Windows: The Dread of Updates

By Shamus Posted Thursday Sep 10, 2020

Filed under: Rants 179 comments

It’s Wednesday, and I’m programming. In a few hours I need to set this aside and get my next SWJFOLOL post ready for tomorrow. I’m having a minor little problem with Visual Studio that forces me to restart the program every hour or so to continue working. I see there’s an update available. Maybe that will fix my problem?

I click the button, and Visual Studio spends about 45 seconds updating itself. Then it ends with a message telling me that I need to restart my computer before I can continue.

Ugh. Well OF COURSE I do.

This is more annoying than you might think. I’m running Unity, my image editor, Blender, and (until a few seconds ago) Visual Studio. I’ve got web windows opened on both monitors, one for checking comments on this site and another filled with Google search results for the three or five C# problems I’m trying to unravel. I have several explorer windows opened up and all of these things are positioned in very specific places to facilitate my workflow.

The point is that it takes some time to get all of these things running again after a reboot. But fine. Let’s get this over with.

I click on the restart button and I see the dreaded message that informs me that a Windows Update is waiting for me. My stomach is instantly in knots. I’m feeling actual fear and stress right now. This happens every single time there’s an update. Most of the time updates go fine, but updates that don’t go fine are usually catastrophic. I’ve lost count of the number of times that Windows has killed itself in an update and forced me to spend a few days re-installing the OS and nursing the machine back to usefulness. Choosing to update always feels like a game of Russian roulette.

I know you’re supposed to keep your machine up-do-date. It’s supposedly irresponsible to leave your machine un-patched because then the magical hacker demons will take control of your machine. Well, I’ve never been hacked like that, but I have experienced self-destructive updates on multiple occasions, on multiple computers, using multiple versions of Microsoft’s global misery engine.

I hover over the update button for a few seconds, trying to figure out if being afraid of updates is a rational concern or an irrational phobia. I don’t know what to think.

Hmm. Well, it’ll probably force me to take the update eventually. I’m rebooting now, so I might as well get it over with. I figure I’ll go make a sandwich and hopefully it’ll be done when I get back. These things usually take about fifteen minutes. I’m not sure WHY, since it only takes TEN minutes to install the entire OS from scratch, but whatever. A sandwich sounds good right now.

I click update and walk away.

I come back in fifteen minutes. It is not done. I have a black screen with a spinning “wait” circle at the bottom. That’s it.

Hey, remember back in Windows 98 when it would say something like “Installing Update 1 of 12” or whatever? That was nice. You could tell if you were making progress. The updates took a variable amount of time so it couldn’t tell you how long it was going to take, but you COULD tell that it was making progress. Well, that feature is gone. So now we have this stress-inducing trap:

  1. Make sure to always install updates!
  2. You have no idea how long it will take, and no way to tell if the process is stuck.
  3. Don’t ever stop an update in progress! You could damage your machine!

I wait. I pace. I cuss. I think about using one of the other computers in the house, but I’d have to install a bunch of software on their machine to do my job. Also, those people are, you know, USING their computers and I don’t want to spread the misery by ruining someone else’s day.

I Google “How long does Windows Update take?” That’s a dumb question since updates are incredibly variable in duration, but I run into an article from the last couple of weeks and it gives an estimate of “4 hours”.

That’s ludicrous. Imagine what you could accomplish with 4 hours of processing time. That’s enough time to re-install the OS from scratch 24 times. That’s enough time to download the entire Windows 10 installer a dozen or so times. It’s also enough time to do FOUR HOURS OF PRODUCTIVE WORK, WHICH WAS MY PLAN.

This is horrific. Rather than pacing, I decide to go take a nap. I get up a few hours later to discover that we’re now SEVEN hours into this ordeal, and I’m still staring at the same fucking spinning circle.

What could Windows Update POSSIBLY be doing for SEVEN HOURS?!?! That’s enough time to re-install the OS from scratch around 40 times! We could have written and re-written the entire contents of C:/ several times over.

WHAT IS IT DOING?

Yes, I’m using a solid state drive.

Yes, I have a pretty fast machine, not some clunker from 2005.

Yes, the internet connection is just fine. Nobody has observed the internet running at 1/100th normal speed or anything crazy like that.

Will this ordeal complete in a minute? Two more hours? Three days from now? Or is it stuck and I’m waiting for no reason?

Fuck this. I’m rebooting.

The machine starts up again, although now all of my input devices have gone dark on me. I fiddle around changing USB outlets and eventually my mouse and keyboard come back to life. I go to rollback the update, but Windows is confused about what’s going on. I’m sure that’s due to aborting the update. It claims I have the latest update, but it also claims I last updated in mid-Auuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuust.

Oh, that’s another problem. That nonsense at the end of the last sentence? That hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhas happens constantly now. I’m not creating those for comedic effect. This is a real thing that’s going on. The keyboard & mouse lock up randomly every 30 seconds or so, and if I’m currently holding down a key it will repeat that key for the duration of the lockupIt’s been happening the whole time as I wrote this article, but I fixed the earlier ones. Now I’m just going to leave them.

So I lost a full day of productivity and my computer is now fucked up. As someone who types for a living, this is a pretty serious problem. Yeah, you’re not supposed to stop an update in progress and maybe if I’d waited a fortnight the update would have completed successfully. But this isn’t the first time Windows Update has crippled my machine.

That does it. I don’t care about this supposed threatttttttttttttttttt of hackers. Windows Update is more of a threat to my machine than the hackers ever were. And if they get me? I keep really good off-site backups and re-installing the OS is still faster than Windows Update by an order of magnitude. This is monstrous. If I ever get this thing into working order again, I’m turning off Updates. Using Windows Update is like shooting yourself in the spine to avoid catching an exotic illness with a known cure.

I know Windows 10 is free, but I’d gladly pay full price if it was possible to obtain (say) a copy of Windows 7 that supports modern games.

And seriously: WHAT WAS IT DOING FOR SEVEN HOURS?!?! Do you know how many processor cycles that is? I don’t, but it’s an unthinkable amount of processing power.

This question is driving me crazy. I honestly want to know hooooooocould  how could you possibly make an update take that long? Short of deliberately inserting Sleep (1000000); in a loop somewhere, I don’t know how you can keep a computer busy for so long just installing updates. This question is so baffling and so inexplicable that I find myself turning to conspiracy theories.  Is Windows just randomly digging around in my personal files? I’ve got a 7TB external drive here that I use for backups and storing video. I guess cataloging the whole thing miiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiittake might take a while.

I got Windows 10 for free and I still feel like I’ve been horribly ripped off. My time is worth more than this.

Anyway, I welcome your guesses at to what my computer was doing for seven fucking hours. In the meantime, I have to see if I can fix this keyboard problem before I completely lose my mind.

 

Footnotes:

[1] It’s been happening the whole time as I wrote this article, but I fixed the earlier ones. Now I’m just going to leave them.



From The Archives:
 

179 thoughts on “Windows: The Dread of Updates

  1. Joe says:

    Damn. I hope you get your keyboard problem fixed. I can imagine how frustrating that must be.

    As to your general point, I’ve noticed that kind of problem many times over the years. Updates that actually remove functionality instead of increasing it. I’ve never understood why you’d make a new version of something if it’s objectively worse than the old version. Look at the new FB layout. Not only does it remove functionality, it’s ugly. Completely baffling.

    1. Joshua says:

      I don’t know a single person that likes it. It’s a hideous layout and color scheme.

    2. Lino says:

      It might be less functional, but it’s way more shiny. And if you’re a big tech company, that’s all that really matters!

    3. Alex says:

      Perhaps its due to perverse incentives in Facebook’s workplace. Maybe you want to keep your UI guy on retainer so that he’s on hand whenever you need him, but if you threaten to fire him if he stops making UI updates to the live site, guess what he’s going to do: make UI updates to the live site.

      1. Joe says:

        So he makes a new UI that’s terrible, then slowly reintroduces the bits that people want? I can see that. It’s terrible, but plausible.

    4. Grimwear says:

      My mom is an admin for a lost pet FB group for our city and according to her (I don’t use FB) the new update is a disaster. They lost access to a lot of their most used features. More importantly a lot of their admins have straight up quit because it’s too difficult to do basic things like updating and editing posts. Good job Facebook.

      1. Taellosse says:

        I have come to the conclusion that the whole “web 2.0” venture was a horrible mistake. If not in conception, then most definitely in execution. I quit using all “social media” almost 18 months ago without negative result, and I’m pleased every time I hear anyone else expressing similar sentiments. I genuinely hope disaster strikes both Facebook and Twitter, utterly crushing both as viable companies. Both have business models that are fundamentally inimical to a healthy society, and their core intentions as platforms operate like a virulent wasting disease on interpersonal discourse. The dubious benefits they offer by making communication faster and easier are far outweighed by the damage they do to the mental health and productivity of countless individuals and the balkanization of society at large.

        And as bad as the platforms themselves are, possibly the worst thing they’ve done is infect the rest of Silicone Valley- and to a significant degree much of the greater technology industry – with their dangerous point of view. All corporations have a tendency to operate with a troubling disregard for human safety and well-being, but the social media revolution of viewing consumers not merely as independently mobile wallets but as commodities themselves is the foundation of a dystopia of truly terrifying scope, if allowed to continue unchecked.

    5. Aaron says:

      I really dislike the update process on a number of my systems – Windows for the disruption to my day, but also Xbox and PS4 gaming consoles that lock me out of doing anything online until I do the update. Since I download most of my games, that often means I can’t play anything until I do the update. And, since I’m a husband and father of two small children, I’m usually trying to get in a quick 15 minutes or so of gaming in between familial obligations. If there’s an update required, I’m SOL! Think about it – you want to use the system you paid (sometimes a lot of) money for, and you’re locked out. It’s ridiculous – I’m glad these systems have evolved to be able to update themselves, but at the same time, as you pointed out, these updates aren’t always successful. Plus, it points to a trend where these systems are putting themselves ahead of the users in terms of priority. Hey, I want to do something on my computer, or gaming console – why don’t you let me do what I want, then you worry about updating yourself?

    6. Agammamon says:

      Firefox just did an update for mobile. Its horrible. Some of it is just because they moved stuff around – the address bar and controls are at the bottom now – which I guess is kind of good for mobile but the other way worked just fine, it doesn’t work *better*, and now its different from the desktop.

      Everything else is objectively worse. To the point I’m considering other options like going back to Opera or something.

