD 6770M. I cannot change brightness when I restart my PC. I have to disable and enable display drivers in Device Manager. Help me, please :)


  82. Quppa says:

    @Farzana Rahman [MSFT]: Thanks for clarifying that – that's a good improvement from Windows 7.

  83. etacarinae says:

    @Steven Sinofsky Considering Metro is being shoved down our throats (as another commenter quipped), I'm not going to bother pleading for a re-think. Steven, you know Metro is a benefit only to touch-first devices. Aero (far from being legacy) is unequivocally conducive to keyboard+mouse desktop-environments (again none of the aforementioned should be considered legacy).  But I digress, this is a frivolous endeavour to convince you otherwise, Steven.

    With that said, @Steven Sinofsky, I would be interested to see what you've done to improve on the Control Panel, as its implementation in Vista and Windows7 was inherently flawed, counter-intuitive and a waste of screen-space (when viewed as small/large icons).

  84. Andrew says:

    I lost data due to Win7 deciding to restart my box in 15 minutes

    thats pretty bad – I don't think its acceptable to have that as a possible behaviour

  85. Aaron.Parker says:

    Is Microsoft making more effort to educate developers on the Windows Restart Manager? I find too few applications make use of this feature.

    Anecdotally of course, but I find that developers have take advantage of the comparable feature in OS X Lion far quicker than Windows developers have with Windows Restart Manager.

  86. Stepan says:

    Great work!

    "the price of being in control was a feeling of a loss of control"

    This sounds as if the changes are about giving the people the feeling of control and thus less actual control. Interesting :)

  87. Mimi says:

    These changes make a lot of sense – one question though: what about those of us who don't use the login screen? I don't have a password on my home PC or laptop (nor do I plan to use one). How will windows notify me of updates/restarts?

  88. Robin Jones says:

    I still truly think that Windows needs an intergrated and approved third party application update manager, even if it wasn't through WU, although since you can replace WU with MU, why could you not add MU+ with user control over whether third party partners are supported. Even to the point of which partners updates you wish to receive, even if to start with it only partnered with the top 100 applications used on windows.

    Although I can see a large future for metro apps, it is not going to tempt LOB application vendors, "proper" games developers, Development tool providers, third party browsers…. the list goes on, to use the metro framework because the application doesn't fit the paradigm well, probably due to it's complexities and/or user input styles.

    Also from personal experience, Although I have updates set to install automatically, I generally do it interactively as I want to see what has been fixed, and check what optional updates are available. This post fails to mention the process for optional updates?!

  89. Michael says:

    You should do the same than Apple has done with a Feedback page that is easy to use and that does not require any log in process. See the Apple feedback page at and provide the same for each of the Microsoft applications and products.

    For instance, in Windows 7 64-bit, there is the Show desktop button on the taskbar at the bottom right. I would like it to do what it does but to also be able to view the desktop without viewing the gadgets nor the icons that are on the desktop. It cannot do such a simple action at the moment, as the desktop icons and the gadgets are still showing on the desktop when I use this Show desktop button.

    Also when I right-click the desktop, when I want to have available a Previous desktop background option along with the Next desktop background available.

  90. You are too focused on a user sitting at a desktop. We have 1200+ of servers that we are required to patch monthly. That has to happen during a scheduled maintenance window and in many cases we need to stop services like SQL and Oracle prior to a reboot. Group policy does not offer enough flexibility to autopatch. We have to use a home grown script. Why is there no "wuauclt /installnow" for WSUS?

    My disks are polluted with $NtUninstallKBnnnnnn$ folders from years of patching and every server has hundreds of copies of update.exe and spuninst.exe in the $hf_mig$ folder. If you really want feedback, come sit in my cubicle and help me on patch Sunday.

  91. Aaron Kempf says:

    the one thing you guys don't realize.. is that you would save IT a BUNCH of time, if you could just schedule WIndows Update to run ONCE PER HOUR instead of once per day.  Presto- you want a new box set up with 152 different patches? Change it to once an hour and all of  a sudden, your machine will be up to date THAT DAY instead of 2 days later.

  92. Jonathan Dickinson says:

    *Cheers* at "experience for business users". I have no idea how many times I have stepped out for a smoke only to return and find all my work GONE – the Windows 7 shutdown during an update is extremely aggressive (far more aggressive than the user-initiated one), which was actually just a really annoying anti-feature.

  93. >a one-stop shop for (free and paid-for) METRO style apps

    Really? For metro style apps?

    What about desktop apps?

    >The wide variety of delivery mechanisms, installation tools, and overall approaches to updates across the full breadth of applications makes it impossible to push all updates through this mechanism

    Do you know why there is a "variety of delivery mechanisms"?

    Because Microsoft continually refuses to provide a serious package manager for Windows apps.

    MICROSOFT, I DON'T want to see JAVA, FLASH or APPLE update managers ANYMORE.

    It's an unacceptable user experience for the 21th century.

    And don't just say that "most users won't even see the old ugly windows desktop".

    It's not that difficult. Just include an AppX manifest extension:


       <DestinationFolder Pattern="files*.*">%ProgramFiles%Contoso</DestinationFolder>



           <RegKey Key="HKLMSoftwareContoso">

                <RegValue Name="InstalledVersion">5.3</RegValue>




    or – at least -


       <Install SilentFlags="/S">…/Install>

       <Update SilentFlags="/S">…/Update>

       <Uninstall SilentFlags="/S">%ProgramFiles%Contosounins000.exe</Uninstall>


    Come on, hire me, I'll work for free, but please implement this feature and don't abandon desktop apps.

  94. duluca says:

    Microsoft does REALLY need to provide a mechanism for 3rd party application updates. I think 3rd party updaters are the number one thing that slow down my PC over time (and requires maintenance). I know of lot's of people who disable these updaters to improve performance, only to be affected by a Flash or Java RT vulnerability.

    Today, we can select to "trust" or not trust a driver installation from a certain company, by trusting their certificate. Same mechanism could be used for the updater to do automatic updates. Or for the more paranoid, these updates can be clearly presented as 3rd party and be selected optionally.

    However, NORMAL people don't understand these updates, their importance and necessity of applying them in a timely manner. They DO understand the concept of trusting a company or not, which is how we geeks judge these updates anyway.

    I think a more clear, manageable and robust TRUST system will solve the issue of 3rd party updates. I really wish you guys won't delay your action on this issue. But we already your feature set is decided, and what we say here largely doesn't matter anyway.

  95. HopefulButDoubful says:

    Thank you for making Windows update in Windows 8 such a flexible and thoughtful experience.

    It's unfortunate that you continue to use leverage to "encourage" developers to write metro apps (with locking to Windows 8) by doing things like excluding 3rd party desktop apps from Windows Update. Trust is the issue? Really? More trust is lost by Microsoft by this move than lost by some mis-perception on Microsoft's part. It's pretty clear by excluding desktop apps from the store, from windows update that you are trying to kill them off. Antiufo has provided a simple solution for both windows update and including these applications in the store.

    Without a story for developing LOB apps within the WinRT/Metro framework you are jumping the gun by ignoring the desktop leaving the door wide open for business to start migrating to more established platforms where they can "re-imagine" their business apps on devices that people already love.

    While I appreciate the transparancy of this blog it is also unforunate that this blog is simply a tool for justifying your descisions and reprograming people's perceptions in the hope that your product will be better "understood" upon release. I have long been a proponent of Microsoft based solutions however with the approach you are taking with Windows 8 I can no longer advocate for you. Microsoft has lost its way and survives soley on its lifeline of Windows and Office. I have no doubt that Windows 8 will be a "success" in terms of sales — it is after all the default OS for every PC sold. But as a game-changer it will simply be an also-ran phone OS bolted onto the existing Windows monopoly while the actual game-changers (iOS and Android) wil be leaving you behind.

  96. Dave says:

    It might be just me, but I'd really like an 'Update and go to sleep' option on the shutdown screen/menu. I usually put my computer to sleep when I'm done for the day, but if I want to completely install updates I either have to shut it down and then wait for a full reboot and install in the morning, or restart, wait for updates to install, and then put my PC to sleep.

  97. Great. This is awesome. Just can't wait to buy Win 8

  98. Use Secunia PSI, an excellent updater

  99. Also, integrate desktop apps also please!! Don't forget the good old desktop!! It is NOT ONLY metro!

  100. MikeR says:

    "The majority of automatic update users (39%) are updating when they shut down their systems."

    39% isn't a majority of anything.  

  101. I am sure it is an improvement over Windows 7 or Vista but technically it still means that 2 or 3 steps behind all other major OS.

    Anyway it is fine, this is not a deal breaker for me.

  102. Greg says:

    Anything that does not update the computer including the code that is being used without a restart – is nothing special or innovative – you aren’t doing a good job, you are doing what is passable at this stage, I think the UI of these Metro option panels is so cheap and basic – it feels backward ten years – can’t we have a solid sleek design that has a future, wake up Steven.

  103. Alvaro says:

    Nice, just when i was about to quit viewing this blog … you bring and interesting topic not related with metro int….

