back to article Microsoft rolls out stealthy updates for 365 Apps

Microsoft says it has tweaked the way 365 Apps update themselves, by seamlessly and automatically applying changes while PCs are locked or idle so as to not disturb users. Depending on one's set up, software updates on Windows can get held up if computers are locked or left idle, which in turn makes it harder to keep corporate …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "a process that Lieberman said takes about four seconds"

    Um, and what bandwidth was that tested on ?

    The internal 10GB network connection ?

    1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

      Re: "a process that Lieberman said takes about four seconds"

      I believe that was measured using Microsoft Variable Time.

      The proof is the "percentage complete" timeline where seconds become minutes ... And when/if a rollback or restore is required hours become days ... by the book ...

      1. Ramis101

        Re: "a process that Lieberman said takes about four seconds"

        Microsoft Variable Time....

        That's it! its the only possible explanation for the "time remaining" estimates when copying in Windows.

        1 Min remaining, 30 Secs, 10 Secs, 46385 Days remaining ...... etc.

        1. Pete B

          Re: Regional data centres

          Obligatory XKCD Reference

          https://xkcd.com/612/

          1. Frank Bitterlich

            Re: Regional data centres

            I think The Reg should add another field to the "Post Comment" form – "relevant XKCD(s)". I have rarely seen an article here that doesn't have a corresponding XKCD comic.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "a process that Lieberman said takes about four seconds"

        Ah, that may explain Southern Rail timing - clearly they're using Windows.

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: "a process that Lieberman said takes about four seconds"

          Yes, Microsoft minutes always have been the temporal equivalent of the rubber ruler for measuring length...

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: "a process that Lieberman said takes about four seconds"

            A rubber ruler (or a simple piece of elastic with equally spaced tic marks) is a useful tool when installing railings, siding, fence posts, and anything else that requires even spacing in an uneven space. When stretched, the distance between tic marks all expand equally.

            1. Atomic Duetto

              Re: "a process that Lieberman said takes about four seconds"

              Is it equally?

              I always thought that the middle spread more than the edges

              This is anecdotal however (my middle has spread)

              Bound to be an ignoble in this, quick .. to the bat computer robin

              *I leave the entendre’s for others

        2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: Southern Rail timing - clearly they're using Windows

          Thanks for that. Not going to be comfortable sitting in one of their trains now. Have you seen the number of buffer overflows there are?

      3. David 132 Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: "a process that Lieberman said takes about four seconds"

        > hours become days ... by the book ...

        KHAAAAAAAANNNNN!

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: "a process that Lieberman said takes about four seconds"

      Outlook takes 10-20 seconds to start normally. Excel et al can take far longer if the document is large.

      Do they genuinely think anyone believes that?

    3. katrinab Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: "a process that Lieberman said takes about four seconds"

      Surely it can download whenever, and the 4 seconds is just to restart processes that have been updated?

  2. Ramis101

    "the feature will shut them down when it's safe to do so without losing data"

    ....without losing data, why did they feel they even need to say that? Previous update borkage??

    MS have a real good record on that front!!

    1. LDS Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: "the feature will shut them down when it's safe to do so without losing data"

      At least it will teach users not to leave applications open and unsaved documents, and a computer running consuming power uselessly. Moreover a running PC can be hit by ongoing attacks - while a turned off one can't.

      1. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

        Re: Moreover a running PC can be hit by ongoing attacks - while a turned off one can't.

        Though the pc can't be attacked if it is off, the same can not be said about your [cloud-based] documents.

        1. An_Old_Dog Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: Moreover a running PC can be hit by ongoing attacks - while a turned off one can't.

          That's why we have Wake-On-LAN!

      2. Youngone Silver badge

        Re: "the feature will shut them down when it's safe to do so without losing data"

        I had a complaint made about me one time when I told a user that I could not recover a document "from the mainframe" because she hadn't saved it at any point.

