Windows 10 feature updates offline downtime down to 30 minutes

Although long available on tablet PCs, Windows 10 has generally been ignored in favor of iOS and Android tablets for many reasons. One of those is the torrent of updates you get each time and the downtime those incurs. Nowhere is that even more problematic than the "offline time" the OS spends when installing major feature updates, practically locking you out of your computer for as much as 2 hours. Microsoft is proudly announcing that it has reduced that downtime to 30 minutes on average. The catch? The overall process might actually take longer instead.

That downtime is due to the way Windows 10 updates occur and isn't that different from iOS or Android. There are two distinct phases, one online (not to be confused with being connected to the Internet) followed by an offline stage. The online part happens in the background while the device is still in use. This is usually the part where the update is downloaded and verified for integrity.

The offline part is where most of the complaints come from. This is the part where the update is actually applied and files are moved. Because of the nature of this operation, Windows practically boots out the user and prevents her from using the computer. In the past, this could take well beyond an hour. The Windows 10 Fall Creators update reduced that to 51 minutes and now Microsoft is promising an average of half an hour in the next major feature update.

What Microsoft has basically done is to just shuffle the steps around. Some of the time-wasting parts, like preparing files for the update or placing the new Windows 10 version into a temporary directory, is now done during the online stage, while you're still using the computer. Microsoft admits that now the online stage does take longer but won't bog your computer down. The total of both stages, however, could still be a bit longer than before but you won't be waiting as long.