Windows 8 Looks to Ditch the "Zombie" Security Restarts of Windows 7
November 15, 2011 4:38 PM
comment(s) - last by
Windows 8's Automatic Update will now always give you time to save and won't interrupt your gaming/movies
It's 3 a.m.; do you know what your PC is doing? Well, if it's a Windows 7 machine, it may be in the process of automatically restarting. Microsoft pushes out security updates the second Tuesday of each month, but other critical updates can land at off times. For those who forgot to save their work the evening before, they are often in for the rude surprise.
I. Windows Update Automatic Mode -- Boon to Security, Bane to an Unlucky Few
blog, Microsoft Corp. (
) engineer Farzana Rahman, writing with Windows Division President Steven Sinofsky, explains how Microsoft hopes to eliminate this problem in the upcoming Windows 8 release.
Automatic updates are a very important thing as they allow Microsoft to deliver important trusted content like security patches that a user might never go out and install on their own. With over a billion Windows PCs in the wild, Microsoft is under an immense amount of security risk, risk that is mitigated by the Automatic Update program.
Ms. Rahman shares 89.3 percent of Windows users opt to use automatic update. She comments, "That’s 90% of the total user base telling us to automatically install updates without showing any notifications, or asking for confirmation."
That might not be entirely accurate -- a lot of users simply don't understand what exactly auto update is and what the ramifications of turning it on and off are. But the important message is that a lot of people have Automatic Update turned on -- whether or not they know it.
The benefit is seen in Microsoft's metrics for one important update, which showed -- despite internet connection variability -- 85 percent of users downloading and installing the update within three days. A three-day turnaround means that Microsoft can quickly target malware threats and be guaranteed that its actions will take effect across a large amount of its installs.
Install rate v. days for a critical patch. [Image Source: Microsoft]
Interestingly, Microsoft indicates that while 31 percent of updates in computers with Windows Automatic Update turned on are installed interactively, the majority of users instead rely on shutdowns.
Microsoft says the "best case" scenario occurs in the 39 percent of updates that install alongside user shutdowns. Microsoft has tried to squeeze its updates in this Windows. Ms. Rahman writes, "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."
II. Toning Down the Auto Reboots
To remedy this Microsoft is making some important changes to Windows Update Automatic (WU Auto) with Windows 8.
Time to Save Your Work
WU Auto will now only restart your locked machine after you log in, preventing restarts on locked machines overnight
WU Auto will now give you a big message on login informing you that you have 15 minutes to save your work.
If programs are running (active use) and you're logged in when the restart order rolls in, you will be given the same message.
No Interruption to Media
In presentation mode
Watching a fullscreen movie
Playing a game
Your machine won't attempt the restart until you're done.
An important issue not really explained here is whether third-party movie players (in fullscreen mode) are supported, and similarly whether third-party slide presentation software (like Open Office Impress) will be caught by this check.
Less Updates and New Login Warnings
The auto restart is now changed to once a month, barring critical security updates. Important stability updates and their ilk will no longer force restarts at other times of the month.
The update day, as always is the second Tuesday of the month and the time is 3 a.m. in the user's selected time zone.
For users with WU Auto enabled, you'll now be informed by a message at the bottom right corner of the login screen how many days remain until the big shutdown and restart day.
These users will see a message that reads "Your PC will restart in [X] days to finish installing security updates."
For users with WU Auto disabled, you'll get similar messages, instead informing you about whether you need to download or install important updates. For these users -- who represent roughly 5.82 percent of the total Windows 7 install base, a message "Important updates are ready to be installed." will display.
Clicking the power button beneath the message for either WU Auto on or off, allows the user to manually choose "Update and shut down" or "Update and restart".
Lastly IT administrators who disable WU Auto for their enterprise users, will now have their users presented with a "Your PC needs to restart to finish installing security updates." message on the login screen. The users are offered equivalent options to the home users via a power button.
In Win. 7's implementation of Windows Update, you can actually turn off automatic restarts by:
Clicking the Windows button
Typing "regedit" in the search bar
Navigating to "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU"
Selecting to creat a new 32-bit DWORD value named "NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers"
Set the new variable to 1.
