Microsoft Relaxes Windows 10 'Mandatory Updates'

John Lister's picture

Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10 users will be able to block or undo some updates to the system. It's a minor exception to the recently-instated policy that all updates are mandatory. In previous editions of Windows, users have always had the choice of whether or not to download a new feature or security update, including whether or not it was installed automatically, or manually.

Last month Microsoft raised eyebrows when a page on its site revealed that users of the Home edition -- the one aimed at the general consumer market -- will have all updates downloaded automatically. The only real choice is whether to have the updates installed right away, or delayed until the next time the computer reboots.

Users of the Professional and Enterprise editions will continue to have the option to install updates as they see fit, something that is considered to be a 'must-have' feature for those running office networks. (Source:

Updates No Longer On Fixed Schedule

The change to how Windows is updated is likely because Microsoft has switched its philosophy.

In the past, it's mainly been security updates that come out regularly. New features and improvements come less frequently and, after a few years, an entirely new operating system was released.

With Windows 10, that's all changed. Because many of the features slated for the next release of Windows were often outdated by the time they hit store shelves, Microsoft now wants to release new features as and when they are ready. And with Windows 10 planned to be the final completely new edition, the updates could keep being released for many years to come.

When the news of the change first emerged, tech experts pointed out that mandatory updates could be a big problem if they conflicted with drivers. Those are the small pieces of software that act almost as an interpreter between Windows and a hardware device or component such as a mouse or sound card. In theory, users might wind up with an update stopping such a device from working, but be unable to do anything about it.

Troubleshooter Is Complex Workaround

Microsoft's now released a "troubleshooter" tool that lets users block a particular update from running if it is causing problem. It's somewhat fiddly, as users can't simply stop the update from being downloaded. Instead, users need to manually uninstall the update, then use the tool to block the update from being reinstalled. (Source:

What's Your Opinion?

Should Microsoft force users to have all updates installed automatically? Does giving people manual control over updates risk computers being at greater security risk and potentially passing on viruses? Or should it be up to users which updates they do and don't want, particularly if they could negatively affect performance?

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Dennis Faas's picture

Updates should be mandatory, alongside disk image backups that allow the user to roll back the operating system to a previous state if problems are encountered. It also makes sense to separate all user files from the operating system using an independent partition so that reverting a disk image won't also overwrite user files.

That would be about the only way I can see 'accidental updates' causing more harm than intended. But since disk image backups aren't a mandatory part of the Windows 10 operating system, everyone needs to get familiar with making their own disk image backups on a regular basis (and also partitioning).

Syscob Support's picture

In addition to the technical considerations (remember last August?) consider the user on a restricted download limit by his ISP. Some plans here allow as little as 500MB in a month and charge $0.20, or more, per MB (over $200 per gigabyte) after that limit.

Will Redmond pick up the tab when thier updates push him over his limit?

Boots66's picture

I started to gasp at your first sentence, but bit my tongue and read on...Then I let out my breath. BUT here is my caveat! Stop allowing any developers of programs to setup their apps to automatically go to the 'C' drive to install OR failing any win-sin situation there, then as you said, have the OS automatically go to a seperate partition called 'W' for Windows, and install it and the drivers ONLY there. Then send the Updates to 'W' - Conflict? - Then the issue is on 'W' only. The setting up of 'W' would become something that Microsoft and the equipment manufacturers would have to deal with as trying to get developers to change their program layout....

Dennis Faas's picture

I've been separating user files from the operating system since the days of Windows 95 and 98 (when I start using disk images). Also, it's easy enough to choose another location during a program setup to have it store its files onto another partition. I do that as well in order to keep reduce the size of the disk image backup. There are only a handful of programs that will store files onto the C drive by default without any option to store elsewhere. All the technology is here today to do what I said in my previous comment - it just takes careful planning and some basic understanding. Disk images are the way to go if you want bulletproof backups without any worry.

NickyK's picture

I have Windows 7 Home Edition and almost always install updates as soon as they appear. Thus far, I have been fortunate (unlike some people) not to have encountered any problems.

However, I would prefer to retain full control as to when and what to install and also have full control on removing what might turn out to be problematic or unwanted.

While I understand something of why Microsoft now intends updates to be mandatory, I feel this policy is patronizing and arrogant.

I appreciate the idea behind Disc Images but I such a thing is beyond my abilities! Perhaps Microsoft will have such an utility as one of their first updates after W10 launches (which will then mess up everyone's PCs and lap-tops etc!).

howard_5051's picture

It's going to be inevitable that some Windows 10 updates aren't going to work - especially in the first few months when not all software vendors have drivers that are compatible with Microsoft's updates.

If Microsoft advise you when updates are available to download / install manually, you have the option to create a Restore Point first (providing this function is available in Windows 10) so that if your PC goes haywire after installing a particular update, you have a way out by using System Restore.

I always store my data on a separate partition / disk to the Operating System - including emails in Windows Live Mail. It's easy to set this up. It also keeps the size of your C: drive under control - particularly important if you use an SSD drive for C:. I then use two different backup tools; Acronis True Image to make regular images of my C: drive and BullGuard to make backup copies of my data. BullGuard make separate file copies rather than making an image, so if you need to restore just one or two files, you don't have to load the whole image. I also use an external Buffalo drive with hardware encryption for my data. This works much quicker than software encryption as the files are copied across without having to be encrypted individually.

Commenter's picture

I remember all too well when one of Microsoft's updates bricked computers all over the country for those unlucky enough to have a certain manufacturer and dumb enough to install updates as soon as they come out. If we had done this, we'd have lost my husband's computer. Yes, it's backed up. So what? Restoring a backup is a pain in the keister. Why should I be Microsoft's guinea pig?

Very, very, very few users have the knowledge and experience to make and restore disk image backups. It might be a nice idea, but unless Microsoft automatically creates them, they won't happen and you know it.

If Microsoft should happen to automatically create disk images (AH HA HA HA HA!!!), do I want Microsoft deciding when is a good time to install updates or create backups? No, I do not! There are times when that's going to really mess things up.

Should the default be to install updates automatically? Probably so. Should it be required and unchangeable? Absolutely not!

NickyK's picture

I've just been checking my update history (Windows 7) and have four instances of Upgrade to Windows 10 Home marked as "Failed". Not exactly encouraging.

doliceco's picture

When I was forced to update to Windows 7 from Windows XP (both professional editions) I lost the drivers for my Epson Scanner and Windows installed drivers for two of my Epson printers that may have seemed adequate to MS, but that eliminated a number of Epson's original features that existed in their own proprietary drivers. Many of the older Adobe graphics programs I had (including Photoshop, Illustrator and others) would not install. That cost me more money.

I have no gratitude to offer Microsoft for demanding that I install all of the stuff I write, create, or do anything else into their preinstalled "suggested" "Folders" but to put them into their own "documents", "pictures", "music", etc. directories.

All of the files I create are on a completely separate and removable hard drive and indexed the way I want them: by directory names I want to assign, regardless of what kind of files they happen to be.

As it has been with every operating system MS has ever release since around WIN 95, this is another way for Microsoft to make sure that although they are giving this program away for free, consumers will be forced to buy updates of a lot of other new program versions and more hardware, where their new OS's don't support older original drivers.

"Minimum System Requirements" have been a joke for years, not only with operating sytstems, but with other software and even hardware manufacturers.

This constant upgrading of software and hardware to make it "easier" and "happier" for people of perhaps limited intelligence to "play" be "entertained" and "communicate" has been responsible for thousands of computers that could have otherwise been used for education or sent to foreign countries for people there to get free to use and educate themselves, becoming landfill.