Windows update

Microsoft said on Friday that the upcoming Windows 10 major feature upgrade —dubbed the Spring Creators Update— will take around 30 minutes to install, unlike previous variants that took between one and two hours to complete.

This boost in installation time is attributed to work engineers have done on the "Feature Update" process —the name Microsoft uses to refer to its bi-annual major OS updates.

Microsoft says that this Feature Update process actually consists of two separate phases —the "online" and "offline" stages.

During the "online" phase, the user's computer downloads the necessary update files and executes various operations in the OS' background without affecting the device's battery life or system performance.

The "offline" stage occurs when the OS needs to restart several times and keep the user trapped into an "applying update" screen while Windows updates itself with new features.

Creators Update took 82 minutes on average to install

Ever since Microsoft released Windows 10 and subsequent Feature Updates (Anniversary Update, Creators Update, Fall Creators Update), this process has been offline-heavy, meaning users had to wait considerable amounts of time for Windows to finish the update operations.

For example, the average "offline" time to upgrade to last year's Windows 10 Creators Update version was 82 minutes.

Such long downtime periods didn't go unnoticed by most users, who have been complaining about this process all the time.

Joseph Conway, Senior Program Manager on the Windows Fundamentals team at Microsoft, says the company has listened to these complaints.

Ever since last April's Creators Update release, Microsoft engineers have worked to move many update procedures from the "offline" stage to the "online" phase that runs in the OS background.

Fall Creators Update took 51 minutes on average to install

The first results of this mammoth task were seen last October when the average "offline" installation time for the Fall Creators Update went down to only 51 minutes.

But now, Conway says that they've managed to reduce the "offline" stage even further.

"We’ve done additional work in the upcoming Windows release to move portions of migration operations to the online phase as well," Conway says. "This has resulted in an overall reduction of offline time when installing builds in the Insiders Program to an average of 30 minutes. That’s a reduction of 63% from the Creators Update!"

Conway says that because of these changes, the "online" phase now takes longer to complete, but that most users will never notice when this takes place. Below is a table detailing how the Windows 10 Spring Creators Update mechanism is designed to work, compared to last year's system.

  OLD Feature Update model NEW Feature Update model
Online
  • PC checks for available feature updates (manually or automatically)
  • Feature update payload is downloaded
  • PC waits for a required reboot to begin update installation
  • PC checks for available feature updates (manually or automatically)
  • Feature update payload is downloaded
  • User content is prepared for migration
  • New operating system is placed into a temporary working directory
  • PC waits for a required reboot to begin update installation
Offline
  • PC reboots to begin update installation process
  • User content is prepared for migration
  • New operating system is placed into a temporary working directory
  • Drivers and other required operating system files are migrated
  • User content is migrated
  • PC reboots and completes the update
  • OOBE begins
  • Average Offline time of 82 minutes
  • PC reboots to begin update installation process
  • Drivers and other required operating system files are migrated
  • User content is migrated
  • PC reboots and completes the update
  • OOBE begins
  • Average Offline time of 30 minutes (Insiders Program)

 

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