    New WU is an huge improvement, but it can be even better … just reading the comments u can find ideas and features for an even better Wu o MU…


  104. Timothy says:

    "Last word to the community: It would be better, if all those post were written with the points mentioned in mind. Me and the Microsoft W8 team would be pleased to come here to get ideas and seriously discuss issues, improvements, suggestions for features/ improvements… Comments like: "First blog not mentioning the Metro UI :-) Great stuff." @Alex Verboon are not helping at all, keep those posted on your wall on Facebook or somewhere else but don't post them here, it's spam!"

    Maybe the reason you are getting so many anti-Metro comments is because there is a large community of people who don't like Metro at all?  It's not spam.  It's just being glad to see improvements (and blog posts) in the non-Metro parts of Windows.  I, for one, will disable Metro immediately on every Windows 8 PC I use.  If you like it, great,  But don't turn a blind eye to the fact that a lot of people don't like it.  Don't shoot the messenger.

  105. Timothy says:

    "However, as we discussed at the //build/ conference, the new Windows Store will provide a one-stop shop for (free and paid-for) Metro style apps, with an integrated update service to help ensure apps are maintained in a consistent manner."

    This is what I'm talking about.  Why is this feature ONLY for Metro apps???  The Windows ecosystem right now is 100% non-Metro!  Maybe in the future it will be more Metro.  But it isn't right now.  This policy does not solve any 3rd party app updating problem.  It's a cop out.

  106. wr says:

    So does this mean, that there will be no auto-login option for Win8 and no lock screen option? I use my desktop solely so i need no logins or lock screens. So i will not get any notifications then. Maybe you still need to leave the option to have tray (or other) notifications other just on the login/lock screen (maybe in the toolbar of the Start screen), or in the systray, because i probably won't be using Start screen much (heck, i probably won't be using Win8 much:))

  107. Timothy says:

    That's weird.  My first comment where I praise the work done on WU got eated.  But my other comments where I complain about Metro went through. LOL.  Odd.

    Anyway, GOOD WORK on WU.  I hope the notification icon is still an option.  I'm more likely to see that at the end of my computing session and remember to install updates.  I don't want to have to install updates before I log on (which is how the UI workflow looks right now).  I know I can see the message at lock/log off, but the last thing I do is close my laptop lid, so I wouldn't see anything at the end of my session.  Just food for thought.  I think notification icon fixes that because I'll see it nagging me through my entire computer session.

    Also, THANK YOU for getting rid of the modal shutdown dialog.  That thing bugs me so much.

  108. Chen says:

    Have you addressed the issue when you take "Install Updates and Shut Down" then come back the next day, start up the computer and have to wait 10 minutes for updates to finish installing. A better option would be "Install Updates, Reboot and Hibernate".

    This way i can leave the computer updating and come back and trust it to be usable within a minute next time i use it.

  109. FTLNewsFeed says:

    It's 2011, almost 2012 and we still can't get an update without restarting the machine? Even my graphics drivers, of all things, can update itself without needing a restart.

  110. Taylor Hall says:

    I like what you have done with suppressing the notifications, and I like the idea that there is less chance of losing work because of updates.  However, I would really like to see Microsoft figure out a way to prevent restarts–period.  In the age of "always on" computers, restarts aren't really an option any more.  There's got to be a way that you can gracefully replace the code while its running in memory and keep all the happy applications running along.  Or, even if it requires stopping a couple of services for a moment and then replacing code and then restarting those services.  There should be no reason to restart for anything except changing the actual kernel.  We have linux servers that run for 300+ days easily without requiring restarts, but they always get updates.  My laptop or windows 8 tablet should do the same thing.  Restarts should be a once-a-year thing.

  111. Alex says:

    On day two and three there should be the option "shutdown" as well as "shutdown and reboot". If I want to shutdown my system quickly (without 10 minutes of installing updates) and I don't want to sleep for whatever reason, I don't have that option.

  112. JustSomeWinGuy says:

    I hate to sound like a hackneyed school teacher, but Microsoft, I'm very disappointed with you.

    We have entered an era in computing where patching vulnerabilities in widely used 3rd-party programs is at least as important as patching vulnerabilities in Windows itself.  These programs are where a great deal of the action in security is right now.  Meanwhile, the vast majority of users know little or nothing about the threats in this area of non-Windows security vulnerabilities. Ask a non-IT professional user whether his or her PC has all of its needed security updates installed, and more likely than not you'll get either an "I don't really know." or "Windows Update says I'm up-to-date, so I guess so."  

    I can understand why Microsoft wouldn't want to take on responsibility for distributing updates for every program ever written to run on Windows. But really, most of the most concerning vulnerabilities are those found in the handful of 3rd-party programs that have become very, very, very widely installed. (Most "concerning" in the first place exactly because those programs are present on so many machines.) Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Reader, the Java client plug-ins, Firefox,  and perhaps a few others. If you guys wanted to, you could focus a new 3rd-party update functionality on these relatively few, incredibly common programs; sort of the high percentage shots of 3rd-party program patching. (Of course, we would all like much broader coverage in terms of software that could take advantage of updating by Windows, but let's assume one wants to start with a more modest goal.)  A relatively small bit of new effort by Microsoft could pay huge dividends for many millions of end users, users who right now often don't even realize that the need to install security updates for these big-name programs exists at all. (Let alone the need to regularly dig through your system to make sure the several updaters that are responsible for downloading and installing those updates are all functioning as they should.)  

    From everything I've read (here and elsewhere) and everything I've seen in the developer preview there will be some very important security enhancements in Win8 when it ships. It's a shame that users will still have the onus on themselves to make sure the numerous (often buggy, sometimes off by default) updaters for each of their desktop programs are setup and working properly. I hope that you will reconsider your decision for post- Windows 8 releases.

  113. DCMonkey says:

    I'm still on Vista (gasp), so maybe this changed somewhat in Windows 7, but I'm one of those that downloads updates automatically, and manually chooses when to install them. I normally put my (desktop) PC to sleep when I'm not using it, but when there are pending updates, clicking sleep will shutdown the PC after applying the updates. I find myself wishing it would instead apply the updates, reboot, then go back to sleep, so I can just wiggle my mouse and log back in later as usual, rather than having to remember to reach around and press the power button to cold start the PC.

  114. @Taylor Hall: Unfortunately that's one of the biggest misconceptions in the Linux world. The fact that the system doesn't necessarily tell you a restart is required, doesn't equate to the fact you don't need to restart. Most updates still won't actually take effect until a restart has taken place and as such Linux boxes with a high claimed uptime are often still running the older, vulnerable code even though the patches have seemingly been "installed"

    Windows has done a lot to reduce the impact of updates and it'd be great to see even more. The holy grail of systems design, where a commonly used system library could somehow be patched without upsetting running code would be lovely, but is still rather a long way off on any system, I'm afraid. Interestingly the Metro app model, which requires applications that have been suspended to be fully capable of restarting from scratch and returning to the state the user left it in, could very well be the first step in the right direction for this sort of minimal restart solution.

  115. Mike says:

    I think its amazing and bizarre that MSFT still requires restarts so frequently on updates. Unix/Linux has never had this issue  – it is rare when they need a restart after an update and Mac hardly ever does either (at least since I have been using one which is since OSX). I have used all three platforms spanning a 25 year career and its always made me question the ability of Microsoft engineering that this is required. Certainly I don't know of anyone who doesn't consider it a nuisance – especially considering the frequency of these updates nowadays…

  116. @JustSomeWinGuy says:

    I have to agree with you somewhat, although it would be a nearly impossible task for Microsoft to wrap their arms around the giant plethora of Windows applications that currently exist.  The history of how the applications were released and installed has a lot to do with that.  There are too many different ways that an application can be "installed" on a system, let alone the number of different application installers that exist.

    I would hope though that possibly all Metro style apps or applications/programs (just to not offend anyone that doesn't like a particular name) would follow a similar methodology that other app stores do.  If an update is available for something you have installed, you would be alerted in some manner that an update is available.

    Again though, I think expecting Microsoft to take ownership of updates on the entire set of Windows applications that exist already today is just a non-starter.  They would need to create an entirely new ecosystem and force fit old applications into that.

  117. John McFly says:

    In Windows 7 if you stop the updates and/or turn off PC because it's taking too long, Windows 7 becomes quite unusable at restart. Fortunately with a System Restore point it comes back to life. In Windows 8 will it still count till 30% before restarting and from 30% to 100% before logging in as in Windows 7?

  118. pocketdrummer says:

    Wow, the most annoying "feature" of windows just got worse.

    I would love it if I could just postpone or DISABLE the automatic shutdown timer. If I don't want to update right then, I shouldn't be forced to do so!

    On another note, can someone PLEASE allow us to PREVENT APPLICATIONS FROM STEALING FOCUS!? It's really hard to multitask when you open something, then switch to Word or your browser to type and the application pops up in front of what you're typing WHILE YOU'RE TYPING!

    You guys need an "Anti-Frustration" department that checks all the crap that goes into the OS to make sure it's not going to result in hundreds of smashed monitors due to user rage.

    I guess I'll be sitting Win8 out just as I did with Vista.