      1. Whisky Tango Foxtrot says:

        If you go to Settings->Customize you can move the toolbar back to the top.

  2. Content Consumer says:

    You’ve got a bit of a speech impediment there, guy.
    Text impediment?

    Windows has (or had anyway, I don’t know if more recent versions have) a thing called “stick-keys” or “stickeys” or something like that, some accessibility setting that, from what I remember, was supposed to work only for the CTRL and ALT keys but somehow did for every key on the keyboard. Combine that with your current input problem for double the fun!

    1. Geebs says:

      Text impediment

      If you read the article out loud, it becomes terrifyingly apparent that “Shamus“ has actually been SHODAN all along.

      1. Karma The Alligator says:

        Well, considering “his” obsession with System Shock, it makes sense.

      2. Exasperation says:

        You misspelled “Max Headroom” there.

  3. Andrew_CC says:

    That’s a legendarily bad update Shamus, my condoleances. Somehow across 7 or so Windows10 machines at work and at home, I’ve been lucky to never get one. I’ve still managed to nuke the OS occasionally, but using 3rd party apps, the lastest was AMD’s StoreMI, which BSOD’d during install and managed to make my boot drive UNBOOTABLE. Microsoft actually saved by butt on that one, since I fortunately had a restore point that it had created automatically just a few hours earlier.
    Were you logged into a MS account that would identify you as “Shamus Young”?
    Maybe some Microsoft engineer has decided to mess with you directly in their updates as retaliation to your outspoken hate for their products? That would be the only explanation, since you have a modern, common configuration PC, and, in my experience Win10 is the most stable release of Windows ever.

  4. kaljtgg says:

    Gut answer? It was stuck on something. Likely it couldn’t grok one of your USB devices, I’ve seen several cases where windows update will hang endlessly until you unplug them all.

    For a real answer: Check CBS.log and run “Get-WindowsUpdateLog” from an admin powershell to check windowsupdate.log

    1. Karma The Alligator says:

      I second the USB devices lock up, it’s happened to me at work (during work hours, yes) and I basically lost a few hours in a similar update debacle. I hate Win10 with all of my hate.

    2. Bubble181 says:

      Yup. As someone who professionally installs software on a very wide range of PCs nowadays, an update of modern software taking over 4 hours is 99% sure stuck in a loop or locked due to one little bit refusing to turn over. Disconnect weird peripherals. ABSOLUTELY unplug 7TB disks full of data you want to keep. Windows Updates especially tend to be way faster and easier on a PC with just a network connection, a keyboard, a screen and a mouse, and preferably just one SSD. Just plug everything else back in.
      Check the logs, and find out what caused it, because frankly, while I enjoy the rants, Windows Update, besides usually installing a million things you don’t want and taking away options you did want, really shouldn’t be that much of a traumatic experience. I’ve never seen it fail that hard.

      1. Blue Painted says:

        This. Just this.
        For desk-space reasons all but one USB device is plugged into a USB hub, I unplug the incoming, then do Windows Update … and so far (touch wood, cross fingers, spit three times and swear buggritmilleniumhandandshrimp) … they all go smoothly and quickly.

  5. Steve C says:

    I have lost productive days due to other people’s updates. I needed to work with them and their computer was busy updating. I’m always an OS version behind (using Win7 now) due to increasing loss of control each new version brings. It continuously baffles me why this is acceptable to people in general.

    There was a Linus Tech Tips about “Win10 Ameliorated” this week.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwkiU6GG-YU

    1. Andrew_CC says:

      I saw that, you basically gotta hack parts off of Win10 until it’s worse than Win95 to “ameliorate” it.

      1. Steve C says:

        The criticisms raised against it in the video are valid. That isn’t though. I’ve never used it and don’t have a horse in the race. Still that the worst kind of hyperbole. The entire point is to remove those sections of Windows. The parts being removed are considered a negative (not a positive) by someone who is installing that version. It’s a bit like making fun of someone who is lactose intolerant for ordering a cheese-less pizza.

        1. Fizban says:

          And really, what are the downsides? Updating is apparently an extra hassle in this altered version, but that’s the whole point of today’s blog, that updating already isn’t worth the hassle, so eff it. There’s some problems with directx 12, but they specifically said it’s an update thing and you can still update, so said problems should be fixable by putting in the effort, if you even need to, while still running anything that’s not dx12 as normal. Apparently there’s a problem where even with the spyware yanked they need to tell windows itself there’s no internet, so programs that ask windows if there’s internet won’t work, but they’re web browsing so clearly that works. And it runs in user mode rather than admin mode by default, but I don’t see why you couldn’t change that, or just put in the password as needed.

          They’re recommending against for everyday use, but I don’t really see why unless you’re talking about work or serious hobby stuff. If all you want is web browser and games and such, the stuff they literally showed working, why not? (Potential loss of support if you don’t save copies of everything including the webpages, forums, etc, if Microsoft has them annihilated, would be a reason). It certainly seems worth giving a shot before giving up and going full linux.

          Ironically, they suggested it would be fine for running in a VM on linux- but isn’t a whole major benefit of the VM that you can just wall off anything except the connections you want anyway? A small increase in performance? What’s the use case on *that* combo?

          1. Steve C says:

            I agree with you that the use cases suggested in the video don’t make a lot of sense to me either. The downsides were covered in the video. (UI problems, Direct 12 problems, etc. I’m not going to cover them again.) Those are legitimate.

            What I can appreciate is that the video neither sung it’s praises nor condemned it. That video put it on my list of things to consider when I’m finally forced off Win7. Which I know is coming some day.

            1. Fizban says:

              I see the boot drive to end all boot drives, a dozen or more partitions filled with win10 restrained or scoured in various ways and popular linux distributions, to be played against each other in the search for “which of these is least terrible.”

    2. Asdasd says:

      “Windows 10 minus the spyware plus added stability and security.”

      Stop, I can only get so erect!

      1. SidheKnight says:

        Stop, I can only get so erect!

        r/unexpectedarcher

  6. Fishnut says:

    My “favourite” was a Windows 7 update that checked if I was running an OEM version of the OS on the wrong hardware. Now I get my background set to a black screen with text warning it’s not a genuine copy in the corners, and a regular popup reminding me my copy of Windows is not genuine, and I may be a victim of counterfeit software. (I’d argue that the only thing I’m a victim of here is overzealous attempts to get me to upgrade my machine)

    Problem I have is that this is the install I got on the machine, and it was something like five years after I got it that this thing finally kicked in and decided there was a problem. It’s been sitting there for a few years now, I just leave the dialog warning open in the background so it doesn’t take focus when it triggers (it still dings and blinks the taskbar icon though) and carry on as normal. I’ve yet to encounter a single feature I use that has been locked to me by not being genuine.

    1. Asdasd says:

      Condolences, I had that one too. I ended up having to buy a second cheap Win7 CD from Amazon which was even less legit looking than the OEM copy I’d originally installed from.

    2. Exact same problem, for years now at this point. The computer it happened on is old as tits and just used to browse the web/media, so it has nothing important on it. I decided fuggit and just turned off updates cause it’s just not worth the hassle.

  7. Liam says:

    Also, doesn’t windows automagically create a restore poitn before each update? You could try rolling back to that.

    Disclaimer: I’ve only had windows restore itself once successfully, and that was back in the Windows ME days. These days I just reinstall, it only takes me a couple of hours to get back to where I was

  8. ivan says:

    A couple of weeks ago I bit the bullet and allowed an update, that I’d been putting off for about a month, to happen at me. I did this by selecting “update and shut down”. The next day, I turn my computer back on, and it spent a (thankfully short compared to the one in this article) while finishing up the update, before letting me use the computer again.

    Seemed fine, at first (the computer), slightly more sluggish that I remembered, but basically ok. An hour or so later it was chugging, half an hour after that it was taking several minutes to open an explorer window. It did open me up an explorer window, though, and after another aeon of waiting it gave me the “Properties” dialog of my main OS containing SSD. Which, it turned out, was full. To the Brim. This drive has a nominal capacity of 893 GB, of which every. Single. Byte. Was occupied. The day before, about 600GB free, approximately.

    So where was this new data from? TreeSize (thank god for that wondrous program, I have no idea how windows does not incorporate that functionality into Explorer yet :/ ) told me those extra 600ish GB were in my C:\Windows\Temp folder. Disk Cleanup didn’t tell me I could save 600GB of space by deleting temporary files, incidentally, so thanks disk cleanup for being useless I guess.

    Anyway, I delete everything in the fold created since yesterday, which is basically everything. Millions of <10MB files created since yesterday, with names reminiscent of "windowsUpdateLog_66666mjfyu4dfghdhdfgf" or some such. So yeah, I delete those, which takes a few minutes, cos it's deleting a whole lot, and, as is habitual for me, I refresh the explorer window where I did this, to make sure I missed nothing. Turns out I missed some few thousand files somehow, so I delete those too. But there's still more, there's always more. What's going on?

    Well, it turns out this is a "known bug", a useless microsoft forum from months ago tells me. Known, but not fixed, considering I did this update at the end of August, and that forum is from February.

    Anyways, long story short, I, after a long time of searching through forums and trying things out, managed to get this thing to stop. It’s something to do with Windows Store, apparently, that got triggered by this update, and whilst no single thing suggested on any forums did solve it, eventually doing pretty much all of them at once did solve it. I forget the details exactly, hence not detailing them here, suffice to say it was a long and annoying process.

    But, circling around to the top of this post, I mentioned the drive this was being done to is an SSD. For those who do not know, SSD’s have a limited number of data writes they can take before the data cluster dies. It’s not a super low number, but that’s why people who know things will tell you to never do a ‘full’ format of an SSD, to always select to do a ‘quick’ format instead. So, fixing this problem took Hours, during which this shit Updater garbage was writing literally thousands and thousands of files to my SSD, every minute.

    I dunno for sure how much, but it probably legit did actually damage my hardware. So, yeah, Shamus, you are probably correct to be afraid of Windows Updates. They’re Malware.

    1. Andrew_CC says:

      Hey, thanks for making me aware of TreeSize. It’s great!

      1. Asdasd says:

        Looks a bit like SpaceMonger, which has been a huge boon ever since I was introduced to it.

        1. Jordan says:

          There’s also WinDirStat (weird name) that works similar to spacemonger, albeit with a shinier but slightly less useful visualisation.

