Researchers from University College London concluded that update and upgrade processes of Windows 10 Home are confusing users and leaving them frustrated. Microsoft has given the users of Windows 10 Home an illusion of partial control over updates and upgrades. The researchers found how well the needs of users are fulfilled by the Windows 10 update model. The impression is given to the users that they have way more control over restarts than they actually do. Windows 10 Pro and Enterprise let users postpone the continuous security updates and feature upgrades done twice-a-year but Windows 10 Home does not allow this. The updates and upgrades are downloaded and installed automatically on their PCs. It is important to secure the OS and keeping it up to date with new features, functionality, and technologies which makes it a dramatic break in decades of Windows’ practice. This compulsory practice is used by Microsoft simultaneously and millions of users serve as de facto quality control testers.

The restarts needed to finish most updates and upgrades were considered the primary pain points for Home users. Microsoft added settings to reduce these primary pain points. Microsoft added “Active Hours” with the 1607 feature upgrade in mid-2016. When mandatory reboots are not to occur, the setting blocks out time. The actual PC usage is not taken into account the no-restarts-during-this-block-of-time setting. Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise defaults to 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Active Hours and so do Windows 10 Home. That means the restarts that are required are not to take place during those hours.  The block omits reboots during traditional business hours and it is justified for Pro and Enterprise. But Windows 10 Home is not a business-grade OS. As the name suggests, Windows 10 Home is the consumer aka at-home user’s, operating system.

PCs are not used by consumers during business hours only. Just 3% of the total survey participants restrained the use of their computer to the default Active Hours. The device is used on weekday evenings, prime time for Windows 10 reboots according to the default setting by 6%. Most users are unaware that they can restrict reboots to specific blocks of time. Only 28% knew of the setting. Those who were aware of the Active Hours, 38% didn’t even try to change the default even though they knew that their work patterns conflicted. The researchers concluded that around 47% stated that their computer had suddenly restarted to finish installing an update or upgrade. The differences between monthly updates, security and otherwise, and the twice-annual feature upgrades have been explained extensively by the Windows’ maker yet the users were mostly confused by elemental aspects of updates and upgrades.

The users on average believed that updates were irregular than in reality. About half of them believed that updates were delivered every two months or less when in reality Windows 10 Home usually gets two updates per month and three in many months. They were unaware of the difference between update and upgrade. 71% believed updates fixed issues and 87% thought that updates added new features at least sometimes. The users were confused and worried due to the lack of information. They become concerned when the restart took longer. The implications of different kinds of updates like monthly cumulative vs. feature are not recognized and appreciated by the participants. The signs used by Windows are subtle but the implications are potentially important.

The expectations of the users are not met as the feature is taking a lot of time and Windows neither gives an estimate before nor during the updating process. It is concluded by Morris, Becker, and Parkin that there is a disconnect between the controls Microsoft provided in Windows 10 Home and what users needed. The three argued that user permission for updates and restarts is not clearly asked by the Windows. Researchers suggested that restarts should not occur if the PC is in active use and the Active Hours feature requires a different approach. Microsoft should use its machine learning technologies to customize Active Hours. Windows can learn sensible defaults from usage activity and set appropriate restart times automatically.