  119. This looks great! Thanks for taking the time to improve the update process!

  120. Jonathan says:

    It seems the core of the issue is why files cannot be updated if they are in use.  If that problem could be solved, then updating while running would be easy.  Given that it has not happened yet, it seems that is not an easy problem to solve.  Perhaps that should be given a second look.

  121. I can see there's the usual hysteria that Microsoft is going to "force" you to to an update when you don't want to. Didn't you see the postpone feature or is it just easier to hate on Microsoft?

  122. NP says:

    Providing an updating service which takes care of 3rd party apps is hard due to the quality checks you would have to put in place for each update I understand. However, providing a Windows background service which can be used by 3rd parties to update their applications without having each 3rd party build their own updators is something which I am sure you could do. The service will offer no centralized UI so that it will not be identified as a Microsoft service by the users. It would be only available through its API to 3rd party developers which could use it to schedule and deliver their updates. It could just be a service which downloads securely and reliably executables which are signed from a given URL, like the Background Intelligent Transfers Service BITS today. But it would also be able to manage a schedule, manage restarts, etc. Why couldn't  you have implemented that? Not wanting to use Windows Update for Flash and Chrome is understandable. Not building a powerful updating mechanism which 3rd parties can use forcing each company to have to write their own is unexcusable though. What do you think?

  123. @ Dave

    We looked into this scenario and there are challenges with “ Update and Sleep” because sleep preserves the state of your user session. When a restart is done, the system will need to tear down the user session state in order to update the files that were in use. To really put the system back to the state you were in prior to “sleep”, it really would mean that we need to update, restart, then auto-login, then lock, then sleep.  Since we don’t want to auto-login(due to concerns from a security standpoint), the experience basically is “Update and Shutdown” or “Update and Restart” which will bring the system back to your login screen.


  124. Stefan says:

    Languagepacks seem often to fail in both Vista and 7 when using WU. I am now about to install my language on Vista Ultimate for a 3rd time. I get the error event id 1001. Very annoying to install a languagepack many times before it works. Why can't they be downloaded from Microsoft Downloadcenter. There is no need to keep the links secret they leak sooner or later any way, and can be installed to any version of Vista and 7. Make them be free for all versions instead.

  125. Christos Karras says:

    I have two annoyances with Windows Updates:

    1. When I shutdown my laptop and Windows decides to install updates, it's very annoying. If I shutdown my laptop (rather than reboot it), it's usually because I'm leaving home/work and I want to take the laptop with me. If Windows starts installing updates, I'm stuck there while waiting for the updates to install (I don't trust my battery to work long enough for the updates to complete). The workaround I'm using is to hibernate instead of shutdown when I want to leave, but it's very easy to forget and accidentally shutdown (especially if I'm in a hurry to leave).

    Autorebooting after the timer expires is not better. If I start a long running job before leaving for the night (possibly a friday night before a long week-end), I want the job to complete when I get back, and see all details about its execution. So even a 3 day delay before autorebooting is bad, since that delay could be reached on a long week-end.

    2. I work with several PCs (home laptop/desktop, work laptop/desktop) and with several virtual machines on these different computers. This can make installing updates very long – wait for VM to install its update, then wait for the physical PC to do its updates. I've once wasted almost 3 hours of work because of that, naively thinking the updates would only take a few minutes while I was going to get some coffee. Usually, it's not as bad as that, but if future updates are going to get batched together (once a month), then it could make this problem worse.

    The reason I use a PC is to get work done, it's not to constantly update it. Yes, updates are a necessary evil, but I believe reducing the Windows Update annoyance is the one most important feature that's missing from Windows.

    Now here are the solutions I would suggest:

    1. It's OK to keep the "install updates" at shutdown behavior, but when the "Installing Updates" screen appears, there should be a "Postpone" button. This button would give different postponing options, for example:

    - Postpone until next reboot (I can plug the laptop at home for the night to install the updates)

    - Postpone until next shutdown (and it should be postponable at the next shutdown too)

    2. Don't autoreboot even after the 3 days delay. If I keep my computer open that long without rebooting, there's a good reason. Or at least make that delay configurable.

    3. Try as much as possible to avoid reboots. If files are in use, show the user a list of those files, and the list of processes that are using them. This would allow me to stop selectively the processes that require it, ensure that my work is saved and that I'm not interrupting any work in progress. Have the list dynamically updated so that I see it shrink as I close processes, or see it grow if I do anything that makes these files in use again. Once the list is empty, apply the update.

    This probably won't work with all files (maybe some operating system files are always in use), but it should reduce the frequency of the problem.

  126. Charles says:

    The only time I reboot my iPad is when it runs completely out of juice.  Welcome to the post-PC world.

  127. Mohammad says:

    Do you guys have any plans to include some form of LAN-syncing for windows updates? This way multiple computers at home do not have to download the same updates each time. Of course, different computers may get different updates, but at least shared updates (e.g., security updates) should be synced between all machines on the LAN.

  128. @Mohammad

    You can already do that if you have an Active Directory domain. It's reasonable that an organization with several hundreds of PCs doesn't want every user to download the update separately.

    I don't think this is such a big issue for home network – how many PCs do you have at home – 2, 3,4? 2-3 downloads of several MBs (OK, even several hundreds MB) is not such a big deal when we download GBs of data every day, stream HD movies, etc.

  129. @mimi and @wr

    For accounts with no password, one of two things can happen. After the 3 days period has lapsed, if WU detects that there are no background apps running (i.e there is no chance of losing user data) and user is not in presentation mode (i.e giving a presentation, playing a game or watching a movie full-screen), it will auto-restart the PC. If WU detects that you have background apps running or in full-screen presentation mode, then on first login after the 3 days period, you will see is the 15 minute timer notification to save your work and restart the PC.


  130. chirag says:

    when you explain the future of .net framework in win8?

  131. Pranav says:

    are our comments over the previous blog posts still considered???

  132. AaronG says:

    @Farzana re @mimi and @wr

    But that doesn't answer the question of what happens if automatic updates are set to download and notify before install.  With them and myself not using a login screen or needing to lock our PCs when would we ever see there are updates to review and install?

    Your post only answers what happens when updates are set to automatically install.

  133. Rambo says:

    Understandable that ALL third party software can't be updated through Windows Update.

    But why not integrate some major software vendors into Windows Update! For instance Adobe Reader, Skype, iTunes etc. That wouldn't be difficult to do, and it would cover most of the updating required for the average Windows user.

  134. @everyone complaining about acres of WU files and the SxS folder polluting your system drive with hard links that Windows Explorer doesn't understand to files that you no longer need but can't delete:

    I hope the deafening silence from MSFT on this issue has answered your questions. SxS isn't broken, that ~15gigs of space you lost on your SSD is still there, because they're hard links, you see? Windows Explorer doesn't understand that, and won't let you *use* the ~15gigs of space, but that's entirely beside the point. The space is there. You can use it if you want. Neither SxS or Explorer are going to get fixed. But it's fine because everyone will use Metro apps and then we won't need SxS or Explorer, do you see? Simple.

    Everything's in hand.

  135. Sotigris says:

    How will automatic updates work on 3G connection? will there be an option to disable updates on 3g enabled tablets? how about apps and the metro UI?

  136. Avi Jit @ says:

    i think windows shud nt require a restrt to cmplt the updts..evrythngs shud be easy nd fast..we shud ve such features so tht if system freezes we cn strt frm the same point..

  137. Eddy says:

    I applaud the progress described in the article, but there is one area not discussed:

    When installing updates at shutdown/startup, there is no safe way to interrupt it. If I've spent an hour sorting out problems on a system, and do a final shutdown/restart to check everything is working correctly, I don't want to be met by the dreaded "Installing update 1 of 76…" where I have no option but to sit and wait it out.

    I, and I expect many others, would love to have an option to short-circuit this so that the remaining updates could be installed subsequently rather than right now. A simple "Press F8 to postpone remaining updates until next time" would do it — as soon as the current update file completes, the normal shutdown could resume, rather than waiting for them all to complete. This would really make life easier.

    (A few weeks ago, I was at a meeting and my trusty old laptop, running Windows 7, decided to install a bunch of updates during shutdown. Because my battery now only provides a few minutes of power, I had to leave it tethered to a mains supply in the meeting room for 30 minutes afterwards to allow it to complete the update successfully; extremely annoying!)

  138. AaronG says:

    @Sotigris answered above:

    Jon DeVaan [Microsoft]  Jon DeVaan [Microsoft]

    14 Nov 2011 1:32 PM # @MartinLenord: The default WU policy for 3G network usage is to NOT use 3G for WU downloads.

  139. A. del Campo says:

    I support the idea of clicking Sleep to Install updates + Restart + Sleep. I do not see the problem with the autologin security concerns, as I do not need the login to happen! There is no need to start a user session, just put the computer to sleep after it is fully loaded. The login screen should show up when recovering from sleep as usual.

    I install updates interactively precisely to avoid waiting the next time I start the computer if what I wanted was just putting it to sleep.

    Thanks for your great job!