      2. Dev Null says:

        I like the visualization of Disk Space Fan, FWIW.

    2. jpuroila says:

      For someone who’s paranoid about Windows updates, I would suggest getting the LTSC version. Of course, I’m fairly certain you can’t get it legitimately as an individual, but “Updates messed up my computer” is exactly the problem it’s supposed to solve.

      I dunno for sure how much, but it probably legit did actually damage my hardware. So, yeah, Shamus, you are probably correct to be afraid of Windows Updates. They’re Malware.

      Modern SSDs are pretty durable and rated for the entire disk to be written several times per day for years. Well, unless you have on that uses QLC, in which case the endurance is significantly lower, but the damage to the memory cells probably isn’t significant anyway.

      1. ivan says:

        Wow, looked up that LTSC thing, maan that is tempting. What I didn’t mention is that the specific Update involved was the one Shamus railed against a while ago that forces the new Edge onto your computer, and takes over your screen to ‘configue’ it’s dumb ass at next startup. But This LTSC comes without Edge, without Windows Store, Cortana, One Note, and a bunch of other things I hate but cannot get rid of fully with my limited tech savvy. What a brilliant thing it would be if they just let us regular users have the Option to turn them off, but since that isn’t the case this (LTSC) really is something I’d want. Gotta look into how to get, tho :/

        1. Liam says:

          It’s available if you have an MSDN subscription. I just checked and my subscription includes 1 multiple-activation key.

          Might have to give it a go next time I reinstall…

          I think the LTSC ‘N’ version may be even more desirable:

          “Windows 10 Enterprise N LTSC 2019 includes the same functionality as Windows 10 Enterprise LTSC 2019, except that it does not include certain media related technologies (Windows Media Player, Camera, Music, TV and Movies) and does not include the Skype app.”

    3. emptyother says:

      > For those who do not know, SSD’s have a limited number of data writes they can take before the data cluster dies. It’s not a super low number,

      Thats an understatement. 6 years ago you would have to write 2TB each day to a 1TB samsung ssd for it to start losing clusters.

  9. Asdasd says:

    Related reading that I saw on Hacker News the other week:

    https://jacquesmattheij.com/why-johnny-wont-upgrade/

    I know I should keep my software updated. It’s good for my security; it’s good for everyone else’s security. It makes software development more viable as a thing. But the damn feature/UI ‘upgrades’ (which can be subjectively or even objectively be anything but) have made me extremely leary over the years. Even when I open innocuous utilities like CCleaner, FreeFileSync or paint.net, I will habitually refuse offers to update. It sucks.

    1. jpuroila says:

      This? This is a big part of why I use Linux. The trigger for my switch was when a Windows 7 update broke Pale Moon and Firefox. Restoring to a previous version worked, but it was still a pain in the ass.

      Everything comes through package manager, so nothing will try to update itself without my permission. And since I use a “stable” distribution(Ubuntu LTS 18.04, in my case), almost all updates are just bug and security fixes, not feature updates. The big downside(apart from not being able to run arbitrary windows programs without having to tweak something in Wine) is that… there are no feature updates even for programs where that would be useful, but luckily Ubuntu is a big distribution with a lot of support, so I can make sure I get the latest version of Wine by installing the official PPA from Wine’s own site.

      1. tmtvl says:

        Yeah, the lack of proper updates without adding a million and one PPAs is one of the reasons why I started distro-hopping for a bit after using Ubuntu. These days I’ve happily settled down with OpenSUSE, but back in 2014 I was constantly jumping back and forth between OS and Arch.

        1. pseudonym says:

          Snaps do solve this problem for me though. I am on Debian, famous for its stability, notorious for its slow update cycle.
          If I need the latest version of something I can simply snap install it. This doesn’t require ppas and is fairly painless.

        2. jpuroila says:

          For me that’s an upside, since for most things I don’t really want “proper” updates for reasons outlined in the linked blog above. I don’t remember the last time an update from the official repositories caused issues, it’s either something I installed manually or via a PPA.

          On the other hand, PPAs mean that despite being on otherwise stable 18.04, I still get latest versions of things that really benefit from them such as Wine.

  10. Zaxares says:

    Welp, guess I’m continuing to stick to my Windows 7 (manually patched to the very last update they ever rolled out for it) OS for the foreseeable future then. At least until Microsoft does another new OS version.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I just ran into an issue with that. I wanted to get back into playing The Old Republic again, and so updated it but didn’t play it that day, came back later and tried to run it and it’s complaining about a missing DLL. This DLL was supposedly in an update. I didn’t want to update everything and so tried to just install that specific update. Despite trying to install both Windows 7 versions of the update and ensuring that, yes, I have Windows 7, it kept complaining that the update wasn’t valid for my system. Meanwhile, all TOR would say is that I should try reinstalling the software, which I don’t really want to do and instead wanted to kick the TOR client to just update everything again. But since it thinks it has everything it won’t let me ask it to do that. So, without either fully updating or completely reinstalling, TOR won’t work. Fortunately, I have other things to do and so am ignoring it until another update is triggered, or until I get sick of it and really want to fix it.

      1. Fizban says:

        Presuming it gave you the full filename, you should/might? be able to download the exact file from microsoft’s website. That’s how I fixed a similar problem with a different game (it was a 3dxaudio dll).

        1. Daimbert says:

          I did try that, but everyone said to apply the update. That’s another option when I get around to trying that again (I did that to fix Birth of the Federation a couple of times).

    2. chad brown says:

      There isn’t likely to be another version of Windows for a while. They’ve moved to a rolling-updates model with Win10, there’s no longer money to be made from selling updates, they’re OS people don’t work on “versions” anymore, etc. — that model has been replaced, and it won’t be back until the other side of a big shift in some combination of Microsoft+the home PC industry (not like 486 -> Pentium; more like Motorola vs. Intel).

      In practical terms, you’re waiting until Win7 becomes unusable, which is mostly controlled by how often you get new hardware. At some point you’ll want to buy a new device and you won’t be able to shoehorn Win7 on it with an acceptable (to you) amount of effort. Alternatively, you might decide you really want a piece of software that won’t work without Win10, but I’d guess readers here are more likely to want new hardware first.

      Good Luck!

      1. Falling says:

        I wish they chose Windows 7 for their rolling updates :(

        In the mean, I’m riding my Windows 7 to the ground.

        1. Zaxares says:

          Haha, same here! ;) And yeah, I do get where you’re coming from, chad brown. I suspect that when circumstances force me to do a major overhaul of my machine (I built this custom PC about 4 years ago, and although the graphics card/processor arms race has slowed a lot in the last decade or so, I predict I’ll probably need to overhaul my PC again in about 2, 3, maybe 4 years, tops. (Possibly a LOT sooner if it turns out my machine can’t run Cyberpunk 2077 on “Max Pretty” settings.) At that time, I’m sure I’ll have to bite the bullet and install Windows 10 because the hardware just won’t recognize Win7 anymore. But just like you, Falling, until that happens I’m sticking with Old Faithful for as long as possible.

          1. Steve C says:

            I wouldn’t be so sure about the hardware. There have been major changes on that front recently.

            The CPU/GPU market has had big leaps in the past 6 months. Also the chip is at the start of new architecture change. It will be more likely that programs in 3 years will even be able to run on computers of today. (Think the compatibility difference between 32bit and 64bit.) Apple and ARM especially.

            1. Richard says:

              Nobody else is going to jump to ARM for ‘desktop’ use.

              Apople are doing it because they don’t really want to make desktops and laptops, they want to make iPhones and iPads. The margins are better.
              The reason for the Macbook Air is that they don’t think all consumers are ready to give up their keyboards yet (but soon)

              The only reason they make the Macbook Pro and Mac Pro is for developers to write ‘apps’ for iPhone and iPad – it’s not possible to publish iOS apps unless you own a Mac.

              Apple also don’t want to rely on Intel to supply any of their chips. I think that’s partly because Intel messed up with baseband chips, but mostly because Apple are a small enough part of Intel’s business that they don’t have to jump to Apple’s tune.
              I am pretty sure that Apple is going to buy a chip fab in the next decade so they aren’t beholden to TSMC too…

              1. Steve C says:

                M’kay? Wasn’t my point at all. ARM is just the clearest example of many.
                My point is we are on the edge of a hardware change that is akin to the change between 32bit and 64bit for software compatibility issues. Especially for OSes. It was not the weeds of why.

                My point was the industry is moving off hardware plateau of the past 5-10yrs is ending. The times, they are a changing.

                1. Richard says:

                  Sorry, I wasn’t clear.
                  My point is that backwards compatibility is king in the desktop/laptop and server markets.

                  Nobody who cares about these markets is going to make it so you cannot run today’s software on tomorrow’s hardware, because it is commercial suicide.

                  Apple are only doing this because they don’t care about these markets.

                  Intel tried to do this with the ia64 microarchitecture.
                  It could not run existing 16 or 32 bit software at all, and was initially aimed at the server market. Microsoft was paid quite a lot to port their toolchains and Windows Server to this architecture.

                  ia64 is dead and buried.
                  There are no ia64 chips available for sale anywhere.

                  AMD made the amd64 microarchitecture, which can run 16bit, 32bit and 64bit applications – with 32bit and 64bit supported simultaneously.

                  Almost every Linux, Windows and macOS “PC” and server uses amd64.

                  (* 16bit mode is only available at boot and goes away when you enable 64bit)

                  1. Steve C says:

                    Ok, we are definitely talking at cross purposes here. I’m talking about *not* upgrading. The thread I was replying to was specifically about “riding Windows 7 to the ground.” A few months ago that was only known as a nebulous future time. My point about hardware changing is that we can now see where the ground is. The current computer architecture being developed is going to break all current OSes. This is an issue for Falling, Zaxares and myself who are “sticking with Old Faithful for as long as possible.” IE the people I was replying to about the subject I was replying to.

                  2. Steve C says:

                    Though for the record, I disagree that backwards compatibility is king. We can look at history. Power PC to Intel x86 was rife with compatibility problems. I have a copy of Windows XP that will work in any way on my current machine. Not even the emergency self contained boot drives for diagnostic and recovery. This is not surprising. We can also look at the announced plans by manufacturers.

                    Nobody who cares about these markets is going to make it so you cannot run today’s software on tomorrow’s hardware,

                    If you believe that Win7 will work under the computer architecture that will be common in 3yrs then we will have to just agree to disagree. There’s no right answer until that comes to pass or doesn’t.

