Windows Update Reboot Prompts

closeThis post was published 13 years 8 months 25 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

No, I wasn’t recently annoyed by one of these, but I thought I’d mention them while I’m out of town and unable to keep up on the latest news.

So every PC user has probably seen a restart prompt by now. Windows pops them up every ten minutes after installing updates, trying to get you to reboot the computer and apply the new code. What Windows doesn’t take into account is the fact that you might be in the middle of something that takes more than ten minutes.

Granted, there are workarounds (like using the Group Policy Editor), but it’s an unnecessary annoyance for power users. While the system policies are an OK way to turn them off, a simple checkbox in the Windows Update control panel wouldn’t hurt for those of us using, say, Windows XP Home Edition (which lacks the policy editor) or who just don’t want to bother mucking with convoluted settings.

So yeah, I don’t have an image because I wasn’t thinking about a post like this the last time I got updates, and I couldn’t find a way to force the dialog (there must be a way to fool Windows into thinking it just installed updates; if you know one, a comment would be useful :-). I do have a screenshot for my next annoyance, though.

There, that was a nice, not-so-graceful segue into the subject of the dialog where a choice isn’t really a choice.

Windows has a very annoying way of severely limiting your control over the system’s update process if you’re a limited user. If you use a computer managed by someone else — say school, company, or whatever — you might have seen this dialog:

It gives you an amount of time (in this case it was five minutes) after which the system will reboot whether you’re ready or not. What really burns me is how it has both “Restart Now” and “Restart Later” buttons, but the latter button is disabled. It’s probably there because the same function is used for creating all the restart prompts with a conditional to enable/disable the timer. But that’s getting pretty technical.

Suffice it to say that not having the option to stop the timer and finish what I’m doing if I need an hour is a large annoyance. (That screenshot was taken several months ago for submission to This Is Broken, now shut down, but was never acknowledged and has been sitting in my email account ever since.)


I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

One Comment:

  1. Excellent post. I have always hated this which is why I’ve disabled automatic updates.

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