Subtle changes in Windows Update

Windows is funny sometimes. Yesterday at ZDNet I wrote about 21 changes I noticed from the December Windows 7 beta to the most recent build 7048 (see "A sneak peek at the Windows 7 Release Candidate").

A few minutes ago, another new feature appeared in real time. I noticed the Windows Update icon in the notification area and clicked it. This dialog box appeared:


I chose the top option and then compared the new dialog box with the old one, as it appeared on another machine running the Windows 7 beta.

Here’s the relevant section from the old dialog box:


And here’s the changed text after I agreed to the new Windows Update option:


The first change is clearly just a usability change. The second, however, suggests that Microsoft might be paving the way to deliver “new featured programs” such as those in Windows Live (Messenger, Mail, Writer, etc.).

Apple, of course, offers new featured programs like Safari whether you ask for them or not, a practice I have criticized previously (see "What Microsoft can teach Apple about software updates").

I like the fact that this new setting requires Windows users to opt in (Apple, are you paying attention?). I’ll be curious to see what sorts of “new featured programs” are included as part of this option and how well Microsoft does when it comes to disclosure of what’s in each one.

7 thoughts on “Subtle changes in Windows Update

  1. Does Windows Update Option refer to security updates? Or does it refer to non-security updates, and are security updates handled elsewhere?

  2. So is that it for Vista? Are you leaving Vista behind and going to report 24/7 about Windows 7?

  3. Chris, no, I’ll still cover Vista, and the fact that the two operating systems are so similar makes it relatively easy for me to do so. But right now Win7 is what’s new, and it’s also what I’m working on extensively for Windows 7 Inside Out. So it stands to reason that I’ll have more on it than on Vista.

  4. Ed – you’ve asked in the past why I would continue to read your blog when I dislike Vista so much, and occasionally (I hope its not often – seems like there hasn’t been anything in a while) get annoyed with an apparent bias of overlooking Microsoft errors but having a different treatment of Apple, Linux, etc.

    But… this post shows a good balance of showing the new feature, saying why it is different than what Apple did, and cautiously optimistic about what it will mean in the future.

    So, that is why I am still here. Thanks.

  5. There is one aspect of this change that I do not like. The old dialog has an underlined “s” and “f” for keyboard users. But the new dialog box doesn’t have any keyboard equivalents.

    This I hope is just an oversight that will be remedied in later releases. Keyboard users get used to being slighted but these keyboard accelerators are also used by the physically impaired that can’t manipulate a mouse.

    1. Bob, those accelerators are still there! The default throughout Vista and Win7 in many cases is to hide the accelerators. You can always make them visible by tapping the Alt key. I just checked, and they show up immediately when I do that.

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