Microsoft is not fixing your biggest problem with Windows 10.

Which problem exactly did you think about after seeing the headline? It’s pretty much common knowledge that there are plenty of them. Is it security or stability? Or maybe it’s the ads that are far less subtle than Microsoft thinks they are? Could be it’s just not visually appealing to you, which is also a perfectly good reason. While I would take an argument that Windows 10 has been getting all-around better, and lately Microsoft has been swaying more people than expected their way with both software and hardware, there are still very many users out there consistently frustrated or even angered by their experience with the company’s major product. I am one of them, and my biggest problem with Windows 10 is how it handles updates.

I am by no means accepting having ads in the OS (and believe no one should), and the aggressive way Microsoft tries to make users turn on all sorts of tracking functions is outright disgusting. But nothing drives me crazier than an out of the blue update, always poorly timed, jumping in my face with the first opportunity like it’s the most important thing right now, no matter what I’m doing at the moment. And when I do conform, Windows 10 pulls off one of the most frustrating things I’ve ever experienced — when I agree to install an update and restart the system right when I get the notification… it just doesn’t do it. Nothing happens, no update, no restart. I try again and again, and with every click the memories of dealing with the quirks and bugs of the old versions of Windows flood my mind. I try to keep myself together, and take a deep breath. So now my only reasonable option is to schedule this update, which I almost never feel comfortable doing, because I don’t always know precisely when I’ll need or won’t need to use my laptop — my workflow, spread across three distant time zones, just doesn’t give that kind of scheduling freedom. On top of that, Windows 10 only gives an “active hours” window of maximum 18 hours. Why? Is it just a shameful (or shameless?) acknowledgement, that an update installation can potentially take several hours? Why the hell an update installation is such a big deal anyway? Why is the timing always bad? Why so much fuss? Why do they take so unbelievably long to install?

No matter how hard Microsoft tries to sell the narrative of a completely new and rethought OS, I sincerely believe that most (if not all) problems of Windows 10 come from the fact that it carries the leftovers of bad design of its older versions, that have been piling over for a couple of decades. There is no reason for a consumer grade OS to work this way today. There is a limit to how much you can improve an initially flawed tool. Like hard drives, that are fragile, heavy, slow and “too mechanical” for a modern user, or internal combustion engines, that are clunky, noisy, smelly, and hitting their limits next to electric alternatives. But, unlike hard drives versus solid state storage, unlike internal combustion versus electricity, there’s no price factor in having a truly modern OS. In fact, Windows 10 is already the most expensive mainstream operating system. And the desktop OS that goes about updates better than the rest of them is essentially free. I’m talking about Chrome OS.

I’ve been using Chromebooks since 2012. They make pretty good secondary computers. And if your computing needs don’t include heavy graphic design, 3D modeling, video editing, extensive coding or hardcore gaming — as it is with the majority of modern computer users — they make pretty good primary computers, too. To think about it, maybe best primary computers with that type of use case, given the price and quality of many Chromebooks. But if you’re reading this, chances are, that to a various degree you are an advanced user. Chances are, that you probably do one of those things — either video editing, or a lot of coding, or you’re a PC gamer, or something of that sort. Well, so do I. And yes, a Chromebook doesn’t get all of my work done, but it gets most of it, and often in a more efficient manner. And when I deal with painful, intrusive, overly complex and unreasonably time-consuming updates in Windows 10, dragged down by the bulk of the system, I get to the point, where I don’t believe that functional benefits of Windows 10 outweigh this enormous flaw. Do you know how Chrome OS updates? The thing is, you might not know, even if you use it. Because an update is downloaded in the background, using only a fraction of your bandwidth and a humble portion of your system resources, when it’s installing. You keep using your computer normally during the installation — you might not know it’s happening. And then you just restart your computer whenever you want — it will restart just as usual, in a matter of seconds, with everything up to date and ready to go. Quick, simple, painless — as it should be on a modern computer.

“MacOS handles updates better than Windows, and is perfectly suited for heavy work”, you might say rightfully. Better than Windows, yes, but still not in a fully modern manner. A lot like Windows 10, macOS also carries a fair chunk of bulk. If that’s the OS of your choice — all the power to you. While I don’t mind using macOS on a powerful desktop computer with a large display (like an iMac), I am confidently turned off by its portable form — MacBooks are pretty expensive even at base level, and all the recent ones have unreasonably shallow keyboards that I simply can’t use, while their battery life is known to be rather inconsistent.

The problem with updates is not new, it feels like it’s been around forever. I easily admit, with no hesitance, that Microsoft has done a neat job on getting certain things right or better in the last few years — reviving the iconic Start button and making the Start menu simple and customizable, sorting out the Action Center with system and app notifications, making the OS a bit more usable on tablets, improving boot up times and battery consumption, befriending PC with Xbox, and almost building a proper app store (if only it wasn’t so in-your-face). They even made full Windows 10 run sufficiently on ARM chipsets, and stepped up their malware protection game (if you can live through a required update). I admit that, but I also believe that a software developer and a computer manufacturer of such magnitude should have a quality standard, which would avoid having these issues in the first place. Or, at the very least, would rush the developers to fix them effectively, and not ignore them for years. Because, as I stated in the beginning, problems with Windows 10 are very well known, and have been for a long time. Wait, I just changed my mind — my biggest problem with Windows 10 is that Microsoft is not fixing its biggest problems.

Sigh.

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