Microsoft Using AI to Determine Best Time for Forced Updates

Date Entry
July 30, 2018

Users of Windows 10 are well familiar with the inescapable grip of forced system updates - taking their system down for a period of time with no way to cancel or schedule it for later.  However, Microsoft took note of how inconvenient this is for users and implemented a snooze function in 2017.  Now, it's enlisting the help of machine learning to determine the best time to run mandatory updates that won't reboot your computer when you weren't expecting it (and losing all your unsaved work!).

The new procedure breaks the update down into which pieces can be handled during online phases and those can be run during offline hours.  Optimizing these steps dramatically increases the speed of updates since more can be done when the user isn't aware of it and less when the user is.  As part of the new procedure, systems will now analyze the usage patterns of users and determine when best to deploy updates.  This new model accounts for the complaints about the forced update policy as well as factors in cloud data.

According to Windows Insider chief Dona Sarkar and Senior Program Manager Brandon LeBlanc "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."

But why forced updates?  Simply put - it's herd immunity.  Give users the option to dismiss an update and the vast majority will.  With Windows being the prevailing operating system the world over this is a massive security risk - systems must be updated, especially those on shared networks.

The updated logic is currently only available to users enrolled in the Windows Insider pre-release testing program, but internal testing has shown promising results - meaning that the bulk of Windows 10 users should start to benefit from the update soon.

This article was based on a July 25, 2018 Gizmodo article by Tom McKay

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