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Customers petition Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, demand changes to Windows 10 update practices

Gregg Keizer | Oct. 19, 2015
'We have a right to know what you are placing on our computers,' says one signer of petition that asks Microsoft to cede more control of updating to users

"We have a right to know what you are placing on our computers," said Jim Mitchem on Saturday.

Numerous petitioners said that they would refuse to upgrade their personal PCs to Windows 10, or push their company's systems to the new OS, until Microsoft recants and gives them more say about what is installed and when.

Those threats -- and the petition itself -- are unlikely to move Microsoft. Not only were the 1,600-odd petitioners a drop in the vast Windows bucket -- Microsoft recently claimed that Windows 10 now powers 110 million machines -- but past pleas on the site have failed to jar technology firms into action.

In 2013, for example, several concurrent petitions pleaded with Google to rethink its decision to shutter the company's Reader and associated RSS feed service. Although the petitions accumulated more than 100,000 signatures, Google ignored them.

But Bradley's petition added to the voices condemning Microsoft's radically-changed maintenance model for Windows 10, which the Redmond, Wash. company has characterized as "Windows as a service." Under that model, Microsoft is to update and upgrade the operating system on an accelerated cadence, with significant changes to the feature set, the OS's functionality, and its user interface (UI) and user experience (UX), about every four months.

Bradley's petition, however, was not directed at that sped-up tempo but rather at Microsoft's new policy of refreshing Windows 10 using cumulative updates consisting of numerous individual changes, bug fixes and security patches. Those cumulative updates will be unified collections that cannot be broken apart into their separate components.

"Unlike earlier versions of Windows, you cannot install a subset of the contents of a Windows 10 servicing update," Microsoft said in a detailed explanation of the Windows 10 servicing plan published last month [emphasis added].

In pre-Windows 10 editions, users and IT administrators can pick and choose which updates they deploy and when they do so; they have also been able to ignore individual updates that others identified as troublesome or even disastrous, or roll back changes that break applications or cripple the PC.

Microsoft has countered those complaints by pointing to Windows 10's servicing strategy, which relies on multiple "branches," or update tracks, and the rights that come with the branches targeting businesses.

"Current Branch for Business" (CBB), for instance, will offer a specific update/upgrade approximately four months after the same update reaches consumers on the "Current Branch" (CB). Devices on the CBB will also be able to defer a specific update for an additional four months, for a total of eight months, from its release.


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