We didn't hesitate to describe Windows 7 as excellent in our 2009 review, but while that assessment still stands, the operating system has developed a tendency to annoy us in recent years with a dizzying number of over-the-air updates and forced system restarts.
Seriously, is there anything worse than booting your PC only to be told five minutes later that you need to restart, again? Sure, we appreciate the regular security updates, but those pesky restarts - and that 15-minute, yellow-alert countdown window - is a serious bugbear.
Sound all too familiar? Well, there's good news in the pipeline, as Microsoft is making a series of improvements to the automatic updating experience in Windows 8 that it claims will "make restarts a little less annoying."
Unlike Windows 7, which will typically install critical updates as and when available before automatically restarting a user's system at 3am (the default setting), Windows 8 will "consolidate all the restarts in a month, synchronizing with the monthly security release."
As a result, a Windows 8 PC should, in theory, only require one restart a month - taking place on or around the second Tuesday of the month, when Microsoft's monthly security-update is released.
According to Farzana Rahman, the group program manager of Windows Update, this approach will help in three ways. "It keeps the system secure in a timely manner, reduces restarts, and makes restarts more predictable," says Rahman.
Going one step further, Windows 8 will also abolish the current 15-minute countdown window - which we lovingly call the Yellow Alert - and instead give users a three-day grace period. In Windows 8, if updates have been installed and are awaiting a restart, the user will be notified at the login screen (pictured above) and will be given three days to restart at his/her convenience.
No pop-ups, fewer interruptions and less nagging sounds good to us, but the one-restart-a-month will remain a best-case scenario. Microsoft adds that "critical security updates to fix a worm-like vulnerability" are the exception to the rule, and will not necessarily wait for the monthly cycle if "the security threat is dire enough".
Fascinating stuff (well, if you're geeky about your operating system) and plenty more Windows Update info and statistics can be found at Rahman's blog on MSDN.com.