Microsoft Facing IT Manager Resistance to Automatic Windows 10 Updates

NEWS ANALYSIS: Business users of Windows 10 got the first response to their change.org petition demanding Microsoft give them more control over updates.

Windows 10 Update 2

Microsoft will start deploying its much anticipated fall 2015 Windows 10 update to computers around the world starting Nov. 10.

However, not every Windows 10 user is looking forward to the update. Many corporate and business users—particularly IT managers—are all concerned about the havoc that the update might wreak on the performance of their applications and computers.

Because of this concern, IT managers have been demanding changes from Microsoft. Those changes include the ability to delay updates until they can be tested and the ability to get detailed information as to what's in the update and exactly how it will affect Windows. Currently, updates to Windows include only a very brief description of what's being changed and why.

The concern has grown so strong that in October a consultant, Susan Bradley of Fresno, Calif., started a petition on change.org asking for that control and for better communication with Microsoft. Since the petition was begun in mid-October, it's gathered more than 5,000 signatures.

Microsoft responded in a blog post by Executive Vice President Terry Myerson explaining the existing options for upgrades and also revealing that, starting next year, Windows 10 would be installed on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 through the normal update process. At that point, it would be flagged as a "Recommended Update," which means that many, perhaps most, machines would then install the new operating system automatically.

In other words, you could sit down at your computer one morning and find yourself running Windows 10 unexpectedly. This prospect, as you might imagine, strikes fear into the hearts of IT managers. And it should.

Initially, Microsoft promised a version of Windows Update that would solve this problem. That version, Windows Update for Business was originally supposed to be released at the same time Windows 10 reached the market, but that hasn't happened.

Rumors have circulated that Windows Update for Business will be released along with the fall 2015 update. Assuming that happens, it should allow administrators to choose which upgrades to apply and when to apply them. However, Microsoft has not confirmed that this will actually happen.

What Microsoft has confirmed is that security updates will not be delayed by Windows Update for Business. You can still delay updates while you test them by simply not allowing the automatic install, but there's no guarantee that security updates will be delayed, even if they conflict with your applications.

The problem with pushed upgrades is that they don't give a chance to test the upgrade to make sure it works. This problem is bad enough for individual users who could find their computers are unusable for a day or two while they wait on hold for tech support, but for larger customers with vast numbers of custom applications, not to mention legacy hardware, to contend with, it can spell disaster.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...