        She had worked on it for 4 hours without saving even one time and claimed that that I told her that I wouldn't recover it for her.

        Fortunately my manager explained to the HR lady how those things work and the complaint went no further.

        Sometimes users won't be helped.

    2. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: "the feature will shut them down when it's safe to do so without losing data"

      why did they feel they even need to say that?

      Because they like sharing joy, or at least making people laugh out loud, as much as anyone else?

    3. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: "the feature will shut them down when it's safe to do so without losing data"

      What do you think about the message you get when you upgrade to a newer Windows version then?

    4. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: "the feature will shut them down when it's safe to do so without losing data"

      Note that there is no indication on what happens to your Word document if you leave them opened while upgrading.

      all text and images shift; four new pages appear; paragraph breaks form an union; a swarm of commas buzzes at the window; in the distance, sirens

  3. Lee D

    Sure. What could go wrong?

    1. Vir_Floridanus

      Trust me I’m a doctor…

    2. Wade Burchette

      Most terrifying 10 words

      I am thinking that the second most terrifying 10 words are "I am from Microsoft, and I am hear to help".

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Most terrifying 10 words

        the first most terrifying being:

        I am from Oracle, how are your product licenses going?

  4. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Microsoft is always optimizing your updates experience

    Interesting use of the word "optimizing" there, they appear to have redefined it to mean "fucking up".

    At least they've informed their users that they can disable this disruption by leaving an unsaved document open in every application at all times.

    1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge
      Headmaster

      Re: Microsoft is always optimizing your updates experience

      It's the same way they've been optimizing our UI and general usage experience for years.

      So it's an ongoing alternate definition rather than a redefinition, but your suggested meaning is accurate...

  5. OhForF'
    WTF?

    Move fast and break things: The next level

    The obvious solution to users being annoyed with the frequency of updates to the point where they disrupt a significant portion of work is to patch more often but move it to the background and remove any notifications?

    Not even a semblance of control any more - get used to the fact that the device and applications you paid for is controlled by Micros~1 and nobody else!

    Applications having new features or missing old features or changing the workflow while you are on a coffee break won't be confusing at all (or so Micros~1 hopes).

    And that's when they updates work as designed.

  6. alain williams Silver badge

    Microsoft is catching up with Linux

    I often update my Linux boxes while running the applications that are being updated.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Microsoft is catching up with Linux

      Microsoft are doing this to help promote the adoption of Linux

  7. Richard 12 Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Confidence level zero

    Outlook for one is still incapable of restoring itself on the same monitor with the same layout after updates.

    It's annoying, but at least I get some warning and can postpone it to the start of the next business day.

    So now I'll randomly come back after lunch to find all my Office applications stacked on the primary monitor?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are no admin controls for this feature

    "There are no admin controls for this feature"

    What could possibly go wrong...

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: There are no admin controls for this feature

      They've got businesses by the balls now, and they know it.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: There are no admin controls for this feature

        The question is why do the Corporate Lawyers allow the clusterfuck into the building in the first place?

  9. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Good thing Redmond has a brilliant track record with patches

    Where's the "/s" ? ^^

    == Bring us Dabbsy back! ==

  10. Mike 137 Silver badge

    Why?

    ."if a user is working on a Word document at the end of the day, they may leave the document open and lock the device intending to continue working on it the next day"

    What's the problem with closing the file at the end of the day and opening it again in the morning? Are we really getting that lazy, or is this M$ being patronising again? or could they be aiming to eliminate the concept of files just like they've effectively suppressed the concept of directories? The widening gap between the knowledge of the user and the vendor can only further tie the customer down to whatever regime (predatory, hazardous or whatever) the vendor chooses to impose. It's no longer our kit at all, we just have to keep on forking out for the use of it until the vendor chooses to turn it off.

    1. captain veg Silver badge

      Re: Why?

      > they may leave the document open and lock the device intending to continue working on it the next day

      Indeed they *may*.