  140. jader3rd says:

    I worked on a system where due to some magic driver (never could figure which one) updates would regularly freeze on the first reboot. We determined that if the screen said "Updating Windows, don't turn off the computer" for more than an hour, it was safe to turn off the computer. Reboot would succeed %100 of the time after that. And yes, the update was applied. I wish there was a timer in there where the system would display "It appears I haven't actually don't any work for some time, it's probably safe to reboot your computer now, there really isn't anything you could try at this point".

  141. shrippen says:

    I would love it to have a unified update procedure for all software on my system.

    And if you say it's too much work to check all this software and everything… I would love to settle with a "secure" and "unsecure" update branch – just like you can add different repositories to a linux distribution. Why not give the possiblity (not by default, but for the more experienced users) to add certain developers (so you can manually choose which companys you trust too push updates onto your system) to your update process. This would be so much easier than the current state.

    But anyway, it's great so far!

  142. … I have a question.

    why can't Windows update files that are in use? why does Windows lock files that are kept in RAM? it isn't reading from the disk.. there's no "security" related reason to lock the system files in use… so, why don't you do the logical action, of removing locks from system files that are in use, but require trustedinstaller access to remove or replace system files (except free floating pngs ;))

  143. Irfan says:

    Hi, nice to see that there are some thinking in this area of Windows. I want to give my suggestion on this topic. Reboot isn't a problem , in most cases we can do a reboot for the updates. Windows 8 will reboot much faster and the time will bring us faster devices, so this isn't the problem that have to be solved. I'm a it-service guy and have seen any kind of installation that you can imagine. One thing that windows makes a messi-system is the fact that all software vendors use his own update-notifier that is startet at boot-time and penetrates the user with the update notification all the time and unnessery consumes system-resources. In most cases a windows system has min. 5-10 of these disturbing taskbar notifiers from 3rd party vendors. So the thing is to eliminate the process  duplication of these update notifiers. A posible solution could be to give the 3rd party vendors a unified entrypoint for update notifications, so you only need one process to start up at boot – time. You don't have to deliver the updates for free. This you can supose as a payed service for the Software-Vendor to give them a quality difference as to those that don't have these unified update delivery service. I think this is one thing that we can call a "Cloud-Service" for a OS. Completly eliminate that Notification-Programm-Trash from these Companies.

  144. @AaronG

    Hi Aaron

    You are correct. For a user set to download and notify before install, you will not see a notification at all that updates are available. User will have to proactively go to Windows Update App to dowload and install updates. And ofcourse, there is no automatic 15 min restart either since all update activity is manual in this mode.


  145. Some people have asked questions about the WinSxS folder and the plan around this for Windows 8. The WinSxS directory stores current and previous version of Windows components, for rollback purposes. In Windows 7, we introduced the ability to clean up WinSxS after installing a rollup collection of updates (i.e. SP1). This capability will continue to exist in Windows 8. On Windows 7 SP1, the cleanup can be achieved by using the Disk Cleanup tool found under Start -> All Programs -> Accessories -> System Tools -> Disk Cleanup.  Click on “Clean up system files” and choose “Service Pack Backup Files” from the list.  Running this tool will reclaim disk space.  

  146. Has any thought been given to different update settings for different types of updates? Specifically, managing Windows Defender Definition updates with its own update settings? As a developer I must manage when and what updates are applied, so my settings are to check for, but not automatically install, updates. I'd really like to set Windows Defender Definitions to update automatically because they're updated so frequently.

  147. @Steven Sinofsky

    Post request: how about a blog post about networking in Windows 8?…/644b43f4-1e85-45e4-a663-f04183ea0fe8

  148. pmbAustin says:

    @Jim Bennett [MSFT]  — cleaning up those files really needs to be more automatic than that, imho.  And there needs to be some level that doesn't require you to wait for a Service Pack (up to a year!).  I don't think I could walk my parents through that series of steps, for example… its' way too "techy".  Especially given how long Disk Cleanup takes to run (run it, walk away for a cup of coffee or twelves, come back when it's FINALLY finished with the compression analysis)… it's just not acceptable in a user-friendly consumer OS these days.

    Similarly, there SHOULD be a setting somewhere to relocate that folder to somewhere else (for instance, I have an SSD for the OS and some base applications, but want to keep all USER files and this folder on the HDD).  It should be EASY to relocate stuff like this, so there's a more-or-less static OS partition (with any applications I wish to install there as well), and a more dynamic data partition that holds things like the swap file, user data ("My Documents", appdata, etc), and these system-update backup files.

  149. pmbAustin says:

    @Farzana Rahman [MSFT] — Just out of curiosity, could there be an option of putting the 'there are updates ready to install" notification in an unobtrusive place on the start screen?  For those who don't use a log-in screen, and lives mainly in the Metro world?  Will there still be a notification icon in the system tray on the desktop to alert someone who lives in the Desktop world all the time, and doesn't hit the login screen?

  150. btriffles says:

    @Farzana Rahman

    The new experience sounds like an improvement, especially with regard to avoiding the loss of user data.  However, I still see a couple problems:

    1.  If I log in after 3 days and see the 15 minute restart warning, it seems like there is no way to postpone/prevent the restart in 15 minutes.  If I can't or don't want to restart in 15 minutes, will the restart proceed even if I have programs running?  Someone logs in to a computer because they want to do some work, not waste time saving, restarting, and restoring their work.

    2.  After 3 days, what happens if multiple users have programs running in the background and one of them logs in?  Will the restart proceed in 15 minutes, causing the other users to lose their data?

    While I appreciate the need to maintain security, the most important task of a computer is to allow a person to do and store his work.  Although security updates reduce the likelihood of malware preventing a person from using his computer or losing his work, a forced reboot *ensures* that work is prevented and possibly lost.  At this point, the security update is arguably worse than the risk of malware.

    My opinion is that any forced reboot (without the knowledge and consent of the user) is a terrible idea.  It seems like the new system will ensure that the user has knowledge, but is left without ultimate control over a data-loss operation.  I would love to use and recommend fully automatic updates, but I will be unable to as long the desire for security outranks ultimate control and data preservation for the user.

  151. JeffreyUpstateNY says:

    Speaking as an IT person who installs updates on workstations and servers on three different networks, I almost always do an interactive installation because I want to control what updates are actually installed.  For example, installing an update such as Windows Genuine Advantage does nothing for the systems it would be installed upon, but take up disk space.  The same is true for DotNetFramework 3.0, 3.5 and 4.0.  Unless there is a specific requirement for those versions of DotNetFramework, they stay off the systems I update.  As Microsoft is well aware, installing them in the first place causes a need for more updates to keep them secure and takes up disk space and time patching them that could have been avoided by not installing them in the first place.  Unfortunately, if Microsoft has its way, and users did not interact with the updates, they and other unnecessary updates would automatically install.

  152. @Jim Bennett, I measured the size of the C:Windows folder using ctts.exe (cttrussize –  downloadable from, a German command line tool that can exclude all NTFS junction points, preventing hard links, symbolic links from being counted more than once when calculating size. The size of C:Windows on Windows Developer Preview (32-bit) is 9 GB and Explorer shows it (obviously incorrectly) as 12 GB. 64-bit will be even higher but when updates are installed, this grows to about 15-18 GB minus the hard links (Explorer then incorrectly shows it as 20-23 GB).

    Please understand that rollback ability is not more important for us more than disk space. Rollback is only performed in those rare cases when an update goes wrong and needs to be uninstalled. Once the PC is stable after rebooting and users use it for a few days, there is no need to keep the older components on the hard drive and there needs to be a way for the user to clean up the older components and reclaim disk space. Especially with SSDs, I would like to reclaim all the space available as soon as possible without waiting for a service pack which is released these days once in a blue moon. This ability is missing in Windows 7 because of which the installation footprint grows to unacceptable levels. It's sad this issue is not being tackled in Windows 8. Windows 8 is the third release where this by-design bloated and slow-performing servicing mechanism is being used.

    Please provide us with a way to clean up older components using dism. dism /online /cleanup-image /spsuperseded only seems to apply to a service pack. What about hotfixes? We want the cleanup ability for regular hotfixes so older versions of components do not continue to consume tons of space. Please add this ability. Something like dism /online /cleanup-image /hotfixessuperseded.

  153. Did will be update WMP and Paint in Windows 8 ?  Paint needs layers support, and WMP needs MKV format support.

  154. windows says:

    Ms Windows can't open chm or exe files with other languages!!!!…/h9d4ngrepfvlvd2e4a6.png

  155. Hello


    The experience is designed so you have 3 day’s time to proactively get the restart out of the way so you do not run into the 15 minute restart dialog after first login   Regarding postponing the restart dialog – this creates other challenges of how long to postpone, how many times to postpone etc – none of which result in an optimal user experience as we have learnt from Windows 7.  


    The automatic updating experience across both Metro and Desktop is the same and consistent. The updates notification on login screen is the only notification you will see for both Metro and Desktop.  So the notification icons and pop-ups that you see on Windows 7 desktop do not exist on Windows8 desktop.  This holds true for all modes of updating – automatic and notify before download/install.


