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Will Microsoft Stop Forcing Windows 10 Updates?

Question: Is Microsoft done sneaking through forced upgrades to windows 10?

This is a question I received during a recent Facebook Live video session.

I think it captures the ongoing frustration that so many people, including myself, feel when it comes to Windows 10 updates and how they’re handled.

For better or for worse, the answer is actually very simple.

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No, Microsoft will not be changing their approach to updating Windows 10 any time soon.

While I’m certain they’re being heard, there’s no sign that ongoing complaints about Windows 10 updates are being acted on at all. As far as anyone can tell, it’s full steam ahead on continued updates, required updates, and the lack of control over updates.

And while I absolutely believe that the vast majority of people should be taking all updates, always, I do believe there are good reasons to give us control over which updates are installed, and when.

You know, kind of like how it was in Windows 7 days.

Required updates

Honestly, “required” updates aren’t actually new. In prior versions of Windows, you needed to have your installation updated to a specific point before further updates would be applied. Typically, that point was a specific service pack. For example, at some point you’d need to have service pack 1 installed to continue to receive further updates.

Windows UpdateWindows 10 doesn’t use the concept of “service packs”, but given the branding they’ve been using on major updates of late — for example, the “Creator’s Update” — it’s safe to say they’re pretty comparable to the service packs of old.

I fully expect that at some point, you’ll have to have Windows 10 updated to the “Creator’s Update” or better in order to continue to receive any further updates at all.

Given that those further updates often involve important bug- and security-related fixes that you want, getting that update pretty much becomes a requirement to continue to safely use Windows 10.

Is it sneaky if they told you they would do this?

As I said, there’s frustration around the lack of transparency and lack of control individuals have over Windows 10 updates.

But I don’t consider it “sneaky”, or that they’re “sneaking in” updates. Microsoft has been pretty clear that updates will continue happen, and that we’re not given the control we might want. That’s not sneaky; that’s just living up to what they promised.

Even if we don’t like it.

Honestly, the sneakiest update-related thing they did was the whole Windows 10 upgrade process itself, and that was software that was snuck into Windows 7 and Windows 8!

Upgrades will continue until morale improves

The most pragmatic approach I can recommend is to resign yourself to knowing what you can and cannot control, and then making the choice to either live with that or move to another operating system. I know it sounds harsh, but you and I aren’t going to change Microsoft’s mind. After all this time, it’s pretty clear Microsoft intends to continue this practice, so complaining and expecting them to change their minds about something this fundamental feels to me like a futile waste of energy.

To me, the most important part of “living with it” is making sure to back up regularly, so that in the unlikely event an update does something improper, you have something you can roll back to.

And, honestly, unless you have specific knowledge about a specific update causing a problem, taking all updates really is the right thing to do.

Voting with your feet

I know this aspect of Windows has many people upset and talking about switching to other operating systems. Believe it or not, Windows — even Windows 10 — still fares well in comparison to the alternatives.

Linux: Most distributions are updated constantly. For example, every couple of days I check in on my Linux Mint machine, and every couple of days it seems there’s yet another handful of updates to be applied. Where Linux shines, of course, is in transparency. Whatever the change, you can dive as deeply as you like to understand exactly what changes were made and why. Oh, and plan on upgrading your OS to a new version at least every five years, since that seems to be the maximum support duration for most major distributions.

MacOS and iOS: Apple has never won awards for transparency, particularly when it comes to OS updates. While less frequent, perhaps, it’s rare to get details about exactly what is being fixed, or why.

Android: Perhaps the worst of all in some ways, applications are constantly updating, and OS updates are often obscured behind a vendor-specific layer that seems to make it nearly impossible to understand exactly what’s being fixed and why.

I’d love to be wrong about some of these, but this represents my understanding as well as my personal experience.

In comparison, Microsoft’s approach may not look quite as bad.

But they could all be much, much better.

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41 comments on “Will Microsoft Stop Forcing Windows 10 Updates?”

  1. As of 5/5 with reference to How Do I Fix Windows Update? We were able to update version 1703 and build 15063.
    I never thought that updating was stopped until it was pointed out by Leo.
    Thank you, Leo.

  2. One reason I believe Microsoft gave away Windows 10 and forces updates on people is that they save a lot of money by doing so. For years MS has been supporting three or more OSes multiplied by different versions (home, pro, enterprise etc) of that OS at a time. With free and forced updates, they can significantly reduce the number of OSes they are supporting. Considering how few people upgrade, it probably more than makes up for the loss of upgrade revenue.

  3. Surely, you can stop Microsoft from forcing updates to Windows 10, by going to “Services”, scrolling down to “Windows Update”, right-clicking on it, the “Properties” then “Stop”, then changing “Startup type” to “Disabled” ?

