Jul 22, 2016 Paul Thomsen

Has Microsoft given up on minimizing the pain of reboots?

Has Microsoft given up on minimizing the pain of reboots?

As techies and computer managers we hear a lot of complaints from friends and family about using computers. One of the most common is the pain of reboots/restarts. Restarts seem to always be needed when we’re busy doing something, they take too long, we might lose data, and we might have some kind of problem when the system starts back up. The computer industry, and Microsoft in particular, have surely heard the same complaints. What have they done about it?

To their credit, Microsoft has actually done a LOT to minimize the pain of reboots. Restart Manager, Application Restart and Recovery, and hot-patching are among their big investments. Windows has a variety of subtler reboot features. For example, strategic placement of the reboot menu options so that users can readily find them. Attractive and friendly prompts to reboot, often including the option to schedule the reboot. Alternate means to invoke restarts, such as shutdown.exe.

Applications often try to help by listening for shutdown events and trying to shutdown gracefully if they can. Some routinely autosave data so that you don’t lose all your work if an unexpected reboot occurs. Web browsers usually record a history of web sites visited and sometimes include menu options or automatic functionality to restore previous sessions.

Intel and the computer vendors have done a lot to make the hardware reboot faster. Besides optimizing the boot sequence and hardware to speed reboots, they’ve also long supported sleep modes and hibernation as alternatives to rebooting.

That’s all great, but they aren’t new. So why do we still struggle with reboots? When you look at each of the solutions, as we’ve done in our “Improve Security by Optimizing Your Reboot Strategy” whitepaper, it turns out that there are fundamental complications that prevent some great ideas from being as effective as they might have been. And, as the title suggests, some of the fault can be our own if we have not closely considered what we can do for our organization’s reboot strategy.

Nonetheless, I’ve been disappointed to hear so little in all the Microsoft discussions about Windows 10 in relation to minimizing the pain of reboots. It seems that Microsoft has indeed given up on minimizing that pain. It might be time for all of us to remind Microsoft that more must be done.