Microsoft is planning a revised Windows Update process for Windows 8.
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 official "Building Windows 8" 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 tile-centric interface.
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 change.
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.