Microsoft Windows & Forced Upgrades / Updates

The bane of any Windows 1o user these days is the incessant and insistent deployment of Windows Updates. And these aren’t the Updates like they were in the years gone by where you’d have a number of small-ish ones, patches if you will, but ones that are as bulky as the operating itself.

Just how bulky they are is evident not only by the length of time they take to download and install (which is a problem in itself for all of us with slow internet), but the space taken up as revealed by the Disc Cleanup utility. This too proves to be a problem if your system lacks the capacity for them. You might not even know why your computer is going slow, or your time on the internet feels sluggish unless you are to delve into the Task Manager.

When your internet is already slow and Windows decides to hog it to download a multi-gigabyte update.

Windows 10 itself can fit onto a standard DVD, around 5GB, but after installing this and then proceeding to download and install all of the outstanding updates, and then running Disc Cleanup, can reveal upwards of 20 or 30GB can be freed up.

Of course, some of that could be duplicates, or the same stuff both “packed” and unpacked, so assuming 50% of that is the real figure downloaded, this reveals that each time Windows 10 installs one of its “Cumulative” updates, it’s effectively downloading Windows 10 afresh in its entirety.

The stance from Microsoft must be that this is the most reliable way of patching/updating an operating system, rather than putting in places the bits and pieces that have changed.

The problem though, as I have been experiencing, from not only my own use of the OS, but the findings of others including my clients (since I fix computers for people) and people ranting about random topics on the internet is that, more people are experiencing more of a problem.

The explanation seems to be this. Because in days gone by, if a particular small-ish update or patch failed to install, that would be it, it would only be that to be affected, and maybe it would try again and succeed on the next attempt, or you/I could find the problematic update and ‘hide’ it. Sure, in worst cases the entire system would hit a brick wall, but with the case of stripping out the entire OS, as effectively happens now, and putting in the updated version, as the latest ‘Cumulative’ updates seem to do, when this fails, or experiences a hiccup, you’re left up sh!t creek without a paddle, and because Microsoft have chosen this approach and taken away our options, more and more people are feeling like “Microsoft broke my computer” rather than it being an understandable glitch due to a system’s complexity.

I’ve dealt with numerous Update issues of late, highlighting these very things.

I had my own case where the installation of the latest Cumulative update would fail (as illustrated above); the system would promptly proceed to revert to how it was prior to attempting to install that update, to only then try again the next time Windows successfully loaded. It persisted in this loop until I was able to disable all updating (something that’s not so straightforward to achieve with Windows 10).

Clients of mine have experienced various but common issues with the latest round of Updates, and these include weird but annoying quirks where the ‘Theme’ throws a wobbly and everything turns black, like the OS had decided they were visually impaired, or the keyboard layout reverts to the US layout, which is not particularly helpful to those of us living in the UK where the @ and ” symbols are swapped round. As always, in worst cases the OS crashes out and the easiest solution (for me) is to wipe everything off and start again (because System Restore can’t figure out what to do either).

My calculation is that the more times we, as users (or victims), encounter these Cumulative updates which Microsoft insist on inflicting on us (since they have taken away pretty much all the options to avoid them), the more chances there are for us to experience an issue with these updates, and since, as said above, issues tend to be severe, Microsoft is, sooner or later, for the odds are in the favour of such, going to p!$$ off each and every one of their users at some time or another. It’s a given.

The most hardened fan boy (or girl) of Microsoft – and I’ve met very few – is going to have their patience and loyalty tested.

5 comments

  1. I wonder whether you’ve come across the following issue.

    Over the last few months my laptop battery life was getting poorer and poorer, and then I realised the fan was going like a blow dryer. On checking the task manager I found a process called something like Host App Service Update Monitor occupying around 35% of the processor – all the time! What kind of crap is that – 35% – and does it do anything useful anyway? Where did it come from?

    On searching I found others had had the same problem – the process was from an outfit called Sweetlabs. So I found it on the program list (I refuse to call them apps) and uninstalled it, and wonderful, the three-year old battery now lasts two and a half hours and fan goes only when several demanding applications open. Everything still works fine.

    Looked on wife’s laptop. Same problem. Same solution. Same results. I wonder how many others have it. The Sweetlabs website boast their cr-apps have shipped to 150 million devices.

    • Hi Tasker,

      I don’t think I’ve come across that specific ‘App Service Update Monitor’ but certainly the symptoms, and Sweetlabs sounds familiar and ‘Pokki’ that a search reveals; that was typically installed by people seeking a Windows 7-style Start menu for Windows 8. I find AdwCleaner is good at rooting out bits and pieces like that; anything that hogs the CPU unnecessarily is going to impact battery life.

      It’s good to hear you got to the bottom of the problem.

  2. Like with Linux, there are stable LTS(B) windows releases that don’t have frequent updates and focus only on security patches. But they try to avoid consumers getting their hands on that product.

  3. You hippy, you.

    Say, you wanna be a beta reader of a fantasy novel I’ve written? Takes place on the other coast (East coast of Britain), but you might enjoy it. It’s YA and about a girl, but it’s full of Greek Myth and, well, up to you.

  4. This sort of problem is the reason I ultimately abandoned Windows in favor of Linux. My husband and my kids still use Windows, so I have to know how to maintain it. But on my own computer, I definitely don’t miss the forced updates. Great post; thanks for sharing.

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