  156. I am Windows says:

    I think that Windows must necessarily reduce the carbon disk 8GB are already so many. More space means more files, a file search slow, slow a virus scan, a backup is slow, a higher power consumption, a waste of time, a lower efficiency. This goes against your goals of making Windows more efficient. Find hot spots in the code is not enough to reduce power consumption, higher-level solutions are as are necessary for reducing power consumption. I hope this suggestion will be heard. Good job.

  157. Sadwin says:

    It is just sad to see the user being forced to restart caziness instead of designing the os in a way it does not require restarts after an update.

    I will simply turn off automatic updates if it requires forced restarts, so will most users. It simply is no option for always-on computers.

  158. jalf says:

    So, is there any prospect of Microsoft's own applications starting to use this Restart Manager thingy?

    As long as Notepad happily prevents you from restarting (and loses your work if you force a restart), it's hard to see why third-party applications should bother to behave better.

  159. Windows7 says:

    Being a serious PC user, it goes without saying I won't be touching Windows 8 and will be stickign with Windows 7.

    However, these improvements to Windows Updates are fantastic!

    I sincerely hope we see this find its way into Windows 7 SP2.

  160. @Farzana Rahman [MSFT]

    "So the notification icons and pop-ups that you see on Windows 7 desktop do not exist on Windows8 desktop."

    You are completely forgetting about home desktop users AGAIN. These computers usually don't have multiple users, and are using auto-login since the possibility of misuse is virtually non-existent. These people (including me) will never see update notifications and their system will never get updated unless WU is set to do so automatically.

    This is a mistake. There is no reason not to (optionally) retain WU notifications to the system tray – and/or put on the Start Screen, possibly, since as we were told that is supposed to be the "at a glance" notification center.

  161. Finally !! Great :) that's just awesome!

    Now i can rest in peace

  162. Dan says:

    I have a suggestion for Windows in general: many applications are using special update detection applications launched from Startup (or [HKLM|HKCU]…Run) or Windows services. On my system, for example, I have Adobe Update, Google Update and I remember having once a service for an Apple application (probably iTunes). Would it be possible to allow third-party applications to deliver the updates via Windows Update site? It would certainly help reduce the load on a system, improve system startup time, etc.

    Also, this feature would complement the already proposed Live Tile notifications system.

  163. James says:

    What happened to HOT PATCHING!!!   with Oracle Enterprise Linux I guess now uses KSPLICE so many of the critical things could be fixed in memory w/o a reboot and then installed fully when it does get rebooted.  Windows DID have a Hot Patch system but failed due to nobody knowing about it, it not being a required feature for everyone, and no automation with it aka you had to do it from the command line?  Bring Hot Patching Back with Windows 8 !  Make it a requirement to do! and automate it with Windows Updates in Windows 8


  164. @Farzana Rahman [MSFT] says:

    "For a user set to download and notify before install, you will not see a notification at all that updates are available."

    Is it just me, or does this sentence outlines something that is VERY WRONG with the system?

    Also, I remember a virus some time ago that forced system restarts within 1 minute, with a countdown. It was annoying as hell. I never want to see Windows forcing me to restart, ever. After 3 days, you can start bugging me to restart, but DO NOT force it on me. I'm the user, I'm in control.

  165. Stefan says:

    Windows 8 will be a huge failure on desktop computers. Sad the developers can't understand what we want who use Windows….. Please, go get another job so we can get something that works and are efficient as well. Windows 8 is a huge joke…..

  166. GreatOSLover says:

    @Earl…It looks like you have never used Linux or Mac…Or you probably have a very old version of them or they are NOT connected to internet or you never click System Updates check on these.. I have been using three different Linux distros for a while- Ubuntu/ Suse & mint a variant of Ubuntu and Mac (MBA & MBP). I had to to reboot my MBA three times two weeks back when there was a firmware update…Also remember not all updates on Windows 7 require reboot either..Further not all updates happen only upon restart…If it is a critical update and you need to reboot to prevent vulnerability you better do it…Don't get me wrong…I like Linux and it has absolutely come a long way..I love Mac but I also admire/ use Windows 7..Windows 7 is really good OS and has great security features…It has come a long way as well .All of them are very good operating systems and have their own ups and downs. Outright rejection like your comment is not fair..It is simply driven probably by your historic mindset…

  167. Nice Article.

    However, can't we avoid "restart" itself post updates? I think it's quite possible. My idea is whenever an update is installed that require updating system files that are in use (the core reason for reboot. right?), OS can hibernate particular APP / entire system, unload that system file, update it with newer file / version, and reload the App / OS. In this case, Hibernate experience would not bring the device to sleep mode, but, it would shade off the screen & disable all key combinations (such as Alt+Tab) and just display the status on system update. Once update is done, all app / system files are loaded back into the memory and user is ready to navigate the device.

    Exception would be updating the core Kernel file itself. :)

    Any thoughts?

  168. @Govindraj Joshi: The problem with replacing system files like that is that there is almost always a significant amount of internal state associated with a system library and application at any one time and the old representation of state may very well be incompatible with the new one. If you had entirely stateless APIs you'd be fine, although there is every possibility they'd not be terribly useful or performant. The Metro approach of architecting applications so they can be easily terminated at any time and restarted without having to lose state is probably a better approach long term. It would be very easy to imagine an all-Metro world in which updates could be almost entirely seamless without ever rebooting.

  169. PeePay says:

    @Farzana Rahman

    Thank you for actually reading the comments and replying :)

  170. Mike says:

    Will the .Net versions and other updates still be so painfully slow? Don't blame the ISP's for this, even with a WSUS server it's pathetically slow to patch even a fast new a machine. IT departments waste lifetimes sitting around waiting for the updates to install. It can take hours to patch up a newly built system requiring multiple reboots along the way. (and 100% .Net cpu usage)

    It would be nice if there was a working pause button, so if you got tired of waiting for a 30 minute patch to install you could get back to work without cancelling the install entirely.

    Also, there are issues with people running VM's of the OS's (for dev or whatever reasons) that don't regularly login to the machines. They may not want any auto reboots and may turn on auto-login even if MS doesn't like it. System tray warnings for those machines make a lot of sense (even if it's a option you must turn on). Hopefully the option won't only be a registry hack or group policy adjustment since they all have millions of google hits with everyone asking how to do something that should be obvious.

    Also, the WSUS server needs a lot of work. For example, you can automatically approve definition updates for security essentials and defender, but you can't automatically reject definition update approvals for products you don't use.

    Also, the categories for updates used in WSUS and Windows updates don't even match up. What's critical /important on WSUS isn't the same on a Windows box. And why isn't the malicious software update classified as a security update in wsus? Many "updates" have security improvements listed in their descriptions, but they aren't classified as security updates. Confusing!

    Off topic. :-)  I just bought a Ford Edge with Microsoft Sync. Man, it has so many bugs it's like I'm driving a beta car. It's cool, but I should get a price break for driving a beta! And I've heard you can do updates but MS and FORD go out of there way to make it difficult. How about an over the wire update system that works when the car is turned off? I've had it 3 months and I've lost count of the bugs I've encountered. Usually it's when you're trying to impress someone with your new car and you get stuck with a MS message saying the system is rebooting and you'll have to sit around waiting. – much like with PC's lol.

  171. Steven P Jobs says:

    Hello there, i see you are making good progress. But still i am gonna haunt all Windows 8 PC's and make them all come to MAC!!!!!!  Muhhahahahhahhahahahahahah !!!

    PS: I hereby fire Cook and make Siri the iCEO

    Sent from my iPad3 in Heaven

  172. NP says:

    You said that you detect a that a user is not at the computer by checking if the computer is locked. But what if I have my computer set-up to show a screen saver instead of locking after a period of inactivity? I hope screen savers have not been abolished in Windows 8? If they are still around, it means that when a screen saver is active also there would be no user at the computer, not only when the computer is locked. Not all screen savers lock the computer do they? I never lock my computer for example. I don't like it since I am the only one around who has physical access to it and so entering my password every time is something I don't want to do. So, I disabled the feature which locks the computer when I leave it unattended for some minutes. Please reconsider the way to detect that a user is present. I don't want my computer to lock every few minutes. It is so cumbersome. I want it locked only when I lock off or shutdown or manually lock it, i.e. after I explicitly tell it to do so and not after a period of inactivity. This way I will not need to enter and re-enter and re-enter again my password all the time when I am at home for example, but I will need to do so when I decide to take my computer out of the house for example.

  173. @pip25

    Even if Microsoft decides to follow through on this decision, It will be possible (and I'm sure someone will do just that) to create a Metro application that will check the updates installed on your system vs. updates available on Microsoft servers and display the ones (if any) that could be installed — on a live tile too.

  174. @doping

    For some reason I doubt Microsoft would allow anyone to hack into their update infrastructure like that, even if this particular use case would be pretty harmless.

  175. Rich says:

    I disagree with removing all pop-ups and relying solely on login screen notifications.  But if you do continue down that path, I would make the login screen notification less subtle; many users will not notice those words down in the right hand corner.

  176. @Jim Bennett

    Thank you for the response. However, while the ability to remove redundant updates after a Service Pack is welcome, it's still not a good solution. Why?

    1) We have to wait for a Service Pack to be released before we can run this. Typically, there might be 2-3 years between Service packs, assuming a 5-6 year lifecycle for Windows releases. Even if this goes down to 1-2 years, it is still far too long a time to wait before you can start reclaiming SSD space.

