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

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  • DanNeely - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Stop the presses. DailyTech has much better coverage of this than AnandTech does; all the old don't do anything until I tell you to options are still there.

  • jwcalla - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    This is one thing about Windows that just grates on me. And I just don't understand why Microsoft refuses to take it seriously.

    Package management and software and system updates are areas that Ubuntu does much better than Windows IMO.
  • RoboJ1M - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Agreed, there's certain things I can't stand about Windows now I've used Ubuntu at home.
    And I think by far my biggest gripe is the updates.

    I mean, sod restarts, how about EVERY SINGLE application requiring it's own personal in-RAM-with-status-icon update manager.

    So, every time you log in it takes 30 minutes to boot and a dozen balloons pop up telling you there is a new version of mickey-mouse-soft-7 out.

    Add to that trying to explain how to keep your machine up to date and secure to your parents and other people who aren't very computer literate. Then it's 5 hours of spam and malware cleaning because they haven't updated anything in 12 months.

    Ubuntu --> Click the update button. Updates done. Requires a restart maybe once a month.

    Though to be honest now that I've just stuck Ubuntu on my Dad's PC he still doesn't run the updates but I wrote him a manual and he can browse the web without it breaking every six months.

    *written from my Windows 7 machine with 19 updates that fail to install and roll back every morning I come into work* (apparently it's something to do with SQL Express)
  • niva - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    There are patch and kernel updates that do require restarts in linux as well, every 6 months you're getting a new rev too which require a total reinstall unless you're brave enough to attempt an upgrade or stick with an LTS.

    I'm using both windows and linux and frankly MS has gotten better over the years while linux has started having more of these issues. My guess is that we're at pretty much optimal state now.
  • gevorg - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    Great, add another feature to disable after installing fresh Windows. I hope it won't be like UAC hell in Vista.
  • brucek2 - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    I hate to say it, but these forced reboots are probably saving me in the long run, although that's not due to any fixes from Microsoft. My gut tells me the worst sources of security and stability issues on my system are all Flash. And the Adobe flash updater won't even notify you of an update except upon reboot -- which basically never happens any more, except due to these forced ones from Microsoft.

    Its bad enough those Flash guys deliver such horribly buggy software, but it really bugs me that as the provider of the software that most desperately needs frequent, real-time upgrades, they have one of the least sophisticated upgrade processes out there.
  • ET - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Hear hear. And if the internet connection isn't up yet when I okay the install it simply fails and another reboot is required.

    Frankly, I don't want reboots at all. I tend to postpone updates a lot because of them. If that option isn't available in Windows 8, that would be a step back for me. I had really hoped they'd get rid of the need to reboot.

    Then again, wasn't there something about reboots in Windows 8 restoring things to how they were? If that's the case then I can certainly live with them.
  • kjboughton - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    "Intalling" updates?

    Looks like MS needs to use a spell checker.
  • Shanevo - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I was wondering when somebody was going to see that. I hope that was a slide made by anandtech for the sake of this article and not a MS mistake.
  • Andrew.a.cunningham - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Bahaha, nope, that's all Microsoft. This is pre-release software, after all. :-)

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