With the launch of Windows 10 Microsoft has removed the ability for most users to effectively manage the software that is installed on their computers.
The argument that is being made by Microsoft is that the best way to keep people safe from malware is to ensure that the PC that they use to connect to the internet is running the very latest software and security updates.
While there is some merit to this argument it can only be made for those software updates that comprise entirely of bug and security fixes. It cannot apply to any software update that introduces a new feature.
Even where the argument is valid Microsoft’s approach is likely to be problematic for some users of Windows 10. Recent history demonstrates that Microsoft will occasionally publish a defective software update that renders a PC completely unuseable. In addition, those of us with data *capped internet connections have no way to limit the amount data that will be consumed by Microsoft’s update policy.
Finally, Microsoft intends to use the update mechanism to dynamically manage the features and services that are available to users of Windows.
Over the years some of the Microsoft’s software updates have resulted in unusable or unreliable devices. In some instances, a significant level of manual input (often running into many hours and sometimes many days) has been required in order to restart and then to restore the affected devices.
Data capped connection
It is unreasonable for Microsoft to implement a system where users of its software lose control of an independent third-party resource that could lead to expensive charges due to excessive network usage. In short, anyone who is paying for a fixed amount of internet capacity should remain in full control of when and how that capacity is utilised.
Feature upgrade mechanism
There are a couple of risks that are associated with this approach.
- Firstly, a feature or service that a user relies on may be subject to fundamental changes and in so doing break their workflow without providing an opportunity for them to reject those changes.
- Secondly, removing an existing feature could make Windows unusable for many of its users. Imagine the disruption that would have been caused by automatically upgrading a PC from Windows 7 to Windows 8.
Who really benefits from automatic updates?
Perhaps in adopting forced updates Microsoft is hoping to protect future revenue streams by having the ability to dynamically control who has to pay for access to certain features and how much they will be charged. Or maybe its a sincere attempt to protect users of its products from harm.
Given that bug fixes and security updates are just euphemisms for defective software, I’m inclined to believe that this intrusive approach to updating software is motivated by the former and not some renewed desire on the part of Microsoft to improve the quality of its software.
Regardless of the motivation allowing Microsoft to automatically update the configuration of a Windows PC is a bad idea that will eventually end in tears.
* a limit on the amount of data that can be downloaded