Redmond’s Reboot Tuesday

Posted: July 10, 2008 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

First of all, let me say that I am not a Microsoft basher.  In fact, little irks me more than someone who swears by one specific operating system, despite its faults (and they all have faults, believe me) and condemns the ones he doesn’t actually use — there’s a word for it: hypocrisy.  (The same attitude can be observed in politics and religion, but I’m not getting into that now.)


This thing with Microsoft automatic updates automatically rebooting my system (which typically happens when large update packs are released on Tuesdays, a practice which has earned the moniker Update Tuesday) is just plain stupid.  You want me to reboot after applying the updates, sure, let me know.  But if my computer has been idle for the last several hours (because the updates are scheduled at 2:00 am, when I’m not likely to be using my computer) and there are several programs currently running, then perhaps … just maybe … I actually wanted them still to be up and running when I bring my computer out of hibernation!  How hard can it be just to leave the “you need to reboot” message on the screen until I decide to do something about it?  I’m not a baby.

To add insult to injury, immediately after the reboot, my computer informs me there are new updates to apply.  Say what now?  Why weren’t they applied along with the must-reboot-and-lose-all-my-work updates?  Oh, right, maybe they new updates were dependent on the previous updates, or weren’t needed until the first set was applied or something.  Nope, it was a single update: the monthly Microsoft Malicious Software Removal Tool update.  Get real.  That certainly could have been bundled with the hey-let’s-screw-up-Outlook-while-we’re-at-it-since-you-left-it-running-when-you-should-have-known-we-were-going-to-force-auto-restart-your-system-for-you-without-even-so-much-as-a-howdy-do-because-we-know-from-your-auto-update-schedule-that-you’ll-be-asleep-at-the-time-we-give-you-a-generous-five-minute-window-to-reject-the-reboot-but-you-shouldn’t-reboot-with-Outlook-open-because-it-will-mess-up-your-files update.

This is exactly the kind of Big Brother tactics that makes for a poor user experience and fuels the aforementioned Microsoft bashing.  Redmond, are you listening?  Your user experience team is falling down on the job.  I could work out a better experience single-handedly.  Heck, I’d even be willing to prove it … on your payroll, of course, not pro bono.  Let me know when you’re ready to make a deal.

Until then, Microsoft, you should be aware that I’m hedging my bets with other OSes.

Oh, yeah, one last thing, Redmond:  That cool radial menu thing y’all are touting for the next version of Windows?  I saw the same thing on the Linux on the $200 One Laptop Per Child.  And the OLPC has a built-in wireless repeater, so you can daisy-chain wireless connections across the Serengeti.  (More on that another time.)

  1. masgramondou says:

    The solution to this dilemma is to set your microsoft automatic updates thing to “notify” and not to “run automatically”
    Every now and again Windows tries to complain and say you should enable automatic updates but you just have to be firm and tell it to shut up.
    That helped (although it didn’t completely resolve) the issue I had (along with millions of ohters) with the latest update borking zonealarm. Because I’d seen it working I knew that it had to be something to do with the latest MS update…
    So a quick google from a linux PC identified the problem and the temporary workaround.
    PS I have found that running a copy of XP as a virtual machine under linux is a great way to keep Windoze for those tasks it needs and get it out of the way for the rest of the time

    • danielmhoyt says:

      The problem with the “notify” option is that I’m too lazy to do the updates manually. But that’s really beside the point. The user experience should be good no matter what the setting. I shouldn’t have to cripple my system in order to prevent it from doing something stupid — and automatically rebooting when I have apps open is just plain stupid, no matter how you look at it.
      Your idea about XP under a Linux VM is intriguing, but unnecessary on my desktop, as it’s multi-boot already. With disk space so cheap and only 1GB RAM in that machine, I see no need to run under a VM as I can simply switch OSes when I need to. For Linux, I really like Puppy and Ubuntu, each for different reasons and uses. Unfortunately, we also have a ton of Windows software that I seriously doubt will run well under Linux, even with major Wine tweaking.
      However, like you, I use Linux (Puppy, to be exact) to fix the other OSes when they get horked up. That alone should worry Redmond.

      • masgramondou says:

        Sysresccd is my preferred fixit tool… although I’m intrigued with your puppy linux custom build.
        My laptop ran XP in VMware adequately in 1GB – you did need to go away and have a cup of coffee while it started up and not have too many browser sessions, documents etc. open in Lunux but it wasn’t bad once it was running – however it absolutely hums now I added a 2nd Gig of memory. So, for that matter, does Linux without VMware.
        The advantage of a VMware session is that you can share stuff between Linux and XP. Another advantage I’ve found is that I can use Go2meeting to share my XP desktop for a customer presentation and not worry about them seeing stuff I need but don’t want them to see because all that is tucked away on the linux screens.

      • danielmhoyt says:

        While I like the idea of VM’ing XP under Linux, I wouldn’t even attempt to do that with my laptop, which has a 1.2 GHz Celeron M and maxed-out 768MB RAM. I’ll keep that in mind for its replacement, though (which shouldn’t be too far out).
        BTW, correct me if I’m wrong; I assume the “puppy linux custom build” you’re referring to is the build I made for work with VPN added.

      • danielmhoyt says:

        The Go2meeting point is good, but I have to mention that sharing is actually easier with a multi-boot install — with the caveat that you’re running Linux and you didn’t just hibernate WinXP, but shut it down. With the ntfs-3g package (which Puppy and Ubuntu both have out of the box), Linux can read/write WinXP/Win2K NTFS partitions. I do this extensively, such as when setting up a new Linux OS in my boot menu (currently, I think I have 7). I imagine you could also share from WinXP to Linux under the setup you’re using using (WinXP in a VM under Linux) using the WinXP shared folder, much the same as I can do with the reverse setup (Linux in a VM under WinXP).

      • Anonymous says:

        Also, the third option – to download the updates in the background, but not install – is just as broken. If you have an update available and downloaded, it automatically gets applied when you shutdown unless you just happen to note the tiny additional button at the bottom of the shutdown dialog which allows you to shutdown without applying the update….

  2. Anonymous says:

    The nice thing about Linux and updating software is that the only update which ‘requires’ a reboot is if there is a new kernel – everything else is hot-swappable. Even then, the package updater usually only tells you that a reboot is requested – many don’t even ask ‘reboot now [y/n]?’

    • danielmhoyt says:

      I agree. Although I initially had some issues with Ubuntu’s updating of my highly-customized menu.lst, it gives me the option of manual edits, which I now do. (I BIOS-select hd1 for boot, so that the 7 Linux distros I have installed don’t interfere with XP on hd0, but Ubuntu’s kernel update changes my Linux drives back to hd0!)

  3. Anonymous says:

    Radial menu
    The radial menu is much older than ‘Sugar’… It’s also used in a 3d modeling app, and made its first appearance in a dos-era game, IIRC.

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