Making us wait for Windows 11 upgrades to install is unacceptable

Windows 11 SE on a laptop
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Upgrading to Windows 11 is a somewhat contentious issue. Although the flagship operating system has been generally available for more than a year, not everyone can access it. If you are lucky enough, not everyone can take advantage of its most exciting features.

First, there is a whole raft of perfectly serviceable computers that can’t upgrade, due to various reasons often related to the TPM security chip capabilities – or the wrong CPU – or a banana, or something.

Second, for those that have upgraded their systems, there’s a glaring issue with the rollout of major updates like 22H2 in September, or the forthcoming 23H2, expected sometime this year. “Fallout” is too precise a term; I prefer “dribble”. At one stage last year, my Dells had the Windows 11 upgrade for roughly a month, while my Samsung Galaxy Book Pro, which I bought for its excellent Wi-Fi 6E implementation, was still waiting for the green light. Some say it’s down to specific printer drivers, but that can’t be the case because my Samsung had no printers installed on it. It must have been something else, but what?

Anyway, I later decided to upgrade my trusty rugged Dell laptop to 22H2. It was delivered via a regular check-up on Windows Update, but I only let it kick into action once I had a quick trundle around Dell Update, Office Update, Chrome and Firefox. Best to start a session at a known updated state, after all.

I anticipated that this would be a quick update so didn’t even bother to fire up the coffee machine. For some reason, though, it took the Dell the best part of an hour to go from fully patched 21H2 to 22H2. This is not a bargain basement device, but one with plenty of RAM, CPU and fast storage.


The case for an accelerated device refresh cycle

Achieving a more cost-effective device lifecycle overall


Given that I decided at 15 minutes in that this had been a really bad idea, my mood went downhill from there. Since I was locked out of the computer for all of this time, my mind drifted to considering just how many billion CPU cycles were being consumed. For what? I can’t fathom why it takes so long, when a raw Windows 11 installation is so much faster. The lack of any deep clarity on the update progress is, of course, a slap in the face. Getting stuck at 44% for minutes of time means that either something is broken; or stuck; or that the dialogue is just badly written. Or maybe all three.

Years ago, in the now-long-discarded Windows Style Guide, was Microsoft’s rule that anything that took longer than a few seconds had to be properly handled and communicated. I fear that in today’s world it’s deemed acceptable to just make the user wait. The digital equivalent of “let them eat cake”.