      They *might* be disappointed.

      They *could* use a more reliable platform.

      -A.

  11. Ball boy

    Too many things wrong with this concept

    For starters, it encourages users to leave computers running 24/7. That's going to piss off the environmentalists - and I'm definitely on their side with this one: what, 8 hours of use in an office and then another 16 burning power just so it can run an update? No thanks.

    Secondly, if your OS didn't take so damn long to boot up more people would turn it off at the end of the day. Last time I checked, it was considered good practice to reboot Windows boxes regularly so we shouldn't really leave them running constantly. How's that play into the 'we'll do it when the machine isn't being used' policy?

    Thirdly, as already pointed out, a machine that's powered down is nicely secure. Leave it running and there's a larger corporate attack surface to have to keep tabs on.

    Lastly, why the heck can't MS do updates like most modern OS's and apps? You know, quietly and in the background while the machine is in use? I know mine does - but only because I look in the logs. I'd not notice it happening otherwise.

    Oh - and all this is before we even consider the (very real) risk of MS buggering the update and simultaneously leaving all users high and dry on a busy Tuesday morning. I'd hate to be tech support when those calls start stacking up.

    1. navarac

      Re: Too many things wrong with this concept

      "if your OS didn't take so damn long to boot up more people would turn it off at the end of the day"

      What? Can you not wait 15 seconds for a PC to boot? Better to turn it off at the end of the day - don't want MSFT to bork it while I'm absent.

      1. Dante Alighieri
        FAIL

        boot time

        hmm.

        5 minutes+ to a working environment on a high end HP machine driving diagnostic monitors in an healthcare environment.

        Not an issue until you have a 30 minute clinical meeting and lose a chunk because the team that just walked out did a full shutdown

        Or have productivity targets in that make the first hour really tight if you switch on on time.

        And that out IT department roll out upgrades overnight and if you aren't switched on you then lose 20+ minutes or more as they land in your monitored work time.

        It is my reality.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Too many things wrong with this concept

        Hibernate (not sleep) at the end of the day seems to work well enough.

  12. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Time to dig out that utility...

    ...which constantly wiggles the mouse pointer to look as if someone's active at the keyboard.

    That is of course, you don't want your session to be updated. (The vast majority, judging by previous episodes).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Time to dig out that utility...

      Dig it out?, Come on, as though you're not already using it.

      Isn't that one of the required 'must have' apps to install, regards WFH to counter the idle states being reported back?

      Logitech missed a trick by not producing a mouse, with a switch to do similar, a built-in 'shudder'.

    2. Aussie Doc
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Time to dig out that utility...

      I hear 'Mouse Jiggler' is useful for this:

      https://mouse-jiggler.en.uptodown.com/windows

      Can't say I use it myself - Linux Mint is my goto so it updates quietly whilst I do my thing.

  13. jake Silver badge

    Got problems? Cure it at the source.

    "Microsoft says it now has a fix for these problems."

    I've had a fix for these problems for years.

    My users run Linux, and I put BSD on the servers. No more problems.

  14. ThePhantom

    Well that explains it...

    I tried to launch Word on my Mac and it just hung and I had to force quit it more than once. When I launched Excel and Powerpoint, each one came up with a "verifying" progress bar and it took quote a while. I had to uninstall and reinstall Word. Ugh!

    1. BigSLitleP

      Re: Well that explains it...

      Sounds like a Mac problem to me.....

      1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Well that explains it...

        If MS hadn't ported MS Office to the Mac, saving Apple from bankruptcy, that platform would have disappeared, and this kind of problem wouldn't occur...

  15. Johnb89

    785th time's the charm

    Sure, MS has had problems with quality and whatnot in the past. But THIS time it'll all be fine. Of course it will.

    I recently removed 365 and wasn't even thinking they could do something this stupid.

    Apps I've recently ditched because they won't not auto update: Brave browser, Zoom.

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