A couple months ago I turned off automatic updates on my Windows 8.1 (upgraded) office PC. This is an older machine with a Pentium 4 (2.99Ghz) processor that originally ran XP. Since upgrading to Windows 8.1 in October I have experienced instances where it seemed like 99% of my resources were being tapped for long periods of time during the day, making it near impossible to do anything. Were talking waiting 5-15 seconds for a mouse click to register. Totally horrendous. I know that occasionally Win 8.x will run background maintenance, but this is always indicated in the Action Center.
To help make my machine more functional I changed my update setting to, “Automatically Check for Updates”, but don’t download or install without my permission. This is how I always had my XP machines setup so that I could control when updates would be downloaded/installed. Typically at the end of a day or first thing in the morning before opening any applications. (Btw, I also set App Updates to Manual, and that seems to be working fine with the App tile telling me when an update is available as it did with Windows 8.0). I expected, as I am sure most would, that Windows would alert me when any critical system updates were available. Didn’t happen. The only notification I did get was a warning in Action Center that I had turned off Automatic Updates. After a week of seeing that message (I check Action Center every day for messages) I hid the message from view to hopefully make room for a more important notification. Oh, and I have not experienced that drag down of my processor since making these changes. Not sure if it’s system or apps updates, or a combination of both. But now I am back to pre Windows 8.1 days with regard to performance.
Yesterday was the second Update Tuesday with this configuration and once again when I turned on my PC this morning, there was nothing in my Desktop taskbar to indicate that updates were available. After about an hour today I opened Windows Update and sure enough there were 5 critical and 3 optional updates available for me to download/install. I checked late last week and there were only the two optional updates (Bing Bar / Bing Desktop) that have been there for awhile, so the updates today were new.
I understand that Microsoft would prefer that “everyone” sets their machine to Install updates automatically, and that’s what I recommend especially to noobs and those who don’t pay much attention to warnings. But if you are going to provide options to “download but don’t install” or “check for updates”, don’t you think they should be letting you know if an update is available, as they have been doing for the past 10-15 years. I sure think so.
For now I am going to leave my office PC set the way it is. But to be certain I don’t overlook a critical update I will probably set a task reminder. Unless of course, Microsoft gets around to correcting this potentially serious bug.
And it looks like this is why
If you turn off the message warning that you are not using automatic updates, Action Center apparently stops monitoring Windows Update.
To test this, I will leave this silly message enabled for a month and see what happens. My guess is nothing will change. Stay tuned.