                    I’m not refusing to use Windows 10 because I’m a Luddite nor stuck on yesterday’s hardware. I refuse to use it because I don’t want “features” like the Windows Store, Cortana, Edge, Windows Media Player etc. I consider it all malware. I especially do not want to experience update bullshit like Shamus that instigated his post.

  11. Athtatar says:

    Its a long shot but I used to have significant issues with Windows updates where the update would freeze after reboot at 36% (i think that was the number). When I restated it would roll back. This happened everytime I tired to update so I didn’t update for about 2 years. I eventually managed to force one by installing from scratch and the machine basically bricked itself (machine would blue screen of death within 22min of starting, every time).

    After some trouble shooting I found out it was an issue with my ssd drive. Turned out I need to update the firmware for the ssd interal coding. I basically had to create a boot up disk to boot into the ssd drive’s internal os to perform an update. After I did this, the problem was solved and I have had no issues with updates since then.

  12. raifield says:

    I’d be much happier with Windows Update if it provided something like Resource Manager while it was working so that I could see what files it was touching. That wouldn’t actually help me any, but I’d certainly feel better knowing what was happening with my own computer. Microsoft treats the computer like this inconvenient thing you, not they, happen to own, a fact which they work to ignore.

    Fortunately I’ve not yet had a negative experience with Windows Update, but give me time.

    Supposedly the next rendition of Windows is going to be a subscription-based, so we’ll see how that goes.

    1. Daimbert says:

      I think that would kill Windows for me for pretty much anything. I’m already chafing at Windows 10’s odd notion of updating. I can use consoles for games and Linux for most other things. Programming — at least for what I generally want to do –would actually be easier for me, and I’d adapt to whatever office software it had. About the biggest risk would be issues if I ever wanted to put something out that wanted to run on Windows, but since I haven’t done anything like that yet maybe that’s not a concern [grin].

      1. John says:

        About the biggest risk would be issues if I ever wanted to put something out that wanted to run on Windows . . .

        There are a variety of ways to approach this problem. The easiest is probably Python (or something like it). You don’t need to compile Python code, so as long as you aren’t using the code to execute OS-specific commands it should be thoroughly portable. To be as safe as possible, you’d want to use a GUI library that’s packaged with Python, which, in my admittedly limited experience, means tkinter. That way the Windows user won’t have to download anything other than Python itself.

        There’s also Java (and possibly similar languages like C#). You do need to compile Java code, but the class files you create on Linux should be perfectly functional on Windows as long as you compile to a version of Java as old or older than the version you’re running on Windows. Code with OS-specific commands is still an issue, but you can write code that checks which OS it’s running on and handle the problem with branching logic. As with Python, you are safer using a GUI library that’s packaged with Java, which in this case means Swing.

        1. Daimbert says:

          Yeah, that’s ultimately why I said that programming would be easier because I’m already using those languages in a UNIX environment. The only issue would be having a version of Windows to test on if I wanted to claim that it officially worked there, and fixing bugs in Windows in case something did go wrong.

    2. Nimrandir says:

      Supposedly the next rendition of Windows is going to be a subscription-based, so we’ll see how that goes.

      Well, if so, that’ll be the end of my owning a personal computer. I don’t open the GOGBox enough to justify paying for Windows each month, and I don’t have the mental energy to learn my way around another OS.

      Is Microsoft just giving up on the non-corporate world?

      1. raifield says:

        Is Microsoft just giving up on the non-corporate world?

        Beats me, but I wouldn’t be surprised. The days of Windows being a thing to help people use their computer (Windows 1.x through 3.x arguably) instead of a platform to become locked into (95 maybe, certainly ME/2k onwards) has been long over and there’s a lot more profit in selling enterprise Office 365 subscriptions with One Drive for Business and, hey, did we mention how easy it is to shift your Windows servers to Azure?

        Non-corporate users will eventually become enterprise customers courtesy of some sort of integration with Azure & Office 365, but they won’t know it when it happens. It’ll just be oh so easy to drop in a credit card when you boot up your computer for the first time and presto, everything is ready!

    3. Veylon says:

      Telling you what is going on also has the benefit of telling you what is going on when it hangs up so you can either figure out what went wrong, tell someone else so they can figure it out, or complain directly to Microsoft about a specific thing.

      I have no idea why they thought obfuscating everything was a good idea.

  13. John says:

    I know you need Windows for professional reasons, Shamus, so I will not tell you to switch to Linux. Instead, I’m just going to be quietly grateful that I don’t need Windows for any reason. I last tried Windows a year or two ago and, while I didn’t have any truly awful experiences, I still hated it. Even when Windows 10 was working properly, I had this horrible sense that my computer wasn’t really mine, that I was just borrowing it from Microsoft. I won’t claim that Linux is perfect and it’s certainly not for everyone, but my experience with Linux system updates has been vastly more pleasant than my experience with Windows updates. Every Linux distribution I’ve ever tried–which I’ll admit is really not all that many–has (a) told me what updates I’m downloading, (b) told me how long the downloads will take, (c) told me which update it’s currently installing, and (d) shown me a progress bar so that I have some idea how close it is to being done. And unlike Windows updates Linux updates seldom require a reboot after they’re finished. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Linux update take more than fifteen minutes, not even when updating the kernel. Most of them take much, much less than that. Linux updates are much more frequent than Windows updates, partly because the same system that handles OS updates also handles library and application updates, but if for some reason you can’t run an update Linux will let you put it off as long as you like.

    1. Philadelphus says:

      I was thinking the same thing (about Shamus not being able to switch, and being grateful for not being on Windows any more). It’s painful just reading about this, as I too hate restarting my computer and having to reopen all my windows again. (One of the very few things I like about macOS is the option to have it do that for you.) I think the only time I’ve ever had to restart my computer after an upgrade was when it happened to upgrade my Nvidia drivers, and that’s only because I was too lazy to figure how to stop and restart the display manager.

      1. Liam says:

        Win 10 will also (should?) re-open all the stuff you had open before rebooting. I find it’s a bit hit-and-miss though.

        1. tmtvl says:

          KDE should do that as well. And Dolphin (the KDE file manager) recently got an update that allows it to save your tabs when you quit, just like a web browser.

          1. Philadelphus says:

            Ah, interesting. I’m using Cinnamon on Debian, I might go looking to see if it offers anything like that.

        2. Richard says:

          I hate that misfeature. It’s incredibly broken.

          Windows doesn’t ask. Usually I’m shutting down because I’m done, and I don’t want them back.
          macOS does at least ask, and remembers the state of the tickybox.

          If I wanted them back I’d hibernate instead.

          It attempts to re-start processes in a random order, without any notion of what they were doing or how they are related.
          This often means waiting many minutes for it to open a pile of application instances, all of which are empty because Windows and macOS have no way of asking them what they were doing.

          macOS updates though… Every single time I lose the entire day. Even when updating a single app – xcode usually takes more than three hours.
          At least with Windows 7 and 10 I usually only lose five minutes.
          On Linux I don’t think it’s taken more than five minutes ever.

    2. tmtvl says:

      Also chiming in with my condolences to Windows users. I’ve become so used to the convenience and ease-of-use of GNU/Linux that nowadays whenever I’m forced to interact with Windows (still have family members who refuse to switch), it kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
      The situation for Windows users in a way reminds me of the bad AAA video game developing studios which hire a bunch of recent graduates, death-march them until they’re broken, and then fire them. While I am sure MS doesn’t mean to inflict psychological abuse on the people who are forced (by an undeniable need for software that simply won’t work under another OS) to use Windows, but the end result is bad nevertheless.
      And to think that if they only were to adopt FOSS tenets, the tech-literate users who are frustrated with the state of Windows could fix things up (which I have done with a number of tools I’ve used). This is why I’ve taken to calling proprietary software “proprietary crapware”, as it’s a crapshoot whether or not major grievances will A) get fixed in an update and B) not get introduced in an update.

      MacOS, while I haven’t used it since El Capitan back in 2015 hurt me more than Windows, though. I had to use it at work and it made me absolutely miserable. As terrible as Windows is, at least it’s better than that.

      Also the GNU/Linux community is seeing a lot of innovation (for example, zypper, the OpenSUSE package manager, can tell you whether or not you need a reboot as well as which services, if any, need restarting after an update), so it’s an exciting place to be.

  14. Zanmatoer says:

    I haven’t used it myself but this post reminded me of a recent video from Linus Tech Tips:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwkiU6GG-YU (ignore the awful title, the content is better than the title suggests)

    This is a version of Windows with lots of stuff ripped out of it, including the auto-updating feature. Might be worth a look if you need to re-install windows anyway?

  15. Duoae says:

    Wow, that is incredibly crappy luck. Seemingly on multiple occasions! I don’t think i ever had a bad update but then i switch off my pc every day and perform updates as soon as they’re required (more because of OCD than actual worry about hacking and stuff – e.g. anything with a number in a bubble on an icon makes me want it to go away).

    Hopefully you’ll get this under control soon, Shamus!

  16. Ryan says:

    Several months ago I had an update that I started in the early afternoon around 2 PM, and when I went to bed it was still not done. I woke up in the morning, came downstairs, and it was literally just finishing the final reboot. I can’t fathom what would take it 16 hours. Considering that normally updates are in the range of about 10 minutes, it really was strikingly odd.

    About a year ago, I had a near horror story of an update. It was one of those big annual mega updates that they’ve done regularly since Win10 launched, and I figured it was going to be a long one but otherwise no problem since I had waited a whole week or two for the early adopters to show me if there were any warning signs. The problem was that I also had bitlocker on, and since my laptop was from 2015, there was no hardware module for it. That means I had to input the passphrase at each start up. Windows is smart enough to recognize that, and helpfully offered for me to put the code in once that it would temporarily store in order for it to complete the update without me needing to be there for each of its multiple restarts. Big mistake. Somewhere in the process it completely screwed up my machine, and in the end I got lucky and was able to salvage things by removing the hard drive and finding my old hard drive to USB converter and plugging it into my main desktop, and then using the back up key to decrypt the drive. Once it was decrypted and installed back in my laptop, the update finished as if nothing had ever been wrong.

