Windows 10 (Version 1803): Faster Feature updates promised

[German]Microsoft is promising us a faster upgrade experience – where the term upgrade modestly disguised as ‘feature updates’. Here are a few more details about that promise.


Microsoft’s WWWW thing

If you look around, there is one feature that most Windows 10 users probably deal with more often – popular or hated by everyone – the WWWw thing.

World Wide Windows wait
(World Wide Windows wait)

It takes time and effort to download and install each update. And it gets really bad with feature updates (which are upgrades behind the curtains), where their installation can take hours; if the upgrade doesn’t fail – otherwise plan days to get your computer back to work.

Microsoft is optimizing Windows 10 Version 1803

Microsoft ‘listen to you’, they are going to make the best Windows 10 even better, and feature updates are going to install faster, much more faster, a little bit, maybe. Or in plan words: Your machine should be faster back from offline mode to operation mode. I had already blogged about that topic in August 2017 in the article Windows 10: CBB ends, Upgrade install details/optimizations.

The first information was given via Microsoft’s Mixer-Channel for Windows Insider. The first web cast (unfortunately not available for later view) took place on June 14, 2017. In this webcast Microsoft has explained in more detail what happens during the installation of a feature update (which virtually replaces the entire operating system but preserves the apps, applications and user data). Russian Leaker WZor has joined this session and published some slides. According to the following slide, a Windows 10 Feature Update (which is an Upgrade, exchanging the whole operating system) is installed in four phases. 


Phasen bei Feature Upgrades in Windows 10
(Source: WZor/Twitter)

  • Phase 1: The update is downloaded from the update server and saved locally. The phase is terminated by the user via the Restart now button in the settings page under Update and Security.

Windows 10 Feature Upgrade Phase 2
(Source: WZor/Twitter)

  • Phase 2: After booting, a Windows RE environment is started, which then moves the source WIM file to the recovery partition, installs the new WIM installation image and drivers, and so on. The tasks are listed in the screenshot above. The progress bar there moves between 0 and 30%.
  • Phase 3: After that, the system reboots and values between 31 and 74 % appear in the progress bar. The new operating system is added to the BCD database as a boot entry and the sysprep phase is executed. Plugins are also migrated there.
  • Phase 4: After another restart, the progress bar shows values between 75 and 100 %. In this second boot phase the (user) data is set up, services are started, further Post OOBE tasks are executed and then the desktop is displayed.

The semi-annual feature upgrades annoy many users, because the process can be extremely tough and take a very long time. So Microsoft now intends to optimize some steps from Windows 10 version 1803 onwards. There is an online phase and an offline phase during upgrade installation – and Microsoft is planning, to shorten the offline phase (when the system isn’t useable). Some tasks are moved to the online phase, during which you can still work on your PC. To do this, the settings and apps are saved from Windows RE Phase 2 to Online Phase 1 and the new files for the operating system are stored in the Windows Image (Wim) process. Only after phase 1 described above has been completed and Windows 10 has been restarted, the user have to wait for the relevant installation steps.

Microsoft is listen to you …

Microsoft employee JosCon (Josph Conway) has now published a blog post We’re listening to you — feature update improvements, where he announces these new features ago. The following table shows the difference between the old and new upgrade model.  

Microsoft promises to shrink the upgrade ‘down time’ from 82 minutes to 30 minutes.

Final thoughts

You can claps your hands for Microsoft’s ingenuity – but you can also think think about that mess. Microsoft has been stumbling around for almost 2 years with Windows 10, and now comes to the conclusion, that the upgrade process is anything but optimal. So they’re ‘optimizing’. Optimizing a worse thing doesn’t make that a good thing. End at the end of the day, we need to confess: Even in 2018, Windows still can not perform live kernel updates, instead you have to rebooted (sometimes) multiple times during installation. So let’s look forward to Windows 10 version 1803, an hope that their optimization works.

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