    Or am I mistaken? Anybody know??

    • Even if you did, I find my settings for WU in Windows 7 changed to automatic every few updates and I hope that reinstalling GWX Control Panel will help me notice that. Honestly, you still have to wait a day or three sometimes to find out from the real world whet the rollups may have done to others. You haven’t got that luxury as far as I know. And there are still people asking how to go back to 7 at least on Microsoft Answers.

      If anything, the new process only makes people a bit more paranoid when something goes awry and they pull back. Nobody is willing to change if they have no clue what’s going on and they can easily mistake another problem as being Microsoft’s fault. Just pushing things forward with no control or information is a bad strategy.

  4. I’m surprised Leo you don’t even suggest what I do, for a far more stable system. It is actually very easy to disable Windows Updates in Windows 10, just disable the service in services.msc. Then every few months I enable it again, and do a bulk update of every one available. This way there is less chance of an update doing any harm, as they’re not being checked for and installed so regularly. I really don’t believe not having an update immediately on its release is going to be the end of the world.

    • Great minds think alike Carl! You must have been writing this at the same time as my comment. Thanks, it’s good to know that you’re thinking the same as me

    • Actually the update released just today does fall into that category – you want it, and you want it now. (The Windows Defender zero day.)

  5. I’m not sure the question you answered was the question that was asked. The inquiry was “Is Microsoft done sneaking through forced upgrades to windows 10?” To me that means trying to get people to upgrade to Win10 from Win7 or Win8 as was done earlier. “Updates” to existing an software version are not the same in my mind as “upgrades” from a one operating software to a different one. Being forced or coerced into doing either one is wrong but having to change from one operating system to another is at a higher level of disregard for users.

    • This article is referring to major upgrades, not updates which mainly address security issues and bugs. MS has just released the Creators Update which is similar to a new version of Windows which introduced new features and changes to existing features.

  6. Is “Windows 10 S” strictly limited to Microsoft’s Surface computer or can I expect to see it as an update to my desktop computer?

    • Windows 10 S is a highly scaled back OS made to compete with Google’s Chromebook. So it won’t be an update to Windows 10.

    • I would not expect it as an “update” – it’s more like an alternative edition like Home, Pro, Enterprise … and S. And I do expect to see it offered more generally.

  7. Even though I don’t like the forced updates I think they are a good idea! I just endured one today. I didn’t want to have to wait for it to end: I wanted to use my computer right away. On the other hand, the entire process only took around 15 minutes and I now know that my system is completely updated and likely much safer from malware and viruses. Thinking back to the old days when I used to put off updating until I literally had hundreds of pending updates (and no doubt regularly put myself at risk), this approach makes a lot more sense.

    Windows 10 is such a powerful, useful and easy-to-use system that I find the forced updates to be a small price to pay!

  8. In Nov 2016 I moved to Texas from NC, this PC Win 10, I brought with me, a semi-gaming machine {no, i’m not a gamer} never had any interest in that kind of software ….came with me. It crashed in Feb after having rebooted during the night and had a blank screen. It has taken me this long to restore the thing back to the Win 10 software with the aid of Carbonite and about 10 reloads of the software. Thank goodness i had the 5×5 code for win 10. However, the poor thing still has the hiccups and hangs up and the MS mouse just stops doing anything for up to 5 minutes and then it works again. Anyone familiar with that problem?

  9. Will Microsoft Stop Forcing Windows 10 Updates? Of course not. I hate it, that is one reason why I won’t use Windows 10 in the foreseeable future.

    However, if you know the way, it is actually not difficult to completely disable Windows Update in Windows 10 so that you won’t be bothered with forced updates.

    (1) Disable the Windows Update service, as Carl said above. (Works on Home / Pro / Enterprise / LTSB)
    (2) If your version of Windows 10 contains the Group Policy Editor (Pro / Enterprise / LTSB), you can use it to disable Windows Update.
    Computer Configuration -> Administrative Templates -> Windows Components -> Windows Update -> Configure Automatic Updates
    Set it to “Disabled”. Then Windows 10 will not check for updates itself.

    For option (2), you can use WUShowHide (a Microsoft supplied tool), that will, when run, allow you to check for updates without installing them. You can hide the updates you don’t want in WUShowHide. After that, when you instruct Windows Update to check for updates, it will only install the updates that are left unhidden in WUShowHide. In this way you can gain complete control of the update process. This works in Windows 10 1507 / 1511 / 1607 at least.

    The above is by no means an endorsement of Windows 10 from me. In my opinion Microsoft should give me back the option to control updates in Windows 10, like I am able to do in Windows XP / Vista / 7 / 8.1.

    About the “Windows Defender Zero Day”. Yeah, Microsoft did patch it quickly, but it is what it should do so I don’t believe it warrants any praise. Don’t forget, it is Microsoft which left such a giant security hole in Windows (all the way from Vista to Windows 10) in the first place!