  17. Will says:

    https://jacquesmattheij.com/why-johnny-wont-upgrade/

    It’s a real issue, because in fact you really should update—most updates are fixing minor issues that probably don’t affect you or aren’t exploitable in a typical home setup, but every now and then you get a real serious issue¹, and of course Windows Update makes no effort to distinguish those. Also, malware these days is rarely destructive and in fact will go to some lengths to hide (the notable exception being ransomware, which is generally targeted); instead, it just adds you to a Russian botnet or uses idle CPU cycles to mine cryptocurrencies. “My computer is obviously screwed up” hasn’t been a good heuristic for malware detection in probably close to a decade.

    This suggestion is probably a non-starter for a bunch of other reasons, but a friendly Linux distro would not have this particular issue, and a bunch of your tooling—at the very least Unity, VS Code, Chrome and Blender—is all available for it. Obviously you’d need to keep a Windows install around for gaming, but you at least wouldn’t be completely dependent on it not breaking itself.

    As for what the update was doing? If you made me bet on it, I’d put money on “deadlocked”—waiting for something that was never going to happen, either an internal process that didn’t report its status right or some piece of hardware that didn’t act the way the update expected it to.

    —-

    ¹ My favorite fact about this particular issue is that it is yet another font parsing vulnerability giving remote code execution. I swear there have been dozens of these. Webfonts are a thing why, exactly?

    1. Echo Tango says:

      My hunch on web-fonts, is that it makes it easier for “non-technical” people to view websites with those fonts. If you visit somewhere that needs a special font, what ways could that situation progress? Does the user just see a font that’s the wrong width, spacing, etc, and it messes up the website? Do they get a message saying they need to install the font? Does that message come from the website, browser, or OS, and how does the user distinguish a legitimate request, from one that’s trying to install malware? If it happens automatically, and the security concerns are all handled in some way by the browser or OS devs, then that provides the easiest path for the user.

  18. Dreadjaws says:

    I have a “fun” Microsoft story for you, Shamus. I didn’t have trouble with an update, but a week ago or so I thought I’d have a try at this famous Xbox Game Pass thing, so I went to the website and rather than try to join from there I clicked the prominent “Install the App” link, which downloaded the installer for the Xbox App, which I proceeded to execute.

    This thing crippled my machine. Suddenly Windows was suffering from constant short freezes. Whenever I tried to do something like download a file, open a new tab or simply write in a text box like this one the entire thing would freeze for a few seconds before allowing me to continue, and sometimes a few times later in the process. Writing a comment like this one would take me way longer than normal. Watching a YouTube video would have the video randomly stop while the audio continued in the background, and a few seconds later the video would fast forward to catch up with the audio. This was worse in games. A few old games would have this problem be annoying, but anything new (I just had started Jedi Fallen Order) would become unplayable, since the freezes would occur every few seconds.

    I uninstalled the Xbox App, but the problem, while diminished, persisted. Fallen Order was still unusable. I desperately tried to google for a solution, but while there were a few different things to try, most of them didn’t work and one (updating all the drivers) actually made the issue worse (though not as bad as when the Xbox App was still installed). Curiously most threads involving these random freezes seemed to blame some old update from several months ago, while I knew for a fact that mine were caused by the damn Xbox App, and there was nothing on the web about the app causing these freezes.

    Anyway, by pure chance I happened to realize that the freezes would only occur if Chrome was open. I have no idea why. No clue why the freaking Xbox App affected the goddamn browser this way, why the problem didn’t go away when I uninstalled it and if there’s a solution that doesn’t involve reinstalling, which I haven’t tried due to a severe lack of free time, which I personally prefer not having to spend trying to fix a problem that might not go away easily. But at least now I can play Fallen Order.

    The icing on the cake? It turns out that Xbox Game Pass isn’t even available in my country. I only found out because after several pages of following the procedure to make the purchase I didn’t actually get a “Pay” button, so I looked for a list of available countries and lo and behold, mine was missing. If the godforsaken thing had simply told me it wasn’t available in the first fucking page like it should, then I wouldn’t be in this situation. Again, Microsoft creates preventable problems by failing at the most basic tasks.

    1. Duoae says:

      Were you convinced to try Microsoft(TM) Edge?

      ;)

      1. nog says:

        New Edge is chromium anyways, so they’ll have to show actual competency, if it’s even possible, to cripple one and not the other.

  19. Joshua says:

    Ironically, I also had an update issue yesterday that crippled my machine, which is odd because it’s supposed to notify me that updates are available and prompt me to shut down or restart to update, not do it on its own. Whatever.

    Anyway, yesterday morning I tried to log into work and it told me my password was incorrect. Which is odd, since I don’t have a password on my desktop. Also odd, because it wasn’t prompting me for a password, just telling me it was incorrect. Eventually, I was able to search around on my laptop and find out that it was an occasional error that removes the password box. After trying a few different things, I eventually elected to restore to an earlier point (I learned about holding the shift key while selecting the Restart option, so I guess that’s something). I restored to the previous day, which took an hour and a half, but I was at least able to get into my computer at that point.

    1. Joshua says:

      Sigh, and after typing this and deciding to go log into work, I discovered the computer had pushed through the update again and my PC is once again broken.

    2. Melfina the Blue says:

      My laptop has now decided to tell me it can’t log on any time I get my password incorrect, instead of telling me I got my password incorrect. Wonder if it’s a related thing (I’d assumed the new message was a weird security thing once I got over the heart attack)… I can see someone changing the code for what actions are taken when a password is wrong and not realizing that would affect some accounts (or all accounts or accounts that are in arrears to the Flying Spaghetti Monster or who knows what else) without passwords set because well, I kinda imagine all of Windows code is one huge depository of “Functions Man Was Not Meant To Know” written by Cthulhu and his spawn…

  20. Forty-Bot says:

    cough cough install linux cough cough

    we even have visual studio (code)

    1. tmtvl says:

      If you are going to link to VSCode, you may as well link to VSCodium, which has the telemetry and tracking removed.

      1. Forty-Bot says:

        Cool, I wasn’t aware of that. I just use vim myself :P

        1. tmtvl says:

          I somehow managed to quit vim ;-) and switched to Emacs. If you’re ever in the mood for something fresh I recommend giving Doom Emacs a look. It has vim-style keybinds plus a bevvy of niceties out of the box.

        2. Nimrandir says:

          I remember how excited I was when I put vim on my old 486 machine back in college. I think that was the same semester I took assembly language and learned to multiply numbers without a multiplication command.

    2. pseudonym says:

      Visual studio code is not a replacement for visual studio.

      Visual studio is an IDE.

      Visual Studio Code is a text editor with syntax highlighting and code inspection plugins. Yes, it is very useful, but no, it can’t compete with a proper IDE.

      For python development for instance, VSC is quite good, but Pycharm (my python IDE of choice) blows it out of the water. Especially when you are debugging or refactoring. If you are tracking down bugs that need full code introspection while the code is running, a glorified text editor is just not gonna cut it.

      I can imagine the same goes for C# development and visual studio.

      Having said that: the monodevelop IDE is available on linux.

      1. Richard says:

        ^^ This

        VSCode is a toy, not an IDE.

        Personally I use Qt Creator for C/C++ on macOS and Linux.

  21. Mark Ayen says:

    We run into this all the time in my office environment. A patch will get hung and never complete. (To be clear, it might complete sometime before the sun consumes the Earth, but I’m not willing to wait that long. I can say with confidence that some have hung for more than 48 hours before I gave up and forced a shutdown.) So, it’s possible your machine would never have completed the update no matter how long you waited. Is this kind of sloppy programming defensible? Hell no, but Microsoft is effectively a monopoly in the business world, so there’s really nothing you can do about it except backup your data nightly.

  22. Dev Null says:

    Great. Thanks Shamus. I have an “update needed” icon and now I’m terrified.

    1. Melfina the Blue says:

      Dev, if it’s the same one I was prompted to run earlier this week, it was fine for me (Lenovo laptop, less than a year old, no externals plugged in at the time of updating, and I have no idea how long it took because I told it to do it at 3 am while I was asleep and it was done by like 7:30ish when I looked at my machine again). It did give me a mild heart attack when I fat-fingered my password for the first time post-reboot, so if you see that message about can’t log in, don’t panic….

      May it go smoothly for you when you must update! I’d share my update luck, but I kinda need it, this is my only machine (and game player, book reader, phone, music player, and sanity saver since my Kindle and mp3 player both died last week and I’m still stuck in 24/7 surrounded by people way crazier than me). But I sincerely hope for the best for you (and Shamus to figure out wth happened other than Windows be crazy and for his solution to be as painless as possible given well, Windows).

  23. lethal_guitar says:

    My only guess for the cause of these kinds of things is a deadlock or similar – something is stuck waiting for another thread or process to finish, but it never does.

  24. GargamelLeNoir says:

    Not to victim blame you because absolutely fuck’s Microsoft’s comical level of incompetence, but I have to recommend only launching updates at night, not during your work day.

    1. Will says:

      In this particular case, the daytime Windows update was forced by a bone-hurtingly incompetent VS Code update demanding the system be restarted.

      (It’s possible that logging out and back in again, or just ignoring the injunction to restart, would have worked. But this being Windows, it’s equally possible it wouldn’t have.)

    2. Chad Miller says:

      I don’t think it gives you a choice if you’re restarting the computer.

      At least I know I’ve found myself thinking “Come ON! I didn’t even want to run this update because I was rebooting to switch OSes, you dipshits!”

      1. Daimbert says:

        For Windows 10, nope. You can either reboot your system and update, or else shut down your system and update. Fortunately, my personal Windows 10 system is something that I use for very specific things that can usually be delayed, and I have another laptop if that one goes a bit flaky. My work system is hooked up to the infrastructure of a major telecom company and so THEY do all the updating. It can be as annoying, but at least it’s less likely to break something.

        1. The Puzzler says:

          My Windows 10 power menu is currently offering me both ‘Update and Restart’ and ‘Restart’ options…

          1. Paul Spooner says:

            Yeah, I’ve noticed it sometimes gives the option to just shut down normally, without applying the update. Progress… of a sort?

  25. krellen says:

    I look forward to the next article ranting about how Microsoft will not allow you to disable Update.

    1. Steve C says:

      I don’t believe it is possible to disable Update in Win10. You have to do a full remove.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Yeah, I looked. You can delay it, but not disable it. And if it wants to do something important like tell you about Edge that was already there and that you were ignoring, it will ignore that, too.

        1. RFS-81 says:

          Can you do some hosts-file shenanigans? Like, pointing all Windows Update related hostnames to localhost?

