With every new Windows release, Microsoft promises to reduce the number of times we'll have to restart our computers. Things have gradually gotten better - today, many program installations, driver updates, and Windows updates can be installed without restarting. Even so, Microsoft has again identified this process as an area where Windows could use improvement, as Microsoft's Farzana Rahman discusses on the Building Windows 8 blog today.

The improvements in Windows 8 aren't going to stop automatic restarts from happening; rather, Microsoft's goal is to make sure that the restarts that do happen are unobtrusive and predictable. First, all restarts will usually happen just once a month, after Patch Tuesday (with rare exceptions made for critical out-of-band security updates). Next, when your PC requires a restart, you'll have a three-day window in which to do so manually - a message on the log-in screen will let you know whether your system needs to be restarted. At the end of this three-day period, your computer will attempt to restart manually, but will not if a user is logged in and applications are running. In this case, users will get a warning that their system will restart in 15 minutes (similar to Windows' current behavior) but without the option to cancel the restart.

The default behaviors are meant to reduce the likelihood of data loss and user annoyance, while still making sure that computers are updated promptly. Enterprise administrators, as usual, can choose to leave these default behaviors in place, or can choose to enforce their own update schedule via Group Policy.

There's one last tidbit that may or may not interest you: at the end of the post, Rahman reiterates that Microsoft will not update third-party software through Windows Update, partly because Microsoft doesn't trust third parties not to break things - Microsoft doesn't want to "reduce trust in the system" by adding that additional layer of complexity. However, Metro apps, which will be screened by Microsoft upon their submission to Windows 8's app store, will all be updated through the store's unified updater. 

If you'd like to read more, you can get this information (and the customary pile of user data that led to these decisions) over at the Building Windows 8 blog.

Source: Building Windows 8 Blog

Comments Locked


View All Comments

  • LoupeGarou - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    ROFLMAO....pointy hair...
  • niva - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Death to the pointy haired bosses!
  • Ammaross - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Fail. You missed the reason it takes 20 minutes. It doesn't take 20 minutes to reboot and load windows, but it takes 20 minutes to reopen all the programs, log into various systems, open up remote windows, reopen browser windows to pages you were using for reference et al.

    It's the same reason I don't reboot except when absolutely necessary.
  • icrf - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    I was the same way at the last job, but less so at the new one (SSD on proper desktop workstation vs HDD on workstation laptop, and less disparate things to open up to work on at once).

    To all the doubters, when you have better than half a dozen different projects to get up and running that you flip between depending on who's yelling the loudest, reboots can _really_ suck.
  • dustwalker13 - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    reboot at the end of day.

    your station has all night for the post install and restart then.

    tweaking the preloaded services, add a drop of autostart and grab a nice cup of coffee after authentication at login in the morning. that should do the trick once a month even with an old style sluggish hdd.
  • name99 - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    This is a silly comment, and he has a valid point.

    As always, MS needs to look to Apple for what to copy next. With Lion, Apple tries really hard to save app state across reboots, so that a reboot will restart all the apps that were running at shutdown, with the documents they had open.

    It's not perfect, to be sure, and the two current worst culprits are Apple's own apps:
    - iTunes appears to save no state regarding info like what playlist you currently had selected, and what song was playing. But we all know iTunes (for reasons no-one outside Apple can understand) is programmed by a crack team of C-List programmers that Apple recruits from the worst performing community college CS programs across the nation, so that's no surprise.

    - Safari has a more difficult job. It does acceptably at re-opening all windows that were open, with all their tabs, and with minimized windows still minimized. BUT it does not remember the scrolling location of pages, and it does not remember your position in multi-media. (This might be hard to impossible for flash, but should be possible and not hard for "pure" media like h264 files.)

    However, imperfect as it is, it works really really nicely.
    I used to put off installing updates for days or weeks because it was just such a hassle to restart all the apps after a reboot, but now it doesn't phase me at all because my experience has been that the system works. The only minor hassles will be, as I said
    - losing some minor state in iTunes
    - having to rescroll if there were some pages I was part way down
    - losing my place in web video (rare, but irritating when it happens)

    This isn't meant to be (only) a rah-rah Apple post. MS clearly (unlike some commenters) appreciates that there is a real problem here and are doing what they can to fix it, but apparently have concluded that copying what Lion does is just too ambitious for Win 8 (so presumably will arrive in either Win8 Sp1 or Win9).
  • B3an - Wednesday, November 16, 2011 - link

    The last thing MS need to do is copy Apple. OSX is vastly inferior. But as for copying Apple... It's often the other way around, all Lion does is play catch up to things Windows has had for years. Some things over a decade (full screen apps). Or even copying Windows with how the buttons look now (square with slight rounded corners).

    And since Vista, Windows has had a feature to save all current software states that are open, but the software needs to support the feature. So once again Apple are copying Windows with Lion. I'm sure by the time Win 8 is out Apple will have ripped off a ton of it's features with small updates to OSX. Just like they have done in the past when MS demo stuff many months before release.
  • Exodite - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    A good question would be why we have to restart our computers at all in the year 2012.

    It's not as if unloading and replacing even the kernel itself is some sort of unimaginable witchcraft.
  • FaaR - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Try a SSD as your system disk. Windows Update patching is tremendously faster this way, and system shutdowns/restarts are of course a lot faster as well.

    Not to mention all the other stuff that's also vastly accelerated by a SSD, and all this to a much lower cost than a full replacement PC system.
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Yeah, rebooting at work really s*cks. However, I just set Win 7 to "automatically download and manually install updates", so the nagging about needed a reboot starts only after I press the "update now" button. Works OK for me.


Log in

Don't have an account? Sign up now