Windows Will Now Use Machine Learning to Decide the Least Infuriating Time for a Forced Update

By Tom McKay on at

Windows 10, Microsoft’s current version of its operating has long tormented users with a hard-to-bypass policy of forced updates. It will soon try to take the edge off by using machine learning to determine whether a user is actually using a computer when it updates.

In 2017, Microsoft introduced a snooze option in which it asked users whether or not they actually wanted Windows to proceed with an update. This year, Microsoft announced that it had both implemented new logic designed to optimize which parts of the update process it handled during online and offline phases, supposedly speeding up updates dramatically. Now, per the Verge, it has a “predictive model” that will study user habits to determine when is the best time to launch an update.

In a blog post, Windows Insider chief Dona Sarkar and Senior Program Manager Brandon LeBlanc wrote the new model takes into consideration cloud data and is intended to respond to user criticism over the forced-update policy:

We heard you, and to alleviate this pain, if you have an update pending we’ve updated our reboot logic to use a new system that is more adaptive and proactive. We trained a predictive model that can accurately predict when the right time to restart the device is. Meaning, that we will not only check if you are currently using your device before we restart, but we will also try to predict if you had just left the device to grab a cup of coffee and return shortly after.

Sarkar and LeBlanc added that Microsoft had tested the process on internal hardware and seen “promising results upon rollout.” The update is currently available to participants in its Windows Insider pre-release testing program.

It’s arguable that, despite the continual complaints from users who are interrupted in the middle of work or come back to their PCs to find it has shut down without saving work, forced updates are better in the aggregate—the alternative is that a significant percentage of users will put off critical updates or simply forego them altogether. (This is the price of sharing a networked OS with millions of rubes.) The counterpoint to that is that the forced updates sometimes break machines or have been forced through despite explicit user opt-out, or have seemed like pretexts to force users to adopt software like its pre-installed Edge browser.

This seems like an attempt to meet users midway, though complaints about forced updates will presumably continue forever unless Microsoft caves on the policy altogether. [The Verge/Windows Insider]