          1. Steve C says:

            Pretty sure you can’t. If it was that simple then all the more complex solutions would never had been needed.

    2. Ciennas says:

      Yeah, I tried, and it Ring 0’d its way back on.

  26. Jaedar says:

    One of the best things about still using windows 7 is that there are no more updates, so no need to worry. One day there will be a video game I want to play that won’t support it, but it hasn’t happened yet.

    I have windows 10 at work, but then I just run it for months without restarting and only do the updates on slow days. My coworkers sometimes give me some grief over this, but better that than be held hostage to microsoft.

    1. Steve C says:

      Well except for the extra updates that happened since Win7 stopped getting updates. Which broke it for some people.

  27. tmtvl says:

    Then it ends with a message telling me that I need to restart my computer before I can continue.

    Wait, what? Why do you need a reboot after updating an IDE? If I update Eclipse I don’t need a reboot. Is VS hooked into the kernel somehow? This is just giving me all kinds of software architectural headaches.
    I can’t even begin to comprehend how messed up this is. It’s like if you needed to remove the engine of a car (hey, car analogies) to change the hood ornament.

    1. Steve C says:

      When that happens I’m more annoyed that it just didn’t reboot for me.
      “shutdown -s -t 300”
      5min warning to shutdown or cancel. Is that so hard AUTOMATIC update?

    2. Richard says:

      “Visual Studio” is also the MSBuild/MSVC toolchain, debugger and the C/C++ runtime used by the majority of Windows applications.

      It is almost never actually necessary to reboot, however there are occasions where some components rely on others being restarted, and it’s difficult to untangle the dependency chain so the installer doesn’t try.

      Since moving to VS2017 onwards I have never had to reboot after updating VS, only after the initial installation.

      That said, there’s a few thing that can only be reliably set at login or boot, as every running process gets their own private copy.

  28. neminem says:

    Couldn’t agree more. It’s especially worrying on my work computer, given that a. I don’t really have a choice, b. if something breaks, it’s on my work computer, where I’m expected to be able to do work, c. I’m no longer in the office, so I can’t even just walk downstairs and tell IT an update broke my computer, and d. since I didn’t want to let work have complete control over my personal phone, which they required in order to be able to chat to people from any device other than my work computer, if my work computer *does* die in an update, I don’t even have *any* way to talk to IT about it. Pretty terrible!

    I have a couple hypotheses on why it would take that long, but none of them are *good* (in the sense that they would make sense, but would be absolutely horrible for them to have slipped testing). One would be possibly a “Shlemiel the Painter” type issue, where if you haven’t updated in a while, it checks to see if file 1 is updated, then it checks to see if filed 1 is updated before checking if file 2 is, then it checks if file 1 and 2 are before checking file 3, etc., so that could take exponential time for no reason. The other, of course, is that it’s just buggy as frack, and literally just deadlocked itself forever waiting on its own already-completed thing to complete. That one’s probably the most likely. I freaking hate Windows updates.

  29. Narkis says:

    Posts like this make me really, really happy I’m still using Win7. My PC may be part of a Russian botnet by now, but at least it’s not affecting my work in any meaningful way.

  30. ElementalAlchemist says:

    I know Windows 10 is free, but I’d gladly pay full price if it was possible to obtain (say) a copy of Windows 7 that supports modern games.

    You’d be much better off obtaining a copy of Win 10 LTSC. No “feature” updates, just security updates for 10 years. And no Windows Store or other crapware either, which you’d no doubt appreciate. Naturally you can understand why MS doesn’t want anyone using it.

  31. RandomInternetCommenter says:

    I feel for you, Shamus. I’ve had the same experience: hacking is simply not a problem for those of us who don’t browse shady Russian porn sites and don’t reuse “password123” for every account. On the other hand Windows updates are crippling.

    I’ve stopped accepting updates somewhere after the first service pack of Windows 7. My bank account is still fine, and my blood pressure went down.

    The state of operating systems is maddening, considering how ubiquitous computer work is these days. And then there’s the update apologists/fetichists, who call you a monster for not willfully submitting to this kind of nonsense. Is it too much to ask for something stable that just works?

  32. zackoid says:

    The regular software updates are good and should be automatic and mandatory.

    The OS upgrades have been a rolling disaster and should not be mandatory for like two years after their release. I had one last night, it appeared to hang but hitting enter a few times on a black screen got it going again, for some reason? So it might not have taken so long if you had checked in on it, Shamus. I also had all my USB devices reinstalled when it came back up, but haven’t had any problems.

    That said, I use all the major PC operating systems for various purposes and have had trouble with dist-upgrades on debian-based OSes and horrible problems with OSX upgrades, making fundamental changes to existing OSes is a challenge.

    1. FluffySquirrel says:

      Even 2 years is a lot, you’re absolutely right though, if the forced auto updates ran like, a few months after the release.. they’d probably have plenty of time to actually fix the things. That seems like a perfectly reasonable and simple solution, so I’m quite sure that microsoft won’t go with it.

      God I hate win10

  33. Steve C says:

    My own most recent automatic upgrade bullshit story happened two days ago. PLEX updated. My rewind button now fast forwards by 30seconds. My fast forward button now fast forwards by 5mins. Why?
    Yay! So useful!

  34. FluffySquirrel says:

    Yup, my opinion is exactly the same, I’ve had windows updates do more damage to my various devices than any virus or malware ever has. There’s no hyperbole there, it’s full on facts. It’s absolutely ridiculous, and the worst thing is that pretty much all of these are only windows 10

    I had the odd kerfuffle in earlier versions.. but they were very minor, and generally a simple rollback was easy to do and caused no fuss whatsoever.. would then just wait a month or so to run the updates again, and they’d have fixed whatever it is by that point. Minor hassle

    Windows 10 though. It’s just *awful* .. I’ve had issues where it breaks things. I roll back.. it .. rolls back.. THEN IMMEDIATELY INSTALLS THE UPDATE AGAIN.. like, what the hell?! Why would you not program it so that if you run a rollback, it .. I dunno, maybe tells it to leave a while before the next auto update?! I just gave up on one tablet. Whatever the update had done had practically bricked it for my purposes. The audio driver was just completely kaput. I only used it for rain noise while sleeping, so.. that was dead

    I’ve had windows 10 ruin my audio drivers and make sound go all crappy so many times that I have instructions saved at various times in my discord history, so I can search for how to fix it. It has happened at least 3 times

    Worst damn OS ever. I see more and more people start to veer towards unix options.. if I wasn’t so into playing games, I’d be tempted too, cause damn if I’m not gonna be leery as hell to getting any microsoft products at this point

    1. tmtvl says:

      While I will sing the siren song of Steamplay and Proton and 11k games confirmed working…
      I still doubt our actual numbers are increasing much, which is fine. Free Software respects users freedom, even to choose something harmful.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Indeed. Unless you really want to play the latest AAA or online multiplayer game with intrusive always-on anti-cheat DRM, Linux now has more games than anyone could possibly hope to play in a single lifetime.

        1. utzel says:

          Steam has over 30.000 games, but scrolling through the store I doubt I want to play enough of them to last me a lifetime ;)
          Sorry for the snide remark, I get what you are saying. It just very much depends on what games you want to play and how close to release (and you still might be SOL later).
          But the chances it will work are getting better, that’s great. My “type” of games are sadly a long way from working, so I’m stuck

  35. Ramsus says:

    I had a big update like that recently. Though it still gave me progress indicators… I think. I knew it was going to be a big update…. and it wanted to do it the day after PG&E warned people it might have to shut off power for 1-2 hours at some point between morning and the whole evening (what an extremely useful time window). And then the fires started. So I just hit the “nope, don’t update for a week” button. And then fire stuff was still happening so I did it again.
    And then the closest fire was contained enough (not that it’s even 100% contained *now*) and I had to go to my regular monthly allergist appointment to get poked with stuff. Which due to COVID, I walk to. An hour each way and a 30 minute wait in the office. So I took that as the perfect opportunity to do this massive update. I started the update about half an hour before I left the house because I had to do dishes and wanted to make sure the update was working properly before leaving the house. When I left it was telling it was at something like 3% done.
    I was still waiting about half an hour after I got home.
    And then windows had another batch of five minute updates to do. (Though of course just restarting my old machine means that’s 10 minutes from restart until I can do anything.)

    And also for the last year Window has me stuck with this notification that I need to restart to finish an update. That doesn’t go away no matter what I do.

  36. kikito says:

    Just a reminder that “proper” operative systems (ehem ehem Linux) can be upgraded while you use them (non-kernel parts are replaced on the fly, the kernel requires a reboot but the new one can be installed alongside the existing one). But yes they don’t support all the modern games, and yes sometimes they are a pain to maintain (“ok I need to edit the graphics settings again”).

    Which is why I use Mac for work-related stuff. And a separate Windows 7 machine for games (I don’t need the fancy new stuff).

    My bet is that your update was deadlocked. A process was waiting for file A, while holding a reference to file B, and a different process was doing the reverse. And none of them had fallbacks or timeouts (or the fallback was to retry forever).

  37. Grey Rook says:

    I have been using Win10 in a minor role for a laptop and for work, but articles like this really make me dread my impending desktop upgrade. I usually have a lot of luck with bugs and glitches, but it only takes one to mess up my system and leave me SOL, since my computer knowledge is lackluster. I really wish that I knew how to use Linux, but I don’t and I don’t know how to learn, either. :(

    1. tmtvl says:

      If you’re GNU/Linux-curious you could always grab VirtualBox and try Linux Mint in a VM. It’s a good way to get your feet wet before jumping in.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        Seconding the recommendation that Linux Mint is a good option for a new user looking to switch from Windows (it’s what I started with). The best way to learn my opinion is to just jump in and try it out, and ask questions when something doesn’t work the way you expect. We were all new users once, and happy to share. :)

  38. ryanlb says:

    This is not at all meant to belittle or deny your experiences with or feelings to Windows, merely to point out mine have been different.

    In my experience, Windows 10 is better than 7 was. It’s not perfect, and I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of Windows, but I do like 10. I am also a programmer, though not of the graphically intensive kind you are, but it sounds like we use computers in much the same way. I also have some sort of averse-to-closing-browser-tabs mental issue, so I have Firefox running with 4-6 windows and anywhere from 200-300 tabs open (currently down towards 200, so yay, progress), and chrome has 10 or 11 windows and IDK how many tabs because I’ve never installed a plugin that tells me. if it’s under 200 I’d be flabbergasted. Plus my two IDEs, because I can’t bring myself to use Eclipse for anything other than Java (if you want me to complain about performance issues, and bad upgrades, Eclipse is a great target for that) plus all the various MS Office crap I have to use, SQL Server Management Studio, and various Windows Explorer windows.

