Microsoft's Windows 8 will feature a revamped Windows Update keyed to Patch Tuesday, in yet another bid to streamline the "Windows experience" for users.
Microsoft is planning a revised Windows Update process for
Specifically, the company plans for its next-generation
operating system to consolidate all updates that necessitate a restart into a
single event synchronized with the monthly Patch Tuesday.
"This means that your PC will only restart when security
updates are installed and require a restart," read a note posted on Microsoft's
blog. "With this improvement, it does not matter when updates
that require restarts are released in a month, since these restarts will wait
till the security release."
Microsoft will make an exception, and push through an
update, in the event of a worm or other major security issue. Windows 8 will
also offer an automatic start notification, with three days' lead time before
it takes effect. Within the enterprise, IT administrators can set policies "to
prevent auto-restart after automatic installs (just as in Windows 7)."
Windows 8's version of Windows Update will also not update
third-party applications, although Microsoft plans on offering the ability to
automatically update its products and third-party device drivers. In the latter
case, "all of these updates are carefully screened, and must adhere to the
Windows conventions for updates regarding rollback and recovery, and overall
system impact." That being said, the upcoming Windows Store will integrate a mechanism
"to help ensure apps are maintained in a consistent manner," at least if the
apps in question are the Metro-style ones that cooperate with Windows 8's new
In a bid to capture the tablet market, Windows 8 offers two
distinct experiences to users: the colorful and touch-centric tiles of its
"Metro-style" interface, which link to applications, and the more traditional
desktop interface. Tablet users will presumably rely mostly on the former,
while those with desktops and laptops might bypass it entirely in favor of a
more "old-fashioned" Windows experience. In this bifurcated manner, Microsoft
hopes to challenge the iPad and other competitors in the tablet arena, while
appealing to its base of current users who don't necessarily want a radical
But whether Windows can be all things to all users remains
to be seen. Over the past few months, Microsoft executives have touted how
Windows 8 will offer a "no compromises" operating system. Nonetheless, at some
point all software inevitably runs head-on into the demands and challenges of
the real world.
However Windows 8 turns out, Microsoft hopes its revised
policies with Windows Update will make things a little less annoying for users
who dislike restarting their systems.
Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter