You’re using your laptop. Maybe you’re doing the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle. You’re well into it…
No, wait. You’re trying to get your startup funded. You’re making a presentation to a group of VCs. All the partners are in the room. It was hard to get them there, and some of them don’t have much time, but you think that you’re finally going to get the money you need. You fire up PowerPoint, and get to the third slide.
With no warning, PowerPoint shuts down. You see a brief message about configuring updates on your computer screen, and then the machine restarts. Two of the partners look at each other, shrug their shoulders, and leave the room. The others look annoyed. You’re so rattled when the computer comes up again that you blow the rest of the pitch. You’ve now run through your seed money, and you have to choose between putting your last few dollars into a house payment or your company.
What went wrong? Blame Windows Update. You accepted the default settings, which said to install updates automatically. If your computer is on, Windows Update warns you that a restart is imminent. If your computer is sleeping, these warnings never actually appear on the screen, but Windows Update proceeds ahead as if they did, restarting your computer when it feels like it.
There’s a registry hack to correct this behavior, but for those not comfortable with that, just set Windows Update to download updates automatically, but don’t install them. Norton will give you a flag because it doesn’t like this configuration, but that’s better than a seemingly random, no-warning restart.
The real fix is for Microsoft to change the default behavior, or at least make setting the registry entry a control panel option. But don’t hold your breath; this problem was also in Vista.