    Anyway, 10 preforms pretty well for me, until one of Chrome or Firefox starts eating too much memory, but usually just restarting that program returns my performance for a couple of days, then I usually have to reboot. Reboots are pretty quick, and painless. All my windows go back to where they belong when I restart the program, and the only thing that’s a drag and why I dont’ shut everything down every night is because restoring all the browser windows and tabs can take a few minutes.

    I do dislike updating Windows, because it does usually take 1-2 hours. I’ve only had it kill my computer once, a couple of years ago when I had been on the experimental updates path, and I decided to get off it, that switchover broke, and I had to reinstall everything, but other than that one time, updates have been time consuming, but not painful beyond that. It’s curious that it gives you such trouble.

    I don’t think you can disable automatic updates, beyond delaying it for 45 days at a time. Unless that’s a work-enforced policy for me.

  39. ccesarano says:

    The lock-up sounds similar to what I was running into with the new computer. Not precisely, but similar. It’s possible the update did something that messed with your power settings, which was the source of my trouble.

    Settings > Power & Sleep > Additional Power Settings > Change Advanced Power Settings

    It’s horrific that it takes that long to get where you need to, but in that list, check PCI Express > Link State Power Management. You’ll want it to be “off”. When I had it on, it would occasionally freeze my computer for a few seconds. It was infuriating.

    I doubt that’s what’s happening with you, but on the off chance it is, that’s what helped me out.

    1. The Puzzler says:

      I don’t see a Change Advanced Power Settings option on my machine. Maybe it’s only available on certain editions of Windows?

      1. ccesarano says:

        Sorry, I missed a step. There’s just regular “Change Plan Settings” under each mode (High Performance, Balanced, etc.). That’s what you hit before Change Advanced Power Settings is available.

        I don’t know enough about computers to know if this causes issues for everyone, but it was the issue I found on Google that was causing my problem.

        Computers, man.

  40. Misamoto says:

    They probably just fucked up some async code and got the update into a deadlock state

  41. Zeta Kai says:

    As per usual, Windows’ suicidal fuckery is grist for the content mill. Shamus can take his computer shitting the bed & turn it into an entertaining article like nobody else. Godspeed you, Black Programmer.

  42. RFS-81 says:

    I count myself lucky that I didn’t ever have any problem like this. The weirdest thing I had is that my old work laptop sometimes would hang during shutdown. I’d start the shutdown and go home, then I turn it on the next day and it turns out that it was trying to shutdown for so long that it went into hibernation.

    Also, sometimes it turned itself on for no reason during the night.

    The IT guys had no idea why any of that happened, but when they upgraded it to Windows 10 it randomly fixed itself.

    1. Melfina the Blue says:

      My old laptop had issues like that, and 10 fixed it as well. No clue why, and Lenovo had no idea, though they did say I shouldn’t upgrade and I said Nuts to that I hate Eight.

  43. Uristqwerty says:

    Looking at existing technologies for hibernate mode, virtual machines, containerization, etc., I imagine it could be possible to suspend all running applications, upgrade the OS, and bring back the applications still running (though with old library versions until they individually are restarted, and an extra shim layer between them and the OS, adapting any system functions that have changed) after the update.

    But that would take work, and worse, it’d actually be a feature that consumers want for once, not one that appeases ad partners and marketing or re-installs candy crush for the Nth time.

  44. Christopher says:

    My laptop just shut down by itself, tried to update, couldn’t update, told me not to shut it off, and was stuck like that for 30 minutes before I shut it off. And then did it again. Then it worked again.

    I can’t pin this on this blog but I’d like to try

  45. Storm says:

    Ye gods I feel for you Shamus. Just last weekend I needed to shut down my computer for a while and saw the dreaded update icon, and decided to bite the bullet. By the time I turn it back on, it seems to work fine, until you try to run.. basically any program. I don’t know what happened, but trying to open just about anything that wasn’t Firefox or a text editor resulted in an immediate crash and a generic error message. Hilariously, even the Settings program in Windows would crash on startup, which might be the most I’ve seen a Windows update fuck up my machine without outright bricking it.

    After a couple days of trying to suss out the issue I gave up and reinstalled Windows itself, so now I’m back in the process of nursing my poor machine back into usefulness. A nice reminder of why updates instill a sense of terror.

    (Also, on top of all this, the last thing I saw before realizing my computer was boned was that the update forcibly installed Edge on my computer and was nagging me to make it my default browser, you know, like malware. So that was a nice final kick in the teeth)

  46. Seven hours is crazy. I just did probably the same update yesterday and it took like . . . 5 minutes.

    1. Andrew_CC says:

      Windows source code:
      “If user=(Shamus.Young) then (update.speed)=0.01”

      1. Apparently so.

        If it is related to Windows somehow categorizing files it’d make sense, because I have very little in the way of data squirreled away on my machine. I don’t have any massive storage drives, just video games.

        1. Sven says:

          The amount of data on your machine shouldn’t affect update speed. Installed applications and especially drivers might, but it still shouldn’t matter.

          The only thing I’ve ran into a thing like that is when logging in to my machine was taking literally an hour, and it turns out my Temp folder had 100GB in tiny files somehow and I guess it was trying to delete them on logon or something.

  47. Frank says:

    I like to do the Windows update and any installs such as Visual Studio just before I go to bed. I can update and restart/shut down and it has all night to finish. I do remember one time when Windows Update took about 2 hours to run, but it did eventually finish.

    It’s possible that it scans everything on your hard drives looking for items that need to be added to the restore point. I definitely see a correlation between disk space used and update/restore time. I haven’t tested it with an external drive though. Maybe it’s best to disconnect any drives before updating.

    It doesn’t take too long to reinstall Windows, but it can take many many hours to install, setup, and update all of the development software and tools for graphics programming.

    Good luck getting everything working again!

  48. wumpus says:

    The grass isn’t any greener on the iOS/Mac side. It used to be that Apple users looked forward to every update and were relatively quick to adopt the latest with minimal prompting. Those days are long gone, though, and so now updates are forced/tricked onto people.

    As a sometime iOS developer I definitely developed a paranoia of updating. More than once, I made the mistake of updating my iPhone (that I used for development) – “It’s just a trivial update (major.minor.trivial); it’s probably just bug fixes!” – only to find that the supposedly trivial update to my iOS then required me to update Xcode…which required me to update macOS! No warning to the developer. And, of course, no way to roll back an iOS update. Downloading and updating _by itself_ could easily eat a whole business day.

    We eventually made a rule that we would only update when we had to, and all together. It was the only sane thing to do.

  49. Kai Durbin says:

    I honestly have to suspect that the people who code at Microsoft are simply put into cages with a single computer that only uses a shitty command prompt like in movies (pixel font, green on black, etc.) and are locked in there for eight hours unable to do anything else. Also, they must sign an NDA that says “YOU MUST NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES DISCLOSE THE INSIDE OF THE MICROSOFT OFFICES TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC”. Then at the end of the day, the features are just shoved out the door, no testing whatsoever.

    1. wumpus says:

      Oh, so you’ve used Source Depot, then?

  50. Wiseman says:

    Maybe you should get a Raspbberry Pie to do your writing in.
    To be honest I never experienced this behaviour you describe on my laptop, but it does have Windows 10, and eventually I’m usually sad I don’t have the courage to switch to some distro of Linux. It’s a time bomb.

    1. tmtvl says:

      I shall sing the siren song of cool features, like file managers that remember your open tabs and automatic system backups before an update.

      1. Philadelphus says:

        And updates which are exciting to look forward to instead of terrifying because they’ve been thoroughly tested for stability and not breaking your setup.

        Seriously, the most critical computers in the International Space Station run on Debian. (Source.) If that doesn’t say “We trust this to be stable,” I don’t know what does.

        1. Fizban says:

          Hehehe, that does sound pretty rad. “Man, they use this shit on the space station, where if the computer dies, you die.

          1. tmtvl says:

            Fairly unrelated but funny anecdote: I have read that the mission computers for the entire space shuttle fleet total 5 MB RAM.

  51. pseudonym says:

    So this begs the question: why not dual boot?

    So the gaming and the writing about games: that is more convenient to do on Windows. But coding and web development seem (to me) to be much more convenient on linux. You already have some ubuntu partition somewhere right? And Heather is probably an ubuntu expert by now.

    I think a LAMP stack would be much less of a hassle to set up on linux than a WAMP stack on windows. Also Monodevelop is available for Linux, and it is the default editor for Unity. I know you didn’t like it the last time you tried, but things improve all the time on the open source side (just like blender). It is open source and written in C#, so you could add some simple features yourself if you like.

    Yes it would be a transition away from Visual Studio which could be annoying. But speaking from personal experience: If windows only runs games (which are updated by steam and GOG Galaxy) and a web browser, it is very stable. So running such a lean windows install next to linux might actually also improve your windows experience…

  52. Tomas says:

    “I got Windows 10 for free and I still feel like I’ve been horribly ripped off”

    That’s a great quote! =)

    I always have Windows Update disabled and activate it maybe once a year. Same goes for web browsers. This idea that you must at all cost keep your browser and OS constantly up-to-date is like a paranoid hysteria. In a mature product most bugs will come from updates, and constantly updating will guarantee that you get them.

  53. Moss says:

    Shamus, I suggest you look up how to disable updates, for real. There is a way to do this — for real, yes — that I did for my machine a year back. I remember it involving setting up a system policy that ran the update program as a guest user without and privileges (so that it could not run at all), and I have never been prompted to update since. I can’t find the article/forum post that describes how to do this but with a bit of Googling I bet you can find how.

    No hackers are gonna take over your machine from this. I know cause hackers have tried and failed with my machine. Disable updates for your own sanity.

  54. Decius says:

    Good luck disabling Win 10 updates. There’s a series of nested ‘un-disable’ things that run (at least two of them are scheduled tasks, one of which can be cancelled from the scheduled tasks interface, but runs anyway).

  55. Sven says:

    Please submit feedback using the Feedback Hub (app that comes pre-installed on Windows 10). If you use the appropriate category it will include all the logs needed to hopefully diagnose what went wrong. We (I don’t personally work on setup/update, but I do work on Windows) absolutely look at these reports.

