Why The New Microsoft Update Process is Working Better Than Anyone Hoped

Posted on Nov 06, 2015

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Despite the concerted efforts by Apple and Google fan-bloggers, it is becoming increasingly obvious that the Windows 10 has brought Microsoft back from the brink. With an estimated 120 million machines now running the latest version of Windows, it seems that Satya Nadela’s target of 1 billion devices in three years was quite a conservative goal to begin with. What is even more astounding is that if a recent survey commissioned by network monitoring company Spiceworks is to be believed, enterprise adoption of Windows 10 is advancing much quicker than anyone hoped and currently stands at around 11% of enterprise environments, and almost double that percentage among ICT enterprises.[1]

Why all the negative online press then?

It’s quite simple really – different types of end users have different expectations and attitudes to change. When Windows 10 started to roll out, it was the Insiders and early adopters who jumped at the chance to “Reserve” their upgrade. Event though there is no longer a need to “Reserve” an the upgrade, Microsoft is still prompting Windows 7 and 8.1 users with the “Option” to move to Windows 10; and in line with a recent announcement that triggered some mixed responses from the online community – they are about to become a whole lot more aggressive in getting legacy customers to move to the new OS. Basically, from early next year, Windows 10 will become a “Recommended” update distributed to the Windows Update center – meaning if you have your Update settings set to auto, the OS will be downloaded and you will receive a Yes or No prompt asking you whether to install Windows 10 – to quote Microsoft:

Early next year, we expect to be re-categorizing Windows 10 as a “Recommended Update”. Depending upon your Windows Update settings, this may cause the upgrade process to automatically initiate on your device. Before the upgrade changes the OS of your device, you will be clearly prompted to choose whether or not to continue. And of course, if you choose to upgrade (our recommendation!), then you will have 31 days to roll back to your previous Windows version if you don’t love it.[2]

The most important thing from the statement above that can serve to alleviate the majority of concerns people have regarding the quality of Windows 10 and issues regarding change management within organizations is that users have a change to revert to their previous version of Windows within 31 days – Microsoft does this by keeping the previous copy on the hard drive in case unexpected issues arise. However, since Windows 10 is in fact proving itself to be most of the things Microsoft claims it is – this can be interpreted in fact as a stopgap measure in case of driver issues or other dependencies, but mostly as a way of managing the expectations of legacy users.

Are Automatic Updates in Windows 10 really an issue to worry about?

The whole Automatic Update process that is in place with the latest version of Windows, has been highly contested because of concerns over data limits and metered connections, however it is important to point out that this practice is how both Apple and Google have been serving updates for iOS and Android respectively for quite some time now. In fact, the option to delay an update until a user is on an non-metered is still there and even though Microsoft strongly discourages users to disable automatic updates, they tried to address these types of criticism by including data usage quotas and monitoring by applications. If an update contains a security fix for an important issue, the update will in fact be downloaded as soon as it becomes available – for enterprise Windows 10 users, system administrators are the ones who determine the update schedule and since security is a top priority for mission critical IT, it can be argued that Automatic Updates is an advantage rather than a pain point.[3]

What to expect from the Windows 10 Fall Update

For customers who are already running Windows 10 the Fall Update which is coming in November, will be distributed in the now standard way via Windows Update. Since this is the first major update of what Microsoft calls “Threshold 2”, enterprise clients who are considering upgrading to Windows 10, might want to wait until it is released since it all subsequent upgrades from Windows  will have this baked right in. Those that are already running the newest OS will get it immediately since it is considered to be the same distribution as a security update. This means that the process should be seamless via the Windows Update center where it will be named as “Windows 10 November 2015”.[4]

According to the announcement from Microsoft the Windows 10 Fall Update will be a cumulative one, providing additional locales, and improved Media Creation Tool, updates to Cortana and to Microsoft’s new Edge browser.

[1] Spiceworks , Windows 10: Who’s using it 10 weeks after launch?, 19 October 2015

[2]Terry Myerson, Making it Easier to Upgrade to Windows 10, James Statten, 29 October, 2015

[3] VentureBeat, Microsoft stops automatic Windows 10 upgrades, says default checked update was ‘a mistake’
, Updated: 15 October, 2015

[4] How-to Geek, What’s New in Windows 10’s First Big Update, the “Windows 10 Fall Update”

[5] Thurrott, Windows 10 and Automatic Updates, 27 July, 2015