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geraldew
geraldew

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A Windows 10 Update Time Check

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i.e. for the posting of this to Dev.

This posting is just some notes that I wrote as I was doing something - partly as an exercise in note-taking and to maybe then email to a few friends. After post-facto decoding all of my shorthand bits, I thought it would be easy to put up here on Dev, although it has very little connection to "development".

While I express a few opinions throughout, I don't have any major purpose for posting it. I'm not trying to convert anyone, nor seeking Likes, nor raising my profile etc. And, it's probably quite tedious, being just a log with thoughts along the way.

Background

I mainly use Linux. Most of the time I run that from an external USB drive (more on that some other time). At other times I run an installation on the internal hard drive of this computer - a HP laptop, a "Pavilion g6".

This g6 had come with Windows 7 pre-installed. When my partner got a new laptop - a Lenovo Ideapad - it came with Windows 10 pre-installed. As my only use for Windows is to have something I could use for diagnosing her computer, I tried to "upgrade" mine to Windows 10. In short, that failed (just a painful waste of time) so I totally wiped the internal hard drive and did a clean install of Windows 10.

This Windows 10 setup then just gets run from time to time, purely in order to bring up to date.

The only customisation I've made was to install a CPU temparature application. It happens that this g6 has probably lost some of the heatsink paste on the CPU. I added the temprature monitor to avoid unexpectd thermal shudown (a story for another time).

The main reason for mentioning the CPU issue that it correspondinly means that the computer will variously speed the fan up and down. By now, that fan is not whisper quiet anymore, so the noise of it becomes a kind of aural CPU measure.

It is the 20th March 2022, and I've been quite busy and not let Windows 10 boot and update for a couple of months. Today I thought I'd set aside the time - a Sunday morning - for the usual waste of time that seems to often been required.

However, I also thought that this time I'd take some timed notes about the process - doing so on my phone using Joplin.

To cut to the chase, the process began at 11:13 and ended at 13:42.

Log

11:13 Booted the computer and by not interefering it was allowed to boot into Windows 10.

11:15 Saw the login screen so I logged in to the admin account

Note:

  • I usually wait a fair while when logging in, to allow Windows to tend to itself and eventually to launch the two applications that I've set for auto-running.
  • the two applications are: Task Manager, and the CPU graphing program
  • to be honest, I've forgotten which (of the many possible) way I've set those to auto-run.
  • now it is true that with Windows 10, the GUI interface appears to be ready to use quite quckily, but I have found in the past that this doesn't mean much. Depending on quite what you might go to do, something you try to do/run might still wait for Windows to fully do its things.
  • Frankly, whether those delays are due to Windows overall, or things pertinent only to the current user's session, I don't care. I'm just not that interested in knowing that kind of detail about Windows (at least not at home, because I mainly don't use it).

As usual, as soon as Windows had started booting, the CPU fan was running hard almost immediately.

I've recorded boot times elsewhere, so didn't bother time marking the point where I seemed to be logged in, and that the Start menu seemed responsive.

As I expected I'd have updates to get on with, I didn't wait for the two auto-run applications to fire up, and so double-clicked on the desktop icon I'd made for running Windows Update. To my surprise it came up quite quickly - not that I have experience to compare that as I usually wait, as noted above.

It seems rather ironic that Windows Update shows:

  • "This PC doesn't currently meet the minimum system requirements to run Windows 11. Get the details and see if there are things you can do in the PC Health Check app." when it is Windows that most makes the CPU fan run hard. I don't think I'll be taking "PC Health" advice from Microsoft anytime soon.

11:24 the Task Manager and CPU temperature applications appear. Task manager however shows a quite blank window with "(Not Responding)" in its title bar. Alas, that's not unusual. If it wasn't my policy to not customise this setup I think I'd be wanting to install the older (and clearly much better) Task Manager.

11:28 by now Task Manager is alive, but clicking on the Performance tab returns it to showing as (Not Responding)

11:33 Task Manager still not responding, Windows Update is still "checking for updates.." CPU is running at 86 degrees - the doing nothing temperature (which I can see from eariler in the graph) is around the 50 degrees mark.

11:38 temperature briefly drops to 60 degrees, the fan quietens but soon goes back to 80 degrees.

11:42 the CPU graph intermittently pauses. Interestingly, when it resumes there is no catchup of passed data, which begs the question of which layer is skipping measurements. I ask myself, is that worth bothering to check? The answer as usual for anything about Windows, is No.

11:46 the CPU graph resumes after 2 minute pause. Task Manager still showing (Not Responding)

11:47 Windows Update now shows a set of updates. They are: (in brief, as I'm doing this on phone)

  • Security Intelligence Update for Defender
  • Cumulative Update for .NET Framework
  • Malicious Software Removal
  • Cumulative Update for Windows 10
  • Update for Windows 10

As I type that list, the .NET one is already installing, the others are all shown as "Pending install"

11:50 Task Manager finally shows the Performance tab. Sadly that delay was no shock. Somewhere along the line, someone chose to make the Task Manager a tool for use only when things are going well.

By the way: Windows Update also shows "Feature update to Windows 10, version 21H2"
I haven't ever run that for two reasons:

  • with Microsoft, newer "features" often means worse things
  • that update hasn't been run on my partner's computer (the reason for the latter is yet another story)

11:56 Windows Update says "Restart required"
11:57 clicked "Restart now" button

There is a blue screen while it closes the CPU temp and Task Manager applications (it calls them "apps"). Taking a while to close those.

