Software

Windows 10: Home users continue fight for control over updates

Microsoft faces ongoing pressure to give Home users the same ability to delay updates as those running other Windows 10 editions.

Image: Microsoft
When it comes to Windows 10, those using Microsoft's latest OS at home are getting a very different system to that used by businesses.

Users of the Home version of Windows 10 can't stop Microsoft gathering data on how they use the OS or delay the steady stream of software updates.

However not all Home users are accepting the status quo. A hard core of Windows users are continuing to push Microsoft to give the Home edition greater control over updates - with a petition on the issue racking up close to 6,000 signatures.

The main complaint of these users is that Windows 10's forced updates can cause machines to crash and, as such, all users need control over how they are applied - without having to resort to hacks.

Susan Bradley, a Microsoft-certified Small Business Server and Security Most Valued Professional, explained why she started the petition.

"We have numerous examples of where firmware and drivers have caused issues. We can't just have control after they update . We need control before they install," she said.

The petition calls on Microsoft to acknowledge that Windows 10 Home users "need the ability to delay or hide damaging updates that impact the computing experience, have undesirable side effects such as blue screens of death, or reduce the functionality to attached devices".

The risk of an update triggering a fatal error in a machine is compounded by Microsoft not providing a detailed outline of what is in updates to non-enterprise customers, she added.

Richard Edwards, principal analyst with Ovum, said most home users don't want to spend time reading about what's in the latest Windows 10 update and manually managing when they're applied.

However, due to the large number of machines running Windows 10, even when an issue only concerns a minority of users it can still affect a large group of people, he said.

"As for keeping systems up-to-date, again I think Microsoft knows best for 99 percent of the user base. However, with 200 million active Windows 10 devices, this does mean that two million users might want more control of the update process," he said. "There is now choice in the market, so if users don't like what they're getting they can switch to something else."

Annette Jump, research director with analyst house Gartner, said there is scope for Microsoft to provide more information and control over updates to home users.

"What is necessary from Microsoft is some explanation about what are the benefits of those updates. Certain updates are quite critical, to address security holes, whereas some of the others could potentially be delayed for a few days or a week."

However, she said she isn't aware that Microsoft is planning to make these adjustments and expressed doubt as to whether there was enough concern over the issue of updates among Home users to force such a change.

In contrast to Home users, those running Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise can put off updates using the recently introduced Windows Update for Business feature. The settings allow users to put off new feature releases for up to eight months and security updates for up to four weeks, as well as to temporarily pause upgrades and updates. This is in addition to the delayed upgrade options available to these non-Home editions of Windows 10 under the different servicing branches Microsoft offers.

While Microsoft says that there are more than 200 million devices running Windows 10, third-party stats on usage reflect what has been described as "tepid" growth in the Windows 10 userbase after an initial flurry of new users.

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Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic. He writes about the technology that IT decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

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