However, Windows Update's automatic restarts are a natural and (relatively) healthy process that prevents user procrastination from crippling the security of the Windows platform. With its changes, Microsoft appears to be on the right track to making WU's "Automatic" less destructive when it comes to forced restarts.
To the end user that means less headaches and more peace of mind.
III. What About the Third Parties?
Ms. Rahman also tossed in an interesting note in the conclusion, stating that some customers have expressed interest in programs (e.g. games, etc.) having the chance to send users patches via Windows Update. She comments that this isn't feasible because of the risk of sacrificing the trust of WU if a destructive update (be it unintentional or intentional) slipped through.
[U]sers 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.
This seems like a smart line of thinking. Some updates -- like
a recent AntiVir Guard update
-- have had unintended destructive effects on Windows machines. The last thing Microsoft needs -- given the already precarious position of being the world's biggest OS maker and hence the world's biggest target -- is to be blamed for the issues caused by negligent third-parties, which would be the likely scenario if Windows Update delivered the offending patch.
On the other hand, she points out that Microsoft's upcoming Windows Store -- which will deliver Metro styled apps in Windows 8, similar to App Store in OS X -- will offer developers that ability to send out automatic updates. The key here, appears to be that Microsoft is happy to provide developers with a sound update framework; they just want to keep it separated from the base operating system updates for reputation and trust purposes.
pops up in 2012
and will be the first Windows operating system refined for multi-touch tablets. Thus far
the beta program
has been a big success, like its Windows 7 predecessor.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
11/17/2011 8:33:41 AM
Am I the only one here who has never encoutered this Problem?
Not once has my Windows machine restarted without my consent, I have been "Reminded" that I have to restart the machine for the changes to take effect, but it has never restarted automaticaly without informing me that it will do so before I start the Update process i.e.when installing a Service Pack.
"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Quick Note: Windows 8 Developer Preview Already Tops 500,000 Downloads
September 14, 2011, 6:08 PM
Ballmer: Windows 8 Will Land in 2012, Pop up in Tablets
May 24, 2011, 2:49 PM
AVG Update Cripples Users' Windows 7, Vista Computers
December 3, 2010, 10:28 AM
Amazon to Launch "Kindle Worlds" for Fan Fiction Writers
May 22, 2013, 12:00 PM
EA Dev: Nintendo is "the Walking Dead"; Wii U is "Crap"
May 20, 2013, 11:27 AM
Sony Officially Announces Gran Turismo 6
May 16, 2013, 10:24 AM
Windows 8.1 Will Be Free; Microsoft Holds Onto Struggling ARM Variant
May 14, 2013, 2:57 PM
Report: 59 Million Windows 8 Devices Have Been Activated Since Launch
May 13, 2013, 3:33 PM
Quick Note: Windows 8.1 Public Preview Coming in June
May 7, 2013, 6:32 PM
Most Popular Articles
High School Student Creates Storage Device that Can Charge in 20 Seconds
May 20, 2013, 6:51 AM
Google Announces "Pure" Galaxy Nexus S4 for $649, Android Updates
May 15, 2013, 1:42 PM
Seawater Cooling Saves Data Center Big Bucks, Energy, Despite Jellyfish Issues
May 17, 2013, 3:23 PM
U.S. Federal Traffic Board Wants to Make Drunk Driving Threshold Far Harsher
May 15, 2013, 11:32 AM
Newegg Legal Chief: "We don't Feed the Trolls"; Defeats Bell Lab Shell Comp.
May 17, 2013, 10:11 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Quick Note: Sony "Teases" PS4 Ahead of Xbox Reveal in New Video
May 20, 2013, 12:33 PM
Nokia Introduces Instagram-Like App of Its Own to Help Lumia Sales
May 20, 2013, 7:10 AM
Parents of Pre-Teen Drivers Commonly Practice Distracted Driving Says Study
May 9, 2013, 7:16 AM
Apple's iOS 7 Running Into Internal Delays Due to Massive Overhaul
May 1, 2013, 4:26 PM
Elon Musk Willing to Spend More Money on Widening of 405 Freeway
Apr 26, 2013, 7:28 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2013 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information