Then when they are closed, it shows "Working on updates" and "30% complete don't turn off your computer"

11:59 the blue screen shows "Restarting"

12:00 now the computer is really rebooting, e.g. I see the firmware display
12:01 briefly see the HP logo screen with some spinning dots, then we're into another blue screen, this time showing: "Please wait"
12:02 blue screen, this time showing: "Working on updates 100% complete Don't turn off your computer"
12:03 spinning dots
12:04 the login screen appears, so I log back in to the admin account
12:05 Task Manager and the CPU temperature graph appear but are not responding
12:06 the CPU graph starts showing measures. In Task Manager, I click the Performance tab and that makes Task Manager again show as (Not Responding)
12:07 all looks normal, so I go to run Windows Update. To see the icon for that I have to minimise Task Manager, which shows there are two instances of it running. Presumably one was marked as something to re-run from the restart and the other is via the auto-run.
12:08 Windows Update shows two updates are in process:

  • Malicious Software Removal
  • Cumulative Update for Windows 10

12:10 the cumulative Update is now at 100%

12:12 still 100%, the Malicious Software Removal tool shows as "Pending install". Task Manager shows the Disk activity at 100% (which is something I've usually associated with the running of the Malicious Software Removal tool). I guessing that despite being "Pending" that the malicious removal is actually a process being run rather than an installation as such. As this computer doesn't get used for much, that means this is merely Windows scanning itself because it can't be trusted (with managing itself?).

12:18 at this point, I suspect I'm mainly waiting for the removal tool to complete but could probably be using the system now. Except of course I don't actually have much use for Windows and I've only come here to update it. And I wonder would my "usage" be competing with the removal tool?

12:24 suddenly Windows Update is rescanning "Checking for updates"
12:25 it now says it is installing the Cumulative Update for Windows 10
The removal tool is still showing "Pending install"
12:27 Cumulative Update progress is now holding steady at 21%

12:32 no change, but various parts of the GUI have flashed as if forced to redraw - e.g. application windows, icons in the task bar. Disk activity still mostly 100% but no idea if that's due to the Removal tool or the cumulative Update.

12:44 still same, 21% and pending, disk busy
12:49 same
12:57 the Cumulative Update progress moves to 45% - I happened to go to write this note re "same" and saw it change.
13:01 Cumulative Update progress still at 45%, disk still busy

  • Just to be clear, I'm only lightly editing these notes. I was marking time points, with "no change" as I was starting to do other things - eat lunch etc - but did want to mark how long nothing happened at all. In the past with very long Windows update processes I'd walk away and come back later, only to find that it was waiting for my action. Perhaps that point had been reached mere seconds after I walked away? This is why I've rarely made thorough reports of the hours lost to letting Windows Update go through its motions.

In general terms, at this point in the sequence of events, what I'm really waiting for is to find out if there's still another Reboot going to be needed before I can return to using this computer (where "using" means using Linux instead of this crapware).

13:06 same
13:07 Cumulative Update progress now at 46%
13:10 Cumulative Update progress 73% disk activity no longer solidly 100%
13:13 Cumulative Update progress 74%
13:18 same

It occurs to me that it would be an interesting test to install Xubuntu from its first release media - say for 20.04 LTS - and then get it to do its updates and time how long that takes.

13:22 same
13:27 Cumulative Update progress 90% - I'd spotted it changing to 87% as I went to type this.
13:28 Cumulative Update progress at 100%. And soon the Windows Update window is showing: "Restart required"
13:29 I clicked "Restart Now". I fairly quickly see:

  • Blue screen "Restarting"
  • "Working on updates. X% complete Don't turn off your computer"

13:31 "30% complete"
13:32 "Restarting". Then an actual reboot.

Q: Can I assume it's now all done?
A: Not really, it's not as though it ever says "this is the last reboot required". So now I will have to invest time just to get back in to check that.

13:34 This time as it boots, the screen is blank/black for a while - yep that's right nothing shown at all.
13:36 Back to showing a blue screen "Working on updates" and going through various "% complete".
13:37 At 94%, then 100% complete.
13:38 Some spinning dots, then back to the login screen. As per this ritual I once again log in to the admin account.
13:39 Am logged in, this time I will wait for all windows to open
13:40 To my surprise the Task Manager opens fine, and I'm able to go to the Performance tab quite ok this time.
13:41 I open Windows Update
13:42 Windows Update shows "You're up to date"

With the updates all done. I log out, although the Microsoft terminology for that is now "Sign Out" (another story for another time)

Epilogue

Q: Did I expect it to take that long?
A: Well, yes, based on prior experiences. I think the worst I've seen Windows 10 take on that machine was well over 4 hours - to be honest I forget, was it 6, 8, 10 hours? Of course, with durations like that I wasn't sitting at the screen the whole time so as to immediately see a point where it was waiting for me.

I would expect some people to opine that Windows these days is "designed" for computers that are never turned off, and are always online, such that these updates will usually take place overnight. I'm not doing that with my computers for various reasons. When I'm not using my computer, I want it turned off. I'm not interested in how Redmond wants to run my computer.

I'm similarly not interested in how much this might be due to the age and specifications of this particular computer. Frankly, it runs Xubuntu just fine - and with household funds reduced by the pandemic, I don't have a need to spend money on yet more (newer) hardware.

In my opinion, Windows by now is just junkware - ineptly designed and ineptly managed. It is the QWERTY of operating systems. But unlike QWERTY, which we all seem stuck with, it is really quite easy to avoid Windows, much like you'd avoid stepping in potholes and puddles. Best of all, choosing something else doesn't cost anything.

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geraldew Author

p.s. FYI - I posed a corollary thought about this elsewhere and someone kindly ran it as experiment.
See:

🌚 Friends don't let friends browse without dark mode.

Sorry, it's true.