Customers petition Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, demand changes to Windows 10 update practices

'We have a right to know what you are placing on our computers,' says one signer of Change.org petition that asks Microsoft to cede more control of updating to users

Windows 10 users have petitioned Microsoft's CEO to let them not only delay feature and functionality updates, but also ignore them, a plea that if granted would upend the company's model of delivering the OS as a service.

The Change.org petition had collected more than 1,600 virtual signatures as of early Saturday.

"To effectively implement and use Windows 10 in our homes and businesses, Microsoft must make changes to both the operating system and the policies the company put in place to support the new OS," wrote Susan Bradley, who initiated the petition a week ago and aimed it at Satya Nadella, Microsoft's chief executive.

Bradley, a computer network and security consultant, is best known in Windows circles for her expertise on Microsoft's patching processes: She writes on the topic for the Windows Secrets newsletter and is very active on the PatchMangement.org mailing list, where business IT administrators discuss update tradecraft.

In late August, Bradley kicked off a Windows 10 request on Microsoft's own Windows User Voice website, asking the company to provide more information about the OS's updates. The Change.org petition was more expansive: Bradley asked Microsoft to also change how it delivers Windows 10 updates.

"We 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," Bradley wrote. "As long-time Windows users, we understand the need to have quicker and more agile security updating. But this agility should not introduce additional risks to our systems."

Bradley also called on Nadella to push his Windows team into giving users more information than the cryptic, boilerplate text that accompanies each update. "Microsoft should provide detailed information ... along with what system changes we should see. We applaud the cumulative-update model, but the lack of documentation doesn't let us perform the due diligence required for safely deploying and maintaining Windows 10 systems in our organizations."

Supporters echoed Bradley's requests as they added their names to the petition.

"These changes are necessary if Windows 10 is to succeed. Keeping users in the dark and force-feeding updates with no recourse is not acceptable in an era of 'more personal' computing," wrote Dennis Barr on Friday, using the phrase Microsoft has adopted for one of its segments, the "More Personal Computing" group that encompasses Windows and the firm's own devices.

"Having no control of when and what updates are applied to the OS, especially from a business network environment, is folly," added Aaron Jervis, also on Friday.

"We have a right to know what you are placing on our computers," said Jim Mitchem on Saturday.

Numerous petitioners said that they would refuse to upgrade their personal PCs to Windows 10, or push their company's systems to the new OS, until Microsoft recants and gives them more say about what is installed and when.

Those threats -- and the Change.org petition itself -- are unlikely to move Microsoft. Not only were the 1,600-odd petitioners a drop in the vast Windows bucket -- Microsoft recently claimed that Windows 10 now powers 110 million machines -- but past pleas on the site have failed to jar technology firms into action.

In 2013, for example, several concurrent Change.org petitions pleaded with Google to rethink its decision to shutter the company's Reader and associated RSS feed service. Although the petitions accumulated more than 100,000 signatures, Google ignored them.

But Bradley's petition added to the voices condemning Microsoft's radically-changed maintenance model for Windows 10, which the Redmond, Wash. company has characterized as "Windows as a service." Under that model, Microsoft is to update and upgrade the operating system on an accelerated cadence, with significant changes to the feature set, the OS's functionality, and its user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), about every four months.

Bradley's petition, however, was not directed at that sped-up tempo but rather at Microsoft's new policy of refreshing Windows 10 using cumulative updates consisting of numerous individual changes, bug fixes and security patches. Those cumulative updates will be unified collections that cannot be broken apart into their separate components.

"Unlike earlier versions of Windows, you cannot install a subset of the contents of a Windows 10 servicing update," Microsoft said in a detailed explanation of the Windows 10 servicing plan published last month [emphasis added].

In pre-Windows 10 editions, users and IT administrators can pick and choose which updates they deploy and when they do so; they have also been able to ignore individual updates that others identified as troublesome or even disastrous, or roll back changes that break applications or cripple the PC.

Microsoft has countered those complaints by pointing to Windows 10's servicing strategy, which relies on multiple "branches," or update tracks, and the rights that come with the branches targeting businesses.

"Current Branch for Business" (CBB), for instance, will offer a specific update/upgrade approximately four months after the same update reaches consumers on the "Current Branch" (CB). Devices on the CBB will also be able to defer a specific update for an additional four months, for a total of eight months, from its release.

Microsoft has argued that the staggered release of any one update -- first to participants of its Insider beta program, then to the CB, finally to the CBB -- will result in higher-quality updates that have been tested by millions of customers each step of the way. That testing and the resulting improvements in an update's quality, Microsoft has said, means that users, especially business users, can unilaterally accept each update without worrying about something breaking, or even without the widespread testing IT staffs have historically done when faced with changes.

The problem with that model, even setting aside the philosophical differences between Microsoft and customers who want more granular control, is that the branches model has yet to debut: Microsoft will issue the first update to the Current Branch next month, with the first for the Current Branch for Business in the spring of 2016.

Microsoft has also not completed work on Windows Update for Business (WUB), an offshoot of Windows Update meant for corporate use. WUB, which will not be a product per se but instead a set of features and tools available only to organizations that have adopted the CBB, won't be finalized until sometime next year. In the meantime, resistance to Windows 10 has been building, albeit mostly in the narrow constituency of those running the Insider builds, the only branch that has seen regular updates since the OS launched in July.

Microsoft has also taken heat for other practices related to Windows 10, including its aggressive promotion of the upgrade. Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users, for example, have been getting more vocal in their criticism of Microsoft's pre-loading of the Windows 10 upgrade files on Windows 7 and 8.1 devices. They have also argued that recent moves, like pushing Windows 10 via Windows Update, as well as reissuing the upgrade to customers who have previously declined it, verge on the deceptive.

Change.org petition for Windows 10 Change.org

A Change.org petition that has collected 1,600 signatures asks Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella to make his Windows 10 team provide more information to users about updates, and give customers more control over what they install on their PCs.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Windows 10

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?