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April 6, 2020

Windows Upgrade process really has changed!

For the first two years of the Windows Insider program, feature upgrades were delivered as ESD updates. From my point of view, that was a good system. In it, Insider build upgrades were delivered relatively quickly and they were reliable. Generally speaking, Insiders had far fewer upgrade issues and failed upgrades than they do today with UUP updates. To read and learn more about UUP, check out Windows Insider UUP upgrade – Does it work for you?

UUP was born late in 2016, when Build 14986 was the first to be delivered as a UUP update. In my case, the time required for an upgrade went instantly up from the previous (ESD) method that took about an hour per device to anywhere from 2 to up to 6 hours, depending on the specific device and build involved. In my particular case, a new issue is the length of the offline phase. With UUP, the online phase — that is, the time required for Windows Update to show the Restart now button — lasted about an hour and a half on my fastest i7 machine, until a few builds back. But the offline phase then lasted only 15 to 30 minutes. Now, in the past few recent builds, the online phase is about 10 – 15 minutes shorter than before, but the offline phase lasts over an hour.

In addition, there are these small annoyances which have bothered me since the birth of UUP. For instance, I rely heavily on the Windows Admin Center. Some services it requires which I have set to start automatically get reset to manual start after each upgrade. The trusted hosts list is reset. My account picture is gone, although it’s shown there as a previously used account picture, and I just need to click that picture to re-set my account picture once again.

On Ten Forums, you can clearly see an increasing number of users posting about various upgrade issues and vexations. The most typical issue is the annoying “Making things ready – Downloading – Installing” cycle. Sometimes this cycle repeats three or four times before Windows is ready to restart the offline phase of an upgrade. If you read the 100 first posts in any thread about a new Insider build on Ten Forums, you’ll see 10 – 15 users (sometimes more) posting about the upgrade failing because of various errors encountered during the upgrade process.

Here’s my very subjective, personal opinion: Most of the failed upgrades reported by users have then succeeded using an upgrade from a self-made ISO image (UUP Dump). Microsoft should release an official ISO image simultaneously with each Insider build upgrade. UUP Dump uses the original Microsoft ESD files to let users to create an ISO. This clearly indicates that Microsoft itself could do the same, if they just would give up and let users decide how they want to upgrade: UUP, ESD or ISO.

That’s what I think. Your mileage may vary.


Author: Kari Finn

A former Windows Insider MVP, Kari started in computing in the mid 80’s writing code for VAX / VMS systems. Since then, he’s worked in a variety of IT positions. He specializes in Windows image capture, customization, repair and deployment as well as Hyper-V virtualization. Kari is a proud Team Member at number #1 Windows site TenForums.com.

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