Microsoft is constantly rolling out updates for Windows 10, but most of those updates are installed in a few moments after you reboot your computer. But twice a year Microsoft rolls out a major “feature” update which can take a very… long… time to install.

While some of the work happens in the background while you’re still using your computer, there’s still a bunch of things that require you to be “offline,” which means you can’t use your PC.

But Microsoft says it’s taking steps to reduce the amount of offline time involved in a major Windows update. Over the past year, the company says it’s cut the amount of offline time required by more than 60 percent.

According to Microsoft, it took about 82 minutes of offline time, on average, to upgrade to the Windows 10 Creators Update that was released in April, 2017.

But recent Windows 10 Insider Preview builds install in an average of 30 minutes. If you’re not a member of the Insider Preview program, that’s still good news, since it means that there’s a good chance the upcoming Windows 10 spring update will be relatively swift compared to updates that rolled out last spring and fall.

30 minutes is still a lot of time to wait for a PC to reboot though. So what’s going on in the background?

Basically the new update model does more of the work while you’re online. It can check for updates, download them in the background, prepare your user data for migration, and place the OS in a temporary working directory all before your reboot.

The old update model did those last two steps only after your system had rebooted.

Once you do restart the PC, it will begin the update process by migrating your drivers and data, rebooting, and then running through the setup (or out of the box experience) process.

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9 replies on “Microsoft cuts “offline time” for big Windows updates (still takes about a half hour)”

  1. I would consider this good news, but on the Insider Builds I’ve been running into a lot of errors during this online update period. This means a focus-grabbing, screen-covering popup whose only option for closing is “More info”, which opens up Settings and forces you to take action immediately… even if you’re in the middle of composing an email, watching a video, or playing a game.

    I have reported my issues to Microsoft.

    While downtime is annoying, unproductive uptime is worse to me.

    1. “I have reported my issues to Microsoft.” I’m fairly certain they will feed you a platitude and do sweet FA.

  2. I usually leave my windows box on overnight to get all the patches after I use it. I haven’t been gaming recently so I get tons of updates when I do fire it up. For everything else I use my home server linux box.

  3. It looks like you got kind of distracted at the end of the article ;p

  4. It sounds as if this requires more space (at least until full completion). How does this impact constrained devices, like those mini-PCs with a small eMMC? Can it at least use a USB drive for temporary storage? Any mention of such issues?

    1. Took 9 days on a 1 year old Lenovo Yoga. That is because it has only 32GB of hard-drive 2 GB of RAM and is unupgradable. Every Windows update borks it and I can’t stop it from being borked.

      It would also be great if it left me some room to install even the most basic of programs. Oh and before you say anything trying to install Linux is close to impossible as I have yet to find a distro that works as most the drivers are missing.

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