    2) This is a holdover of Vista's flawed "disks are big and cheap nowadays, let's fill/use them" philosophy. As has been proved with its reception, and many of the improvements MSFT has been forced to make, Bigger != Better. Small, efficient codebases don't just benefit lower disk space usage, they make for easier debugging, better architecture, and require more clear-headed programming and planning to start with. All that tends to lead to better quality code. SSD's caught Vista with its proverbial pants down, and showed that relying on hardware to mask the deficiencies in coding and decision making is always the wrong road to go down.

    3) I don't see any indication in your post to show MSFT have internally acknowledged that how Explorer deals with Hard Links is fundamentally broken, and have decided to fix it. The silence on that subject, like on the right-click menu and focus stealing is both deafening and extremely telling. Until that happens, even if we gain the ability to remove dead Windows Update backups, the Win SxS model will always be a source of conflict with your users, because the parts of Windows that we use don't actually support it properly.

  177. etacarinae says:

    @Farzana Rahman [MSFT]

    "The updates notification on login screen is the only notification you will see for both Metro and Desktop.  So the notification icons and pop-ups that you see on Windows 7 desktop do not exist on Windows8 desktop.  This holds true for all modes of updating – automatic and notify before download/install."

    Uhhhhhhhhhhh… *facepalm*. There are a lot of us users that do not use the login screen. Period. Zip. We use auto-login.

    I'm not upgrading to this iteration if I'm going to be forced to use a login screen because you want to copy the way apple's login screen behaves.

    This is once again a clear message that you're intent on forcing users onto the Metro kernel.


    "You are completely forgetting about home desktop users AGAIN. These computers usually don't have multiple users, and are using auto-login since the possibility of misuse is virtually non-existent. These people (including me) will never see update notifications and their system will never get updated unless WU is set to do so automatically.

    This is a mistake. There is no reason not to (optionally) retain WU notifications to the system tray – and/or put on the Start Screen, possibly, since as we were told that is supposed to be the "at a glance" notification center."

    I agree with pip25's sentiments wholeheartedly. This is a very, very stupid mistake.

  178. glenn_93 says:

    Lol antiufo sounds like another spammer like the stupid metro UI already seen some posts ago

  179. This is the third time I'm typing this comment in – not sure why comments are being dropped! Or does MSFT drop comments from folks that t criticise?

    I've read this post a couple of times (and most of the 175 comments!). Like many of the posts before, I find the news dissapointing in parts. It's great to see all the good work here, but at the end of the day, the two major customer issues are not being addressesd: the need to reboot at all and the need to patch 3rd party software.

    MSFT has has over 20 years to re-engineer NT to be able to not need a reboot when key code changes. And still, we are left with 1980's engineering that means monthly reboots or more for evrery system in our data centre. And nothing really changes here for Windows 8.

    if you are truly re-imagining Windows to be fast and fluid, why did you not imagine a world without regular reboots beind needed.

    How can you imagine an update strategy that loses user work? I regularly hear of, and myself experience, this problem. I have ALWAYS set WU to download patches but to let me chose when to reboot. yet all too frequently, I return to my office to find my workstations rebooted. And on at least two occasiosn I've lost work. Cusgtomers need this being fixed more than a phone interface on their desktop.

    if you are truly re-imagining Windows to be fast and fluid, why did you not imagine a world without user data loss?

    Finally, the lack of 3rd party update support is very dissapointing. Patching Windows systems is just too complex and you've done nothing in Win 8 to make that easier.

    if you are truly re-imagining Windows to be fast and fluid, why did you not imagine a simpler patch strategy for customers?

    All in all, I found this post (and am finding WIndowds 8) very disspointing. It chould have been so much better and you could have solved real prolems instead of just tinkering witwh the UI in a rather non-productive way.

    I've been using Windows 8 on my laptop as my sole OS for the past few days and it's painful. Yesterday I gave up and rebooted back to Win7. Although there are some neat features in Win 8, the big ticket items are simpliy not being fixed and that is a shame.

    I'm rapidly coming to agree with the view that, for update a least, Windows 8 is just lipstick on a pig. It could have been so much better!


  180. Hello,

    I would like to address a couple of questions that have come up in the blog comments – why is Windows just minimizing restarts instead of removing them altogether? How come Windows needs restarts when other platforms like Mac OS or Linux don’t?

    As we all know, not all updates to Windows require a restart. For these, the updating is silent and in the background without any disturbance to your user activity—just like installing a new video driver or any modern peripheral. When updates do require a restart, it is because system files that need updating are in use by an application or system itself. Any solution to update requires either a shutdown of the application using the system files (which involves an interactive step) OR a shutdown of a system itself (which depending on dependencies is equivalent to a restart and also interactive) OR delay the restart/re-initialization of files and just leave the old code running but you are still exposed to the vulnerability.

    All the operating systems (Windows or OS X or Linux or iOS or you name it) require restart with the only differentiator being the user experience for updating and handling of restart. As @AndyCadley pointed out, on some distributions of Linux, the restart is not required post installation and hence the vulnerability still exists until the restart is completed. As we know is sometimes the case, Windows sometimes errs on the side of too much information or transparency (and user control).

    On OS X, the user initiates the installation of updates and a restart occurs immediately after the update is downloaded and installed. And everyone with an iOS device knows that updates to the device require a restart (and a system backup). Because the updating on these platforms is initiated by the user, you may choose to not update and hence not experience a restart at all. But this also means you are not up-to-date with the latest bug fixes and vulnerable.    

    In Windows 8, we have made improvements to reduce restarts by consolidating all the restarts in a month down to one restart per month. And this is an ongoing endeavor for us to further reduce restarts.


  181. JMutie says:


  182. @Farzana Rahman [MSFT]: I would like to defer on some points.

    Windows Vista was supposed to resolve "reboots after patching" issue with "FreezeDry" technology. But, some how, it didn't happen. If Microsoft had this solution ready 4-5 years ago, why can't this be applied to Windows 8 at least?

    Apple Mac LionX OS has "Resume" feature which allows users to get back to their previous state (before restart) with all user data loaded.

    End users are fine with OS reboot to get rid of vulnerability, but not at the cost of losing their data and time.

    Any thoughts?

  183. @JMutie says:

    Why are you shouting?  …or is your caps lock just stuck on?

  184. Great Update4 (?) LOL xD

    Windows Update its a great tool but need too integrate with third parties apps for example use WU to download all games patches or updates from other non microsoft software or no basic drivers

    Windows Updates => Microsoft Update => Computer Update (Programs, Games, Drivers, Security, etc)…

  185. Toni says:

    immediate reboot after updating a system is better then hot patching!


    It's better to be sure that your System reboots properly in production state after applying updates, so you can reverd the changes immediadly before weeks passes by and you don't remember what changes you have made to the system in the meentime.

    Installing Updates against Rebooting tooks much more Time so the time waste for Rebooting is almost smaler then the update process. Faster Updates will give the User more benefit!

    Hot Patching a System is  "Nice to Have" and makes only sense in 24×7 Environments, but during the Patchprocess you can't almost use the system as you want because of stopping services or unloading drivers etc.

    and mostly you have more problems to bring your system in production state without a reboot.

    please spend more time for usefull changes in update notifications, delivery, install and not only for your own products, please provide that for all 3rd Party Vendors as well.

  186. Where's HOT PATCH says:

    You made hot patch possible in Windows starting in Windows server 2003 sp1 WHY DON'T YOU

    USE HOT PATCH AS A WAY TO reduce restarts

  187. xyz198155 says:

    I think windows 8 sucks… dont see anything great about it. It is just an extension of windows 7 with the metro interface hooked up… Nothing really revolutionary or something to do with innovation. And we are all fools in the world to continue to see the monopoly of windows and continue to use this stupid OS.

  188. Anon says:

    I think the commenters who say that Windows 8 is like Windows 7 with metro tucked onto it are right in a way. The Windows accessories have not been updated, Explorer has the same bugs and only got the ribbon. Nothing amaizing like a updator service, is happening for the desktop. It is all metro. What is new for the desktop. The same old bugs, the same old issues.

    Today I tried for example to create a new folder in Explorer and by mistake I named it the same as an existing folder. Look what a horrible and unintuitive message I got back. In this age and time, Explorer still has stupid messages, even after years of development. Read it here:

    Confirm Folder Replace

    This destination already contains a folder named 'zzz'.

    If any files have the same names, you will be asked if you want to replace

    those files.

    Do you still want to merge this folder?

    What do they mean by merging an empty folder does not make sense to me. Microsoft products always lack polish. I am sorry.

    And why is it than after so many years of development Wordpad still beeps at you when you are say at the beginning of the line and you press Home. What if I want to make sure my cursor is at the begginning of theline each time I press Up because I was nt to indenall lines by pressing tab at the beggiining of ach one? Do I have to suffer through a series of beeps in order to indent a banch of lines.?

