Microsoft outlines improvements to Windows 10 upgrades, giving you more time to use your PC

Last month, Microsoft hosted a Windows Insider webcast during which it discussed the deployment of new preview builds, and future Windows updates. Since then, the company has already made changes to the Windows Update process, and is actively reviewing user feedback and telemetry on those revisions from recent Windows 10 Insider Preview builds.

In a post in the Windows 10 Feedback Hub, Microsoft's Jason Howard explained the difference between the 'old' way of doing things and the new improvements, by outlining the current and revised update processes. For each, there are two phases to Windows updates: an 'online' component, during which your PC remains usable while things happen in the background; and an 'offline' element, when your PC is completely taken over by the process of installing the update, including a reboot or two.

Here's the old process:

Online phase:

  • PC checks for upgrades (manually or automatically)
  • Upgrade payload downloads
  • PC waits for the required reboot to begin install

Offline phase:

  • PC reboots to begin install process (manually or automatically)
  • User content (apps/settings/configurations) is backed up
  • New OS files are laid down (Windows Image [WIM] process)
  • Drivers and other required OS files are migrated
  • User content is restored
  • PC reboots and the update finalizes

As Jason acknowledged, "a majority of update functions were processed in the offline phase, creating a longer period where users were unable to use their PCs." A key goal for Microsoft in improving Windows updates was to reduce the amount of offline time, giving users more time to be able to use their PCs. The new process should do just that:

Online phase:

  • PC checks for updates (manually or automatically)
  • Update downloads
  • User content (apps/settings/configurations) is backed up
  • New OS files are laid down (WIM process)
  • PC waits for the required reboot to begin install

Offline phase:

  • PC reboots to begin install process (manually or automatically)
  • Drivers and other required OS files are migrated
  • User content is restored
  • PC reboots and the update finalizes

Jason noted that, overall, "upgrades will appear to take longer if you're watching or timing the process." But the portion of the upgrade during which your PC is unusable should now be much shorter, allowing you to work, play, or look at videos of dogs doing the funniest things, for longer than before.

Microsoft is now actively seeking additional feedback from Insiders on its changes to the Windows Update process, ahead of its release of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update (or Autumn Creators Update) in the coming months.

Source: Microsoft (Windows 10 Feedback Hub) via OnMSFT

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