Future Windows 10 updates will require 35-65% less space, offer better Windows Update controls
One of the least-popular aspects of Microsoft’s Windows 10 rollout has been the sheer size of many of the updates. Last November, Microsoft announced that future betas and feature releases of Windows 10 would move to a differential download model, in which only files that had changed will actually be sent to your system for installation. Previously, Microsoft distributed all the files needed for an update, even if those files were identical to those already on your system.
According to Bill Karagounis, Director of Program Management for the Windows Insider & OS Fundamentals division, this new Unified Update Platform (UUP) will dramatically slash the size of future updates. Windows Insiders can expect to see a 65% reduction in update size, while non-Insiders could still see a 35% improvement. The reason for the gap between the two improvement levels is because regular Windows 10 users receive updates much less frequently, and therefore a larger percentage of the operating system has been updated between major releases. Windows Insiders swap smaller update sizes for much more frequent updates. Either way, however, overall pressure on bandwidth and metered connections should be considerably reduced.
Canonical updates are total updates, not differential updates.
If you aren’t part of the Windows Insider program, you’ll receive this update on a different cadence. UUP will ship as part of Windows 10 Creators Update, which means it’ll be the next feature update that will require much less space to install.
Creators Update to offer better installation controls
One of Windows 10’s most annoying features has been the way it takes control of Windows updates away from end users. While we have no issue with mandatory security updates, Microsoft’s decision to handle all updates via unified packages (and to occasionally reboot PCs without warning to install them) has angered many people, myself included. Last week, the company announced that the Creators Update will include some additional controls that let users specify how and when updates and reboots occur.
Here’s how Microsoft’s John Cable, Director of Program Management within the Windows Servicing and Delivery (WSD) team describes the changes:
Prior to the Creators Update, Windows 10 made most of the decisions for you regarding when updates would be installed and didn’t provide ways to tailor the timing to your specific needs. What we heard back most explicitly was that you want more control over when Windows 10 installs updates. We also heard that unexpected reboots are disruptive if they happen at the wrong time.
With the Creators Update you will have several new options for scheduling the timing of when updates install. For example, you can specify exactly when you want an update to occur (including the ability to reschedule an update if your original choice ends up being less convenient than expected), or “hit the snooze button.” The “snooze” capability allows you to pause the update process completely for three days when you need uninterrupted time on your device. In addition, we are widening the “Active Hours” time so Windows doesn’t install an update at times when you want your device to be ready to use.
The screenshots below illustrate how Windows 10 will prompt for updates after the CU.
Click to enlarge
It’s good to see Microsoft making changes that give end users more control over their hardware. But Redmond’s claim that “We also heard that unexpected reboots are disruptive if they happen at the wrong time” is farcical. Unexpected reboots are disruptive at any time. Even if you lose no data from your previous session, you’re stuck waiting for the machine to perform a memory dump and reboot, plus the time it takes to relaunch all of the applications you were previously using.
If you’ve used a PC for any length of time, you’ve experienced an unexpected reboot from a hardware fault, software error, or power outage. System crashes and BSODs have become far less common, but they’re by no means unheard of. And Microsoft already knows it. If it didn’t, why did it build autosave capabilities into Office? Why does Edge include a “Restore Previous Session” button? If unexpected reboots are a problem Microsoft didn’t previously understand, why did the company spend so much time and effort developing a new device driver model for Windows Vista? The entire point of Vista’s WDDM was to change how display drivers interfaced with the operating system so that unexpected failures wouldn’t crash the entire OS.
From the user’ point of view, a sudden unexpected crash and a sudden unexpected reboot are basically the same thing. While we’re genuinely glad to see Microsoft solving some of these problems, its continued attempts to paint itself as a neophyte company solving unexpected challenges don’t jive with its multi-billion dollar valuations and decades of experience.