  189. Anon says:

    Wordpad beeps to you when say you are at the beginning of the document and press backspace but it does not when you are at the end and press delete. Beeping in Wordpad is such a horrible idea. MS Word does not beep. Why should Wordpad? However, your developers do not look at these "minor" things. Polish is not important. If this was Windows 95 I wouldn't be complaining. But with Windows 8 you expect that the accessories for example, after going through so many iterations of development and product cycles, they should be simply perfect and no detail, even the smallest, would be wrong.

  190. Jesper says:

    I sincerely hope that you have solved the "1 licens 1 PC"-problem. It is not very 2011y that you have to buy a licens for each and every one of your computers. I mean almost everyone has more than one pc, I have one stationary and one laptop, it doesn´t sound right that I would need to buy two licences for that.

  191. btriffles says:

    Thanks for the response.  While I understand and appreciate the 3 day warning, I still maintain that a forced reboot (after any amount of warning) is the wrong decision.  The user should be in control when it comes to a disruptive and potentially data-destructive operation like rebooting.

    The reason people chose to postpone in Windows 7 is because they didn't want to reboot right now.  The dialog was less than optimal, but forcing a reboot is the *exact opposite* of optimal, making the user do something he does not want to do.

    Perhaps you could allow the 15 minute reboot to be dismissed, and the identical process continues upon the next log in.

  192. Can't grumble about updates, even if they inconvenienced at times. The system seems more perfect now. Farzana has done some nice, detailed explaining here. (btw, have a real younger sister by the same name).

  193. B8Blog says:

    @btriffles — You could also just get notified that there are updates to install and manually install them when you are willing to.  This way you never have to worry about reboots when you don't explicitly begin the update process.  The challenge in postponing the reboot is the false sense of security that you did the updates so are secure, even though you have not completed them.  It is pretty important that we get to a secure state implied by the installation process.

  194. @Farzana Rahman

    Have you considered letting users fine-tune their update experience? For example, you could let users install updates automatically on shutdown (with the option to do a non-update shutdown like the one in Windows Vista) while letting users choose to never automatically restart the computer – a cross between "notify me before install" and "install automatically."

  195. DaveWill says:

    I think you might discover that the 30ish% of folks who interact with windows update notification to immediately install those updates are folks who want security updates installed as quickly as possible.  3 days is too long for those folks.  They are thinking of security in hours not days.

  196. Christos Karras says:

    @Farzana Rahman

    "Regarding postponing the restart dialog – this creates other challenges of how long to postpone, how many times to postpone etc "

    It is critical that you resolve this challenge. As I said in my previous comment, having updates automatically installed at shutdown would be acceptable, as long as there is a way to postpone it if I don't have time to wait for the updates to install.

    How long to postpone: give me 1 minute to click "Postpone" before really starting the update (and during the 1 minute delay, start doing any preparation work that can easily be rolled back if the user clicks postpone).

    Also allow postponing until an "event" instead of a timed postpone:

    - until next reboot

    - until next shutdown

    - …

    How many times to allow postponing: unlimited.

    If I'm installing some software that requires multiple reboots, I want to install the updates only once I'm done with the install.

    Also give the user some data to guide his decision to postpone or not: Just knowing that it's installing "Update 1 of 79" is not enough. For example, also give me the total size of the updates (and any other data to help guess how much time is left)

    "In Windows 8, we have made improvements to reduce restarts by consolidating all the restarts in a month down to one restart per month. "

    I don't believe that's an improvement, by batching updates we will have 30 minutes delays for installing updates every month (instead of mostly delays of a 1 minutes every few days).

    You may think that 30 minutes once a month is not so bad, but for someone using multiple computers and virtual machines, it becomes *hours* once a month. Therefore, I want to be able to update each computer at a time when I would not have been using it anyway.

  197. BSH says:

    I spent a fair chunk of my career writing software for systems which were several orders of magnitude more complex than PCs.  One fundamental requirement was that most updates – the main exception being installation of a major release – could not take the system, or any part of it, down.  If you design the system from the ground up with this as a requirement, it's not the least bit difficult to do.  If you design the system not even knowing that it is possible to do this sort of thing, it's extremely difficult to ever wedge it in.  I suppose Microsoft deserves some credit for trying to make updates less intrusive than they've been in the past, but it's a far cry from starting with non-intrusive updates as a requirement, and building the system around that idea.

  198. Stefan says:

    Windows 8 still don't show any signs to be more efficient than previous versions. Windows 8 is even worse to work with.than f.ex 2000 and XP. I still don't understand when rightclick a drive and choose security and then clicka advanced and then choose Owner, why i have to click edit. That is just one unnecassary extraclick. This idiocy started in Vista. Couldn't You let users use less clicks ? I wonder who did come up with that ideas. I do also dislike go to a search windows to type for programs. Either i start them through the NORMAL start menu or via shortcuts on the desktop, alt. quicklaunch. Please, stop this BS with startscreen and apps. It is ridicilous ! I did tell some friends about Windows 8. They did believe i was joking about Windows 8. When they finally saw some info online about it they just stared…. They, as well as i, will stay with their XP and Vista. Not even Windows 7 is a choise…. Return to the roots, the classic look and functions ! People want the old stuff because they know where to find tools and other things. Most people even don't care about themes and stuff like that. Have it as a choice the users can do, but please, remove that UGLY and NON functional MetroUI – we don't want it !!!!

  199. Stefan says:

    I still see that You don't take negative comments very serious. Too bad when You get so much feedback. But continue to ignore it and be unemployed after the release ! (I will write to Microsoft and tell them about Your complete ignorance to long time customers. Wonder what they say when Windows 8 fails……)

  200. Most comments criticizing the new WU notification experience, timing policy and/or the slowness of the updating mechanism are not questioning the underlying need for all this updating to occur in the first place. Everyone seems to be fully signed-up to the patching "culture", with no questions asked. What i question is the necessity of lumbering all users and systems with the same update load, regardless of the security practices employed. For example, on a system configured with all users as split-token administrators, running non-protected mode web browsers, and having either none or out of date antivirus/malware software, the patching requirements are no greater than a system that runs all users as Limited User accounts, only running admin accounts for elevation purposes, runs IE9 and Adobe Reader 10 (or later) in protected mode, does not have JRE installed, and has up to date AV software. Put another way – what is the "reward" for complying with security best practices, in terms of reduced update/rebooting requirements, drive space and personal delays? Answer; nothing. Why bother following security best practices and getting app compatibility sorted when you can just rely on Windows Update to carry the security responsibility? Windows Update is a vital technology – it's also a lazy technology that is postponing the day we get Limited Users by default. What is Microsoft doing in Windows 8 to bring that day closer? Apparently nothing.

    I'd like to see more granular control of what updates are automatically installed, in terms of severity gradings. This should be combined with updates that are specified with a dual severity tag, that indicates the severity for both admin users, and limited users. Example: using the severity levels; Low, Medium, Important, Critical, each update would get a pair of severity ratings, like Low/Medium, Important/Important, Medium/Critical. The administrator can then specify the minimum update severity rating for automatic install, and (optionally) flag/configure the system for LU accounts by default. The later option might result in reboots not being required every month, plus much reduced updating times and WinSxS file space. Security and convenience are often a trade-off, and users who "do the right thing" security-wise should see and be in control of the trade-off, where possible.

    Regarding 3rd-party updates, i agree this could be more than problematical to handle via WU, but again, is there not a case for a more granular approach? The case for general 3rd-party updating might not be strong, but what about *patching* of these apps? WU doesn't ever result in systems having a new major.minor OS version number, so why should 3rd-party apps be different in this regard? The concept of updating apps should be mentally split into two parts – 'upgrading' and 'patching', with each considered on its merits. IMO, any 3rd-party app update that consists (only) of bug fixes, security improvements, def updates or branding changes could or should be handled by WU. The current situation, where IT departments are locking 3rd-party updaters down and sticking to fixed version numbers for many months, regardless of the availablity of important security updates, simply to avoid users seeing updater popups, and when a perfectly functional updating system is built into the OS, is fairly absurd. So could MSFT consider allowing app vendors to post Windows Installer patches to Windows Update, and enabling app vendors to redirect app updates from their own updater to the local WU client? Presumably admins/IT departments could configure the specific updating level to one of (say) minorVer/patch/build number, as required. A "patch-only" model might be the best compromise between zero and total 3rd-party WU support.

    Quick points:

    1. The WU filtering mechanism should be extended beyond severity level to update types. Specifically, i'd like the option of filtering out all driver updates, or better – driver updates specified by device IDs. I also fully concur with the comments above @JRHeath.

    2. Update > reboot > sleep at login screen (with no auto-logon) is a great idea, regardless of fast boot times. This option should also be available via the Shutdown command.

    3. "Your PC will restart in 2/1 day(s) to finish installing updates" is too time-vague IMO. The restart time should be specified in hours, or at least in approximate hours. "Your PC will restart in XX minutes, YY seconds". I know this will win me the pendantic award, but could the time remaining only include seconds when below the 5-10 minute point?

    4. Comments regarding auto-login systems not seeing update notifications, such as @Chimel "For computers that run 24/7, the login screen and the lock screen are never seen" are making an important point. I have suggestion for this issue, but will leave it for another post (where it will make more sense).