    • As I said, bugs are inevitable. Your suggestion of disabling Windows Update would leave you vulnerable to the zero day, hence there’s no way I can recommend anyone do that.

      • Leo, are you suggesting that just because I chose to disable Windows Update then I won’t install any security updates myself?

        If you are talking about the Windows Defender Zero Day, no, it has no relation whatsoever to the status of Windows Update. You can still obtain Windows Defender updates manually by checking for updates in Windows Defender even when Windows Update is disabled.

        Or is it some other “zero day” you are talking about?

        I disabled Windows Update in ALL my machines running Windows 7 / Windows 8.1 / Windows 10 (10 in VM testing only). But I do install security updates manually myself. In Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, I download the “Security only” updates from the Microsoft Update Catalog (for May 2017 it is KB4019263 (Windows 7) and KB4019213 (Windows 8.1)). These updates will be installed once I am satisfied they won’t cause problems with my systems, meaning I will usually wait some weeks before Woody Leonhard says it is safe to install them on his AskWoody site.

        As to the widespread ransomware attack “WannaCry”, the security hole was fixed in the March 2017 patches (the corresponding Security only updates are KB4012212 for Windows 7 and KB4012213 for Windows 8.1). I installed them at the end of March so hopefully I am immune to this problem.

        The reason I disabled Windows Update is to gain complete control over the update process so that I can patch according to my timetable, and NOT Microsoft’s. It certainly does not mean I don’t install security updates. I don’t care if you don’t recommend my approach. It is not for non-techies anyway. I am just saying that if you want to disable Windows Update to gain control over the update process it is certainly doable, even in Windows 10, although I will want the same control in the Windows Update program itself and not to go through the Group Policy editor.

        • That’s great that you’re doing so manually. And, yes, I really, really, REALLY wish that Microsoft would allow us finer control over what’s happening on our machines.

          But they don’t. It is what is it.

          For the vast majority of people having Windows Update on and automatic is critical to their security.

    • I used to have windows7 when I first bought my FujitsuLifebook a number of years ago. Then I had a stroke, and a number of acquaintances dabbled in my laptop while I was “out of it” putting me in the position of having to decide to have my computer “cleaned” when I came home from the hospital t was ready to use it myself again. When I started it up again and tried to use Word, I discovered I now had Windows 2010, it says, and it tells me I have a pirated version of Word! When I first started working with it again, the cursor worked, and so did the pen. It even let me set up handwriting recognition. It worked for a while day! Then it wouldn’t respond to let me save and shutdown. Same the next day and ever since! I’m very frustated!

  10. Why is no one including the simple topic that Windows OS is not really your property but only a rental service that you dearly paid for but cannot control. But the fact that MS couldn’t care less that every update will cost you more money is total disrespect. I have a limited internet paid service of 25 Gb per month and the day I turned on my new Win 10 machine, the first update cost me 6.6 Gb of internet bandwidth. That’s almost one quarter of my monthly allowance. Yes I tried staying away from an ethernet wired connection and disabled updates but now every time I turn on my machine I’m terrified I’ll lose more internet time.

    • There is a setting in WIFI where you turn on metered connection. Windows will not download until you turn that off. I have 10 gig of data for month and a large update will burn it up quickly. My Internet service has special times with unmrered time, so I turn off metered and update during those times. No surprises.

    • You are right. So many people have unlimited access now that it’s not being taken into consideration. The solutions are very few. Mac and Linux also update frequently and regularly as well.

      • I think one reason why people have a hard time with Windows updates and not with Linux is that a Linux update happens quietly in the background and from my experience has never required a restart to take effect. A Windows update not only requires an restart, but will often restart when you are doing something important. I can’t understand why they don’t just give you a nag warning like they used to do with Windows 7. Microsoft needs to hire some program designers who understand how people actually use their computers. I don’t know how Mac handles their updates, but from all I’ve heard, they understand what people want and need..

        • There are occasional Linux updates that require a reboot, but indeed, it’s rare.

          Macs nag, but let you say “not now, later” and shut up for a day or so.

        • The problem with Windows 10 updates is not just that they can be slow and intrusive. Often they are destructive. They can change the way the OS looks and works, morphing it into an unfamiliar product. They can reset your configurations and they can cause applications to stop working. And no one really know what’s being downloaded, why and when. A scary consideration is that there will come a time when after an update the entire OS will stop working because the OS has outstripped your computer’s capabilities and/or resources – with no warning. It’s a matter of time.

          • I had something similar to your last scenario with a 7 year old machine, but it’s not a sudden freeze up. Programs begin to get more an more “not responding” messages. I doubled my RAM to 8 GB and it works reasonable fast now. When I have some time, I plan to put in an SSD. I’ll probably get a couple more years out of it and then put Lubuntu or something on it.

