Archives » May 20th, 2005

May 20, 2005

Windows Automatic Reboots

Windows Automatic Update has struck again. Yesterday a new Critical Update came down the wire, and Windows downloaded and installed it just like it should. But then, once again, it decided to reboot the computer after the install was finished. And so all day I was getting compalints from people all across the company that their computer was rebooting all by itself. I would think that something like this would be unacceptable to most people. I sure don’t like it. But it’s the way Windows is designed. Luckily there’s a way to change it.

I found the solution on Tim Rains’ weblog. It involves a registry entry that you have to set on each computer in order to turn off the automatic reboot. You go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Policies\Microsoft\Windows\WindowsUpdate\AU and create a DWORD value named NoAutoRebootWithLoggedOnUsers. Then set it to 1 (or download this .reg file) and, theoretically, your computer won’t reboot, but just notify you that a reboot is needed. And really, isn’t that the way it should be? I guess this is another example of Microsoft’s new devotion to security at all costs, without regard for the unexpected consequences that it brings about. Tim himself gives several cases where a reboot definitely was not weclomed:

One person’s Windows Media Center Edition system was rebooted while they were watching their favorite show on TV. Another person, who uses their laptop as an alarm clock when they travel, slept in because their system was rebooted and the alarm clock application didn’t restart. Another person said they were working on a Word doc and went to the restroom only to return to find their system rebooted and the Word doc gone.

And yet, even after all that, he still recommends leaving the reboot active, because, and this is the standard Microsoft party line, “If you do not reboot the system…your system will still be vulnerable.” Well, you know, my system’s been vulnerable for months now anyway, because you didn’t find this vulnerability until now. So I don’t think another two hours is going to hurt. Just pop up a little window every half hour letting me know a reboot is required, and trust me that I’ll do it when I’m done with the computer. Taking control of and rebooting my computer is not okay, even if it’s meant to protect me from a bug in your code.