  201. Klimax says:

    @Drewfus 19 Nov 2011 9:05 PM:

    We were there sort of already. Botnets like your idea. And granularity creates nicely more complex test matrix. Always have to balance, you can't have cake and eat it. (Assuming cake isn't a lie :) )

    @Stefan 19 Nov 2011 8:54 PM:

    Considering there will be always three types of people I higly doubt results of your actions. (also could be troll, but never atribute troll where explainable as <insert probable problem with poster>)

    @BSH 19 Nov 2011 4:41 PM:

    Missed several massive differenceies between those systems and Windows and applications for them including backwards compatibility. (just take a look here into archives of…/oldnewthing )

  202. prunoki says:

    When I have to restart my computer after an update, that I can understand. You should however really improve my possibilities to find the cause when an update fails to install. I cannot install Windows 7 Sp1 on my computer and after spending several hours to find a solution, I gave up.

  203. @Steven Sinofsky

    I have fantastic news for you – I've given Metro another try, and here's what I've found. I might actually be willing to accept this UI on my desktop if you tweak it enough. I admit now that I might not have given Metro a fair chance, and now that I have tried it again, it is surprisingly usable.

    My basic complaints outlined in "A List of Problems with Metro, and Redesign Recommendations" still stand, overall, but I admit that I am willing to give Metro a second chance – if the mouse UI is designed well enough, I might acutally be willing to try it. The Metro/Desktop split, however, may prove to be the one thing that ultimately holds me back from using the Metro UI – given the choice, I will ultimately end up using the UI that is the most compatible with the existing ecosystem of files and programs that I have, which is, of course, the desktop (for now, at least).

  204. @Steven Sinofsky

    Actually, I take back what I said in my last comment. The more I think about it, the less and less I like the idea of Metro. I'm sorry for wasting your time and taking up extra comment space with off-topic posts.

  205. noname says:

    Hehe, always funny this 567 troll. :D

  206. btriffles says:

    @Steven Sinofsky

    Yes, it sounds like I will have to put Windows Update in manual mode, just as I have for previous versions of Windows.  I was hoping to simplify maintenance for my personal PCs and enforce security for PCs I share with others, but I won't do so at the risk of data loss.  (From personal experience, it is extraordinarily frustrating to lose my work because Windows thought that rebooting was more important.)

    I suppose we just have a difference of opinion on the matter.  I believe that user control and data preservation is always more important than the risk of a potential security threat, but you think the potential threat is more important after 3 days.  I can understand the logic, even if I disagree with it.

    Regarding postponing, the user shouldn't ever have a false sense of security before the reboot unless the interface conveys the wrong message.  If the installation process implies security before the reboot, you should reword or change the presentation of the installation process.

  207. Stefan says:

    Windows Update still fails when installing 3.5SP1 on a Windows Vista x64 without any servicepack. I had contact with someone who was responsible for that but i don't remember his name. I guess he was involved in servicepacks for Vista. This is impossible to revert to. Most times Vista fails to restart. Running repair from the setup-dvd are a bit of gambling to; sometimes it works other not. This time, the first time for me, this repeir seems to be working. But i think the security upon update failure is too low…. Hope You fix this until Windows 9.

  208. Stefan says:

    @Klimax 19 Nov 2011 11:18 PM

    Did You mean i was a troll ? Then You are F wrong ! I have been using Windows a very long time, since NT4. I now run a company and need something that works and are fast to work with. MetroUI is pure BS.

  209. Stefan says:

    About 3rd party upgrades:

    None of Microsoft's business. There are several programs from 3rd party that fix that; some free some shareware. Use them.

  210. A comment on 'Windows Update Stand-alone Installer' files (.msu). These are currently named using the format Windows<Major.Minor>-KB*-%arch%.msu. This is not ideal, because it means the file names for any update are not unique across all SKUs. Just today i was reminded of the issue when i was failing to get an update installed and finally realised i was trying to install a server msu file on Win7. My mistake, of course, but unique names would avoid this problem entirely. I don't see how the kernel number is a more valid identifier than the OS name. My prefered naming scheme is:


    Ex: 8_X64-KB1234567.msu

    Version identifiers are listed @…/ff547089(v=vs.85).aspx

    I agree with comments about the uncertainty regarding "Installing update X of Y…" – especially when Y is a relatively large number. What are these updates? How long will this take? What errors (if any) have occured during the update process? Considering how long updates can take to install, it would be nice if more feedback were displayed during the update process. At least a verbose option should be available. During Windows setup, and when system images are being created/updated, verbose servicing activity should be displayed for the user, who is probably an administrator (by role). It is not always preferable to hide this system activity from the end user, especially considering that this could be hiding errors and warnings. Please consider making an option available to get more verbose feedback during Windows Update processing. At the very least, this would reduce the subjective time taken for updating to occur.

    Also, i want to support the issue raised @xpclient "the '/passive' switch which installed updates unattended on XP but while showing a progress bar is no longer supported, there are only the /quiet and /norestart options." Yes. Personally i would settle for an option to pipe logging activity to a command window, like for example, dpinst.exe supports with it's /C switch. Other want a progress bar, but either option would be better than nothing.

  211. the one says:

    Experience shows that:

    1) Not all updates are for the user's benefit: DRM crap etc. steal the users' resources to serve dubious business models, conduct surveylance, collect information, spy etc….

    and it takes a great deal of effort to intercept them.

    2) Most security updates are totally useless. Once the security bugs are discovered and patched, crooks and hackers instantly move to exploiting new ones. Updating windows is about as useful as patching the Titanic with Scotch tape. The fundamental design is incompetent and weak, 640,000 patches won't fix it.

    3) Updates often create new bugs. They are incompetent, cloogy and bloat the system until it is slower than molasis. The also fragment the system partition.

    4) System reboot bypasses ALL security. Any root-kit or virus that social engineers the end user to reboot the machine can take control of the system at will, long before Windows security comes up, thus…

    Conditioning end users to reboot the machine when prompted to do so is somewhat counter productive.


    Updates are IDIOTIC. Stop using your customers as Guinea Pigs for incomplete and untested products.

    Design and test the software properly in the first place, instead of trying to jump the market with GARBAGE.

    Keep the product SIMPLE (stupid)!!! Complexity causes exponential growth in unreliability!!!

    Updates that add code only make it worse.

  212. Klimax says:

    @Stefan 21 Nov 2011 12:50 AM:

    Way to read in what you think I wrote and miss…

  213. AaronG says:

    @Farzana @Steven Sinofsky

    "@btriffles — You could also just get notified that there are updates to install and manually install them when you are willing to.  This way you never have to worry about reboots when you don't explicitly begin the update process."

    Farzana above addresses a couple of points raised on this blog but I would say a major issue has been glossed over.  Unless you use the welcome screen or have updates to install automatically there is no way of knowing if there are updated to install.

    So your suggestion above to: “get notified that there are updates to install and manually install them” only works in certain situations.  Us that never logoff would need to manually check for updates.  How often do you suggest?  On the prescribed Day of the Month when updates normally come down, weekly, daily, what about critical out of schedule updates that are sometimes issued?

    For us users who don’t logoff and like to see what is being updated on our systems there is no useable update method.

  214. @the one

    You raise some interesting points, including:

    1. How generally effective are security updates in the short/medium/long-term?

    2. What is the propensity for updates to introduce new bugs and issues?

    3. How much bloat, fragmentation and system inefficiency do updates cause?

    4. To what extent do system reboots actually benefit malware writers?

    Adding to this is the ever-present problem of update installation errors, and how to resolve them.

    I would agree that people are far too uncritical about the benefits of Windows Update. Consider that when a security update is released, the vast majority of people installing it manually are implicity accepting that the security update does what Microsoft says it does – remove the security issue(s) without introducing new problems. So who is doing the independent verification?

    Where i differ from yourself is in regard to who to be critical of. I see this situation as a demand-side problem, not a supply-side problem. To explain by analogy; If i walked into a cafe and announced i was going to buy a double-shot expresso cappuccino every working day for the next near, i'm suggesting to that business that i can be regarded as a guaranteed customer. What reason would they then have to serve me anything better than instant coffee? Where deterministic demand exists, the only way to get quality goods or services is pay premium prices, and/or rely on the dedication/professionalism of the company and its staff.

    I'm not suggesting that the entirety of Windows Update amounts to "instant coffee" – but there is a case for the public to take a more critical cost/benefit approach to the whole subject. Part of the problem with that might be that if part of your job involves managing these updates, the incentive to be critical of the whole patching culture might be weak.

  215. @Drewfus

    "Consider that when a security update is released, the vast majority of people installing it manually are implicity accepting that the security update does what Microsoft says it does – remove the security issue(s) without introducing new problems. So who is doing the independent verification?"

    The answer is YOU. This is the reason why patch tuesday exists as well as the classification of patches into critical, important etc. It enables businesses to assess which patches to test now and which patches can be tested in slower time.

    Obviously most home users won't have the inclination or resources  to carry out a similar exercise each month. However in most cases the option is there if required as is the option to rollback the patch. Often the best option for most home users is to delay patching for a few days to see if any side effects have been reported. IMHO of course.