...while you were out, Windows Update helpfully downloaded and installed a couple of fixes for your machine and now it needs to reboot the machine in order to complete the update. This is all fine but you're not there, and so Vista pops up a dialog giving the user the option to "Restart Now" or "Postpone" and a little countdown timer. When the timer hits 0 your box will restart automatically.
The number of times in the past I've come back from being out to see that login screen staring at be smugly and then logged in only to notice that it's actually "Logging In" rather than being "Unlocked" (the no apps running in the taskbar is a clue.)
It makes me SO angry, how many of these updates are SO IMPORTANT that they need to be fully applied to the machine RIGHT NOW??? Are there really hoards of 1337 barbarian hackers out there just waiting to take advantage of some vulnerability in CALC.EXE??? No, it's one of those broad stroke, treat all users like they're idiots policies that MS seem to adopt occasionally with security.
Anyway, a while ago I found a solution, but I keep forgetting what it is and after doing a google search yesterday to try to track it down again I found a lot of dangerously incorrect advice on various blogs, the worst of which were people advising that users disable automatic updates altogether This, is wrong! So in the interests of having the info somewhere I know I can find it, and in the hopes that it might be useful to others I'm going to describe what I like to call the "middle ground approach". That being, you still get the prompts by Vista, and you can postpone the prompts for 10 minutes or 4 hours and after that time it will nag you again but it WILL NOT automatically reboot your machine and cause that "blood draining from face" moment you get when you realise that you've lost half a days unsaved work.
Anyway it's quite simple.
- Go to the start menu, and in the search type "gpedit.msc" Then hit enter. The Group Policy Object Editor should appear.
- Navigate to "Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update"
- In the list on the right look for the following setting: "No auto-restart for scheduled Automatic Updates installation." Double-click this and change the configured value to "Enabled" then click OK.
It's worth noting two things though:
- If you're on a domain, it's likely that domain policies will override anything you set here even if you are allowed to access the setting in the first place.
- It appears that when the dialog pops up, it gets focus and the "Restart Now" button is highlighted. So if you're typing and you happen to hit "Enter", "Space" or "n" it will be effectively clicking the "Restart Now" button...