Saturday, December 28, 2013

Ugh Windows Update!

One reason I'm glad that I only use Windows for gaming (and DVD ripping) anymore is their awful update system.  I'm having an issue with internet connectivity, I think due to my VPN program trying a little too hard to get it's chocolate in Windows' peanut butter.  I decided to install Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE) and do a scan, just in case (which to my shame and oversight wasn't already installed, it's a free and decent app).  I about lose my shit because MSE tells me it can't download the new virus definitions because something is blocking it.  That can be a telltale sign of a particularly shitty virus.  I try it a few more times, and the last time I sit and watch it download the updates and start to install and then stop.  It gives me the same message, something is "blocking" it, even though I just saw it clearly download what it needed, blockage-free.  I clicked on a little arrow at the bottom of the message and find a well-hidden note that it can't update the virus definitions because Windows Update is disabled.

I enabled it just to get MSE up and running so I can do a scan.  Why is Windows Update disabled?  Well let me tell you.   Immediately after I enabled it, I got a scary message in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen.  Something about my computer will be shutting down in fifteen minutes.  Not, "May I shut down in fifteen minutes?"  But, "This shit is shutting the fuck down.  Deal with it."  There is a "postpone" button which results in delaying the fifteen minute countdown for a few hours, but if you're like me and everyone else I know, the first time you see that message, you say "Ok, it needs to install updates.  I'll wait until I'm done with this" and then you just close the pop-up.

Closing the pop-up does nothing.  It continues the countdown.  If you just close the pop-up without hitting "postpone" then your computer is shutting down, most likely without your realizing it's coming.  The first time, at least.  You're in the middle of your game/office document/browsing, and Windows just shuts down.  No, "Hey, save your files," though I guess that's what the first fifteen minute warning is supposed to be.  No, "Shutting down now" pop-up with an option to postpone when you finally realize what the deal is.

I do run Windows Updates, on my own terms, about once a month.  Otherwise I keep the service disabled, because I don't like it's behavior.  I don't like that if I were away from my computer for twenty minutes to go grab lunch, it could have reset without my permission or awareness.  That can ruin downloads, lose unsaved work, or wipe away your progress in a checkpoint-based game.

I'm actually a big fan of Windows 7, but they really dropped the ball on how it handles updates, and they should have patched in a final warning immediately.  Oh well, if I want something I can customize, that's what Linux is for.


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