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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  • InternetGeek - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    The two biggest offenders in terms of re-starts, at least within my own limited scope, are iTunes and Adobe. Both require re-starts for simple updates (i.e.: New safari? here's your re-start) while they could just re-start the services they rely on. I stopped using Norton Antivirus or Trendmicro after security essentials came out but I do remember Trendmicro was asking for restarts. Reply
  • MrSpadge - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Acrobat Pro is such a b*tch regarding rebooting. For every single small update it wants one. And it wouldn't even do regular Reader updates while it's waiting for a restart. And Adobe doesn't release "point releases", so every time it's installed new on some PC it needs a dozen reboots until it's ready to use. Just plain ridiculous.

    MrS
    Reply
  • GTVic - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Installing Acrobat without a reboot is not an issue. Adobe turns on the reboot requirement by default but it is not needed.

    Please turn in your IT badge and pocket protector.
    Reply
  • Ammaross - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    Adobe only needs a reboot if you leave Internet Explorer (or an Adobe program) open. Close your browser before it starts the install and you're fine, and won't even get the reboot prompt. Reply
  • DanNeely - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    For the amount of time I lose every year at work on these it would be cheaper to buy me two computers and just swap my profile from one to the second so I could resume work ona fully patched and restarted #2 while #1 grinds through the restart. IF this isn't overridable on home user systems I think I've found my first reason to stick to w7. Reply
  • Omoronovo - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    If you haven't found 3 minutes to reboot after 3 days of warnings (and after already knowing in most cases exactly what day updates get pushed out), you may want to consider getting a second machine anyway - you're obviously a cyborg from the future who doesn't eat or sleep.

    Or you could just use group policy like the article stated.
    Reply
  • dubyadubya - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    You can use group policy editor if you have W8 Pro or Ultimate as HP and basic do not have group policy editor, at least windows 7 and prior don't. This could change in W8 but I doubt it. Reply
  • mpschan - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    To get all my applications up and running at work, a reboot can seriously take me 20 minutes to get back to productive work. Granted, I'm a developer and getting things like my IDE and servers up and running can take some time, but reboots really are a pain. Reply
  • Iketh - Monday, November 14, 2011 - link

    You and the OP just need an SSD. In your positions, how have you not experienced one yet? Reply
  • DanNeely - Tuesday, November 15, 2011 - link

    I have one at home. At work the bean counters have pointy hair. Reply

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