          • Update 2 years later. I installed an SSD in that machine and now it runs as fast as many new machines.

  11. I’m not sure how often these comment sections are monitored, so I’m reposting a question I left on the older article “Get the Windows 10 Creators Update Now”. Apologies if improper (still appropriate for this article), but I wanted visibility…

    Ever since updating my machine (HP Pavilion) with the Creators Update, I’ve noticed windows popping into and out of existence occasionally. Terminal windows, I think; they’re not fully rendered before they’re closed. Anyone else experience this?

      • Yes, thank you, I know about direct questions. I thought community response would be better in this case — more variability of experience.

        Is it normal to NOT get a message that a comment has received a response? I thought that’s why we are asked to provide an email address. (Checking back is a drag.)

        • We stopped having the website send notifications when a comment received a reply because too many people marked them as spam. Apparently not realizing that they had requested the notification and that marking good sites as bad is bad for the good sites!!!

      • After an update few months back my cpu usage doing nothing jumped to 20% at idle. I restored an earlier image, then after auto updating again worked fine. Hmm? go figure.

    • And the reply I left there: I have seen one occasionally, but as you say it’s very quick. Not often enough for me to draw any conclusions, though.

      • Then thank you twice!

        So it’s not just me, and you don’t seem concerned. My machine has experienced a bit of a slow-down as well. MS still shaking the bugs out of the update, I guess.

  12. The last Windows 10 update caused a malfunction of “Safely remove hardware …..” it seems to be impossible to fix !!! I need a simple way to set my PC to “metered” to control the updates.

  13. I use a commercial program to make images and reload from them that saved me already 4 times form updates that destroyed my system. It takes aboput 12 min to overwrite and re-install the system drive . I NEVER had to use it for virussen and bots / trojan access, nor the mostly small Ubuntu updates, the big virus was windows update.
    I noticed about more than 0.9 GByte of download during last year on my Win7 Pro 64 with only ‘non option’ updates, listed but not automatically installed, und check of some that are for ‘microsoft improvement program only’ at two time seven not working and causing annoying double restarts. Already this is far too much.
    I bougjt a new PC a half year year ago with this annoying Win10 Pro that first wanted to upgrade / reinstall to 1703, 3 GByte and near a day loss, and inmediatley mixed up with the upload to 1709, another 3 GB and completely got stuck with it. I download using a trick the image of 1709 on a DVD, reset it to systemsetting back, und upgrade tom 1707 offline using this. Near three day lost and over 10 GByte download.
    Note: With ‘windoof’ (German: doof: stupid,morbid) every half year your system will be ‘upgraded’ to another one with a lot of bewared hardware and software not working any more.
    Also over 90% of the updates concerns functionalities that I never use and never asked for.
    This is a disaster for our planet: how many electrical current and money and valuable life time of us is burned with this nonsense? Not speaking of willingly destroying the good working of existing hardware.

  14. At the time I upgraded from 7 to 10, My Gigabyte Laptop was 4 tears old. In summary, MS tried 3 times using different technicians via remote access to make it work properly but it would not… issues with monitor, wifi and printer forced me to revert back to Win7. Eventually, after trying different versions of Win 10 over the years I was lucky enough to get one that worked… all except the wifi, but that was a sacrifice I was prepared to make. Now 2 days ago, Win 10 updated on its own ( I think a new version) and installed it when I shut down. Next morning I find it has returned to the status it was when it was not working properly. Luckily I had a backup image (I learned my lesson with MS now) and restored a good working image. The problem now is I have to stop all updates or my computer wont work properly and my favourite App WikiCamps is useless also after the update. Go figure! So I bit the bullet and installed Linux as a duel boot setup and I am loving it. It really rocks, but unfortunately Wikicamps will not work with linux. So in the end I use Linux 99% of the time and only boot to Win10 when I want to use Wikicamps and do all I can to stop updates. Yes, security will be a problem, but I will always disconnect the internet when I boot win10 and only use internet to update Wikicamps. I guess I need to thank MS for two reasons… One for Win7 which was the greatest OS made until they contaminated it and forcing upgrade to 10… and secondly for stuffing up Win 10, otherwise I never find this wonderful Linux Mint which is faster, and with virtually not a single problem. Leo, I would have thought you would also use Linux on some boxes now and then?

    • I use everything(*). I’m typing on a Mac, have two Linux boxes in my basement, and naturally have assorted Windows machines. There’s even a ChromeBook in the corner.

      I’m wondering if for you running Windows 7 in a virtual machine within Linux might be a more seamless solution for you? VirtualBox works in Linux.

      (*) Except iOS. I have yet to get an iPad or iPhone.


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