Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hey! Microsoft! Stop being so RUDE!

Keeping your Windows PC updated is a safe and prudent thing to do; it's true. I'm sure that Microsoft thought they were being helpful when they forced automatic updates upon us in Windows 10. But they didn't stop to consider that the implementation was PUSHY and RUDE. Windows 10 (and, by extension, Microsoft) presumes to know what's best for me and my computer at any given moment. It doesn't consider that I may be doing a time-critical task, like:

  • Giving a presentation to a client.
  • Skyping with someone halfway around the world.
  • Suffering through an IRS audit.

It just takes over my computer without any warning or permission.

In my previous post, I wrote about how Microsoft's Windows 10 is set up to automatically download and install any upgrades that Microsoft decides are important for you to have.

When this happens, your computer doesn't alert you or warn you. It just goes ahead and does it. The download takes top priority over anything else The program that you're running slows down, and it may even look like it's freezing. You can't open a File Explorer window to look at your hard disk. If you try to open the Task Manager to see what has happened to your PC, it takes forever to open, and then it informs you that something is consuming 100% of your CPU, all of your available RAM, 100% of your network bandwidth, and probably even 100% of your hard disk bandwidth.

(Yes, your hard disk has limited bandwidth. You can't read from and write to it at infinite speeds.)

Because it's stealing all of your network's bandwidth, other devices on your network will also be affected - especially things like other people's computers, tablets and network-connected cellphones.

You can change settings in the Control Panel to disable automatic installation of the updates. That's described in my previous post. But there is not a Control Panel setting to disable automatic downloading of the updates. You may not think this is a problem, but if you're on a busy network and one of these top-priority updates comes down the pipe from the Mother Ship, it freezes your whole computer and many of the other devices on the same network. It is both crippling and irritating for you, and it's also irritating to everyone else who is affected by your computer's download.

Many people have complained about this problem, but MS hasn't seen fit to fix it yet. (Their attitude is "Just get used to doing things our way." Not acceptable.) The Web reveals an easy hack that anyone can do to regain control over Windows 10 automatic downloads. The trick is to  designate your network connections as "metered connections". This article in HowToGeek tells you how to do it. If that article doesn't help you, this one in LifeHacker might work better.

Windows 10 may be inexcusably rude, but it's smart enough not to mess with people's cellphones. People would get very upset if their cellphone charges suddenly skyrocketed due to Windows 10 automatically downloading huge updates through their tethered cellphones.

Therefore, Microsoft allows you to designate a network connection as a "metered connection". Windows 10 won't download updates through a metered connection without asking for permission first. (It's not a matter of Windows being POLITE. It's more like Windows is being PRUDENT. Or TIMID. We could use more of that timidity elsewhere in the operating system.)

1 comment:

Amanda Johnson said...

Weird. Windows 10 didn't automatically update, but it seems like we've been having MAJOR issues with our computer lately. It happened around the time that our Office expired, too, so we can't figure out if it is because we haven't done the update, something happened when Office expired, or we've got a bug and it is all coincidental. Annoying.