I’m a big fan of German journalist Martin Brinkman’s Ghacks Technology News (ghacks.net). But I read a post of his over the weekend with both consternation and dismay. Entitled “Surface firmware updates show that Microsoft does not get updating right,” it describes his experience the morning of July 29 with updating his Sruface Pro. This quote captures the essence of things — including my dismay:
While I’m used to multiple reboots when installing new feature updates for Windows 10, I’m not used to multiple reboots during the installation of regular updates.
No kidding! It’s bad enough when the more-than-monthly cumulative updates (two each in June and July, according to my 1803 17134.191 install) force reboots upon completion. I also agree with Martin that I know I must tolerate multiple reboots when clean-installing or performing a feature upgrade on Windows 10 as well. But multiple reboots from a single group of Windows Update downloads? That’s simply too much to ask of Windows users in general, especially those who may not be savvy enough to save all their work before firing off such a restart sequence.
But Wait! It Gets Worse…
Brinkman goes on to relate that this particular batch of updates included multiple firmware updates (each of which required a reboot), and Intel drivers (for which he doesn’t say a reboot is required). My experience with the latter — Intel drivers, that is — is that they sometimes do require reboots, particularly when key firmware based systems or low-level I/O is involved (the Intel Management Engine [ME] and the Intel Rapid Storage Technology [RST] drivers are recent cases in point, as I recall).
In fact, says Brinkman:
I had to repeat the process three times, each time with check for updates, download and install updates, and restart, to install the new firmware and drivers on the Surface Pro. [Later we find this:] Installing the updates using the MSI that is provided will also require three restarts and three separate installation of updates before the process is completed. [emphasis added]
“Ye Gods and little fishes!” is an old exclamation that seems appropriate for such circumstances. That’s a whole lotta updating to ask of users under any circumstances. I’m amazed and appalled that MS would ask users of its high-end flagship Surface Pro laptop to jump through so many hoops to get through the update process. And that’s an out-of-band (non Patch Tuesday) update at that! Surely there HAS to be a better way to package this kind of stuff up for processing and handling at user end nodes?
No wonder Brinkman goes on to describe this as a “very bad user experience!” I agree with his wish for “a system that would do away with forced restarts to complete the installation of updates entirely,” but understand too well that some updates (firmware in particular, which loads during physical boot-up prior to OS load) simply cannot be completely installed without a restart. But more than one? more than two? Come on, Microsoft! Surely you can figure some way out to make it all happen in the context of a single reboot (or chain together an automated sequence of reboots, just like the Windows 10 OS installer already does).
Author: Ed Tittel
Ed Tittel is a 30-plus-year computer industry veteran. He’s a Princeton and multiple University of Texas graduate who’s worked in IT since 1981 when he started his first programming job. Over the past three decades he’s also worked as a manager, technical evangelist, consultant, trainer, and an expert witness. See his professional bio for all the details.