    Windows Update should never take 7 hours. There are essentially two types of updates: regular updates and feature upgrades. The former are “normal” updates that patch a bunch of binaries as you’d expect. The latter are essentially a complete OS install followed by a settings and apps migration (these only happen when a major new version is released, which happens at most twice per year; the most recent one was released in April but it’s possible it hadn’t rolled out yet to your machine). On an SSD, feature upgrades might take up to an hour. Usually they take 20 minutes or so on any of my machines. Normal updates never take more than a minute or two for me (not counting the time before restart, since you can still use your computer during that time).

    Also, the black screen with spinning circles is essentially the boot screen. Some parts of the update process take place during this phase, but not many. If an update is taking a long time, the vast majority of the time should be spent on a blue screen with spinning circles, and a percentage indicating progress. If your machine spends a long time on the boot screen, it’s almost certainly stuck somewhere (hardware drivers are unfortunately a common culprit here that MS has little control over). It’s unfortunate that it didn’t recover correctly after rebooting, which you should definitely indicate in the bug report.

    1. Jordan says:

      Eh, the (august?) update last year was a 4-5 hour affair for some goddamn reason. Like, that was the standard time it took for people. Barely any warning it was a massive update either, and no idea why it took that long – but many many people (including myself) got an update cycle that long.

  56. Nimrandir says:

    This isn’t really related to the post, but you folks are the tech-savviest bunch I know.

    My wife wanted to play Minecraft on our PS4, but we noticed it wasn’t on the stack of recent items. That’s not surprising, since Sony periodically decides its new hotness must be more important to us than the games we’ve played for dozens of hours. I dutifully dive into our library — and Minecraft isn’t there. It was yesterday, but now it’s gone. I pull up the system storage, and the save files are there. The actual game, though, vanished like Hitchcock’s Lady. We downloaded it again, and nothing else seems amiss.

    This is weird, right? This feels weird.

    1. The Puzzler says:

      You accidentally selected ‘Delete’ when you intended to select ‘Close’.

      Obviously I have no way of knowing if that’s true, but that’s usually what gets blamed in these cases. (Based on my Googling of “ps4 deleted my game”.)

      1. Nimrandir says:

        I can’t rule it out either, but that would be weird for different reasons:
        1.) My wife never actually closes games. I usually get slowed up starting my own stuff as I wait for the system to close Minecraft (or whatever).
        ii.) The options to close and delete software are on opposite ends of a menu which doesn’t wrap around. We would have had to scroll down to the delete option, select it, and confirm the deletion without noticing.

        I won’t deny that it’s the most obvious solution. Pilot error also allays any fears I might have that the console’s hard drive is failing. It just seems so unlike our usual behavior.

  57. Tom Johnson says:

    Try Linux Mint 20.
    I moved to Linux over 4 years ago and have been happy since.

  58. anonymous coward says:

    I’ve disabled windows update with a patch from a shady russian website.
    Now my PC cruches bitcoins in every free moment, but it does not bother me when I’m using it.

    DEST DEAL EVER!!!

    ;)

    1. raifield says:

      Don’t think of it as malware, think of it as forced distributed computing!

      Which, incidently, is another feature of Windows Update, though I think you need to manually change the setting from allowing it to grab files from other machines on your LAN to machines on your LAN and everywhere else. Never quite sure how this setting actually worked.

  59. MaxEd says:

    Obviously not Windows Update, but way back when I began my career, Visual Studio 2005 took very, very long time to install (today, it’s much better, actually, even on HDD). So I ran Process Explorer and Process Monitor to see what it was doing. Well, it truns out that it accessed and wrote lots and lots of very, very small files. If I had to guess, that’s the same thing that makes Windows Update so slow: it has to update millions of individual assemblies (in form of DLL files), but to it safely, it has to check every file’s version, and probably its hash, to be sure. Or if the file is missing it has to write it. And writing lots of small files is THE WORST. Even on SSD. Now, sever hours update still looks like a big problem – I never experienced that. You could probably look up update logs somewhere, to see where it got stuck, though Windows is not REALLY good at this kind of logging.

  60. utzel says:

    You (and all the other commenters with problems) have my sympathy and I hope you (all) get your computers working fine again.
    I was mostly spared by update troubles so far, apart from the usual re-installing/-activation of stuff Windows does by itself, and the breaking of audio drivers or at least audio settings that happened a few times, which also seems (seemed?) to be quite common after the bigger feature updates.
    Gladly I’m on an older MSDN-updated-from-7-version that equates to a Win10 professional, and after delaying one of the first feature updates my PC seems to be stuck on the back end of the list whenever they are rolling them out now. I’m still on 1903 although auto-updates are enabled and working otherwise. I’m very much fine with that :)

    What I’m missing in the comments so far is a discussion about backups. Is no one doing them? There are a few mentions of restore points, even an argument for Linux that automatically does this before an update. But apart from the windows internal functions (that I hear are pretty good in 10, but why would I trust them to work if it’s the same system that breaks and makes me use them in the first place?) there are a bunch of alternatives.
    A quick image restore, instead of a complete reinstall and the day of bringign the computer up to speed again, or hoping windows manages to rollback and fix itself, seems to be an easy choice to me?
    I have a really old Acronis backup software somewhere, that worked great with MBR but can’t handle GPT anymore. Instead of reinstalling I could just overwrite my C drive with the latest backup in maybe half an hour? C is just windows and programs for me, all data is on other drives/partitions. So all my settings are how I want them and no complete reinstall is needed. I keep one nearly clean backup with just a few basics, and then a few incremental backups.
    Haven’t bought a newer version that works with GPT and I’m now using the free Macrium Reflect. Program itself is fine and does all Acronis did before, but I never had to do a “reinstall” with it yet, so can’t personaly vouch for it.
    I don’t have automatic backups setup though, and just do them whenever I remember to do so, and before doing a big update. That might come back and bite me sometime, but this is purely my personal computer and it’s only time I stand to lose.

    1. tmtvl says:

      Besides built-in snapper backups (which back up the system, not storage; ergo if an update messes up I can roll back, but if my drive gets wiped I’m SOL) I also have an external HDD and rsync.
      That said, while distro hopping I once managed to forget to back up my data so I learned to not really care. Yeah, I have a terrabyte of data backed up, but if I lost it all it’d be but an annoyance.

    2. Fizban says:

      Indeed, this is one of my big Intend To Do things. If my main drive is only 500gb, I can literally just take this spare external I have and put a whole disk image on there and boom. But oh, I should finish setting up the main archives before I do that. And really wouldn’t it be better to get most of my main drive files offloaded onto a second internal drive before I make a backup image, so that image is smaller and less of a hassle to make current again (user files, not OS bs) if it’s needed? But I don’t have a second internal drive, and keep balking at the price even though I’ve bought plenty of other stuff in the meantime, yet another form of procrastination.

      But yeah, the big brain play is to keep all of your actual files on (also backed up) a separate drive/drives, with a disk image of the system at point of install sufficient security updates desired software on a third, disconnected drive (and possibly an auto-backup to the secondary drive for stuff that refuses to go anywhere but the primary and needs to be backed up). Problem is, that was too expensive to do in the past, so 5-10 years of living on a one-drive paradigm, and pulling all of your files out of the old one-drive paradigm is a lot like completely emptying and re-organizing your house: a hell of a lot of work and potential stress that most people just don’t wanna deal with.

  61. CloverMan-88 says:

    I’m still on Windows 7 and except Windows Store Exclusive all modern games work just fine. And I mean current AAA titles.

    1. Fizban says:

      I’ve seen one or two that say the require win10, presumably due to directx 12- though in particular, I’m more concerned/annoyed with the VR games. As in, the Index itself says it requires win10.

  62. Pink says:

    The other day I noticed that my windows drive was completely filled; it took some digging but it turned out that I had over 300 copies of the install files for Visual Studio Code – a program I don’t have installed – in my temp folder. Over a third of my drive was filled with these indentical folders with gibberish names that took a terribly long time to delete because there were a thousand files in each.

    Now, back when I upgraded Unity, it attempted to install Visual Studio Code. The installer crashed and I decided not to bother with it. Apparently, Task Scheduler has been downloading a fresh copy of the installer, attempting to install, and silently crashing every time my computer was idle since then.

    Microsoft products could learn lessons on failing gracefully from Jurassic Park.

  63. utzel says:

    I guess I’ll try my luck with the spamfilter, just found these topical comics:
    https://lolnein.com/2018/06/14/windowsupdate/
    https://lolnein.com/2018/06/18/unsavedwork/

  64. I use the tool “Window Update Blocker” it allows you you disable updates, you can turn them on again to install an app from the Microsoft store and turn off again with no need to reboot

  65. Yves Boyadjian says:

    The best attitude to have, is to make the updates preventively, I mean by going to Microsoft Update Dialog, and clicking on “Check Updates”, every week.
    That way, you are sure to have an always updated machine, and you won’t be distracted while working.

    1. Tomas says:

      I don’t want an updated machine. I want a working machine.

    2. Richard says:

      Actually, you should never click that button and always delay the update if possible.

      Microsoft release Win 10 updates in waves. If ‘enough’ instances of a particular piece of hardware or configuration get bricked by the update, they stop pushing it to systems with that configuration while they figure out why (and one hopes, fix the problem)

      Thus, you want to be the last to get the update, because you want some other poor schmuck to take the hit – you don’t need to outrun the bear, you only need to outrun your peers.

      Anyone who regularly clicks the “check updates” button gets put into the first wave – they become the lab rats upon which updates are tested.
      Microsoft say that they’re self-selecting because they clearly want to be bleeding edge, or they wouldn’t click the button so often.

      Businesses with volume licences get the updates last, because they can actively choose which ones to apply using WSUS (which is in fact a very nice piece of software)

      If a few lab rats die? Ah well, it’s for the good of the rest. And especially the business customers.

      Don’t be a lab rat…

      1. Matt van Riel says:

        “Microsoft say that they’re self-selecting because they clearly want to be bleeding edge, or they wouldn’t click the button so often.”

        Which is complete bullshit of course. In reality it’s going to be people who don’t really get computers and think they need to hit the button every day to make sure their computer is safe. Ironically it makes them LESS safe. Meanwhile, the people who understand what that button does absolutely do